The scene at Mido 2019.

CHANGE OF PLANS: In an unsurprising move, Italian eyewear trade show Mido announced Monday that it was forced to turn its upcoming fair into a digital-only event, scheduled for June 5 to 7.

The show was originally meant to run in real life at the Milano-Rho fairgrounds.

“Last October we were pretty optimistic about the upcoming months, but reality is proving to be very different. Our cities in Italy are empty at the moment, trade shows are banned… therefore we have decided not to wait any longer and make a tough and difficult decision dictated by our sense of responsibility toward visitors and exhibitors,” Giovanni Vitaloni, the fair’s president, said during a virtual press conference.

“We believe that Mido must continue to be an event that stands out as the driving force of the economy in the eyewear sector… Our main goal is to safeguard the international character of the event,” he remarked. Vitaloni cited the growing rate of COVID-19 cases, the impact variants may have on the health situation and a slowed-down vaccination campaign in the country.

The digital show will blend a marketplace with new products from key eyewear companies with what Vitaloni described as a “TV show,” such as webinar sessions with industry figures gathering online to exchange ideas, reassess the sector, discuss trends and analyze social and economic themes. The latter won’t have any business or commercial purpose but will be pivotal in mapping the “sector’s state of the art, trying to define the route for the months to come,” Vitaloni said.

Mido was already forced to change plans last year when it had to cancel the 2020 edition altogether due to the COVID-19 situation and bans imposed on physical trade shows.

Asked about the state of the sector, Vitaloni said 2020 was a difficult year and the eyewear sector is expected to see a 25 percent fall in yearend revenues compared to 2019.

“In mid-summer last year the market had started to react and restart and this [rebound] stretched until last fall… at the moment it’s important to be flexible, fast, courageous and patient,” Vitaloni said.

The following edition of Mido is due to take place physically from Feb. 12 to 14, 2022.

Other trade shows have also turned to the digital format, including Lineapelle and Micam holding virtual trade shows this week. On the other end, Pitti Immagine is betting on a return to physical shows next June, as the leading men’s wear trade fair is scheduled for June 15 to 17 at the Fortezza da Basso location in Florence.

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