Silmo Paris: A Truly Golden Anniversary


Energy, originality, dynamism. Those are some of the terms Canadian optical professionals used to describe the 50th anniversary edition of the Silmo Paris exhibition.

Last October’s event attracted more than 37,000 visitors, fully 10.5 per cent more than 2016, and almost 1,000 exhibitors from 42 countries, many of whom were exhibiting at Silmo for the first time.

Among the show’s highlights was the 50th anniversary gala evening, featuring the Silmo d’Or awards ceremony, which took place against the spectacular backdrop of the Grand Palais.


It all helped to create a mood of pride and excitement that represented a dramatic rebound from last year’s rather lackluster event, said Julia Rapp, partner in Toronto’s Rapp Optical.

“There was much more originality at this year’s show, thanks, in part, to the large number of smaller, independent companies who exhibited,” said Rapp. “New ideas are the lifeblood of our industry and it was great to see so many people visiting the booths. It’s a sign that the industry is really healthy.”

Namita Karir, an optician with Toronto’s Karir Eyewear, was also impressed with the exciting new ideas on display.


“Coming to Silmo is a great way to discover where fashion is going and get away from the ‘every day’. Seeing the work of designers and other creative minds also helps to re-fuel your passion for your own practice.”

Sue Randhawa, owner of The Optical Boutique in Vancouver, says she likes to attend Paris Fashion Week as well as Silmo, which she says is her favourite optical show.

“Eyewear has been strong on the runways and it’s a great opportunity to compare it with what I see at Silmo. This year’s show was fantastic for us business-wise. The vendors I regularly deal with had great releases for spring 2018 and I met new vendors with whom I’ll be doing business in the future.”


Beverly Suliteanu, creative director and VP of product development with WestGroupe in Montreal, enjoyed the celebratory mood that marked the 50th anniversary show.

“Silmo allows us to meet with our global distributors and sign new countries for our brands. We launch our fall/winter collections to our European distributors and meet with the key European trade magazines to update them on what’s new.”

WestGroupe was thrilled to be included in a special Silmo anniversary edition of 20/20 Europe magazine, as well as having some of its frames chosen for display in the Silmo POP’UP Gallery.


On the product side, Suliteanu noticed a definite move to metal this year, both thin and fine wire reminiscent of the ‘90s as well as monoblock stainless steel, titanium and aluminum.

Rapp also reported a swing to metal. “There was a huge range on display, from super-embellishment to great simplicity.”

Colour is now universally accepted,” she added. “As always in times of political upheaval, people are going a little conservative, with burnished, deeper tones that are shaded for a very rich look.”

Make sure to save the date for next year’s Silmo, scheduled for September 28 to October 1, 2018.

By JoAnne Sommers

2015 VEE Show Shines Spotlight on New Products

VEE2015By JoAnne Sommers

Spring is the season of new beginnings. So what better time to roll out exciting new eyewear products than the recent International Vision Expo East (VEE) show in New York? More than 22,000 visitors and exhibitors from 90 countries, including many Canadians, participated in this year’s event. Here is an overview of some of the great products they found.

AdlensFocussTM, the world-leading Variable Power Optics (VPOTM) eyewear from Adlens®, provides four times more viewable area at near, intermediate and distance than the best freeform progressive lens. High acuity and unmatched viewable area for all distances is achieved by turning a dial. The fashion-forward frame design isn’t compromised by its adjustable function as the dial and VPO system are hidden within the frame.

Alternative & Plan “B” Eyewear
Get the perfect mix of style and function with three new models from Alternative Eyewear’s Clip Tech line. Model K3772 features a bold, retro shape combined with cool temple details and a keyhole bridge. Models 3774 and 3775 have a chunky acetate look and feature interesting patterns and eye-catching colour. All are made from high-quality acetate and come with a polarized magnetic clip-on, which is rimless, light and features a back-mounting system.

Ic! Berlin
Ic! Berlin presents plotic – 3D-printed eyewear created by Selective Laser Sintering. Finely tuned lasers fuse together powder particles to create eyewear that’s lighter, stronger, more flexible and more environmentally friendly than traditional materials. Plotic comes in eight rich colours, two plotic-metal hybrids and two plotic sunglasses with an innovative new nosepad solution.

VEE_LensPenLensPen presents PeepsTM, an all-in-one cleaner using a simple two-step process. First, wipe the lens with the retractable goat-hair brush, then slide the arms out from the holder and clean the lens with smooth circular motions of the cleaning tips. When the arms slide back into the holder, the carbon on the cleaning tips is replenished; Peeps’ cleaning tips can be recharged up to 500 times.


Modo Eyewear
New additions to Modo’s Super Thin acetate collection feature marbled hues and patterns and the signature metal-on-metal hinge. Handmade in Japan, the two new men’s shapes are classic squares with a straight, yet casual brow line. The rich acetate colour range brings classic shapes to a new level. Two new cat-eye-inspired women’s shapes are rectangular with a flattering upsweep. Model 6521 is a stylish square shape; 6522 is geometrical and feminine.

J.F. Rey
The “Au masculin” collection cultivates masculinity in a vintage-chic look. The St-Germain celebrates elegant fashion for the trendy guy who loves sharp lines and sophisticated colours. Club is a vintage-style frame made with beautiful Italian leathers. Factory appeals to the urban man looking for quality and style. Titanium clip-on sunglasses with mirror lenses complete this piece of art.

Prisme Optical Group
VEE_PrismeOpticalGroupThe new Frederic Beausoleil sunwear collection features four models, each in four colours. A tribute to the ‘70s, the designs represent glamour and fantasy. Made with exclusive cotton flower acetate plaque, some have silk-printed colours while others have gradient colours. Model S454, with a vintage look, features the iconic six-point Frederic Beausoleil hinge.


Optika Eyewear
The Nat & Coco eyewear collection includes 15 new styles for men and women: ladies’ styles feature textured acetates in animal prints with a mix of rhinestones, which creates an elegant flair; men’s acetates have a bold wood look. All are cut thin, extra lightweight and comfortable to wear.

New ladies’ styles are also available in metal with a three-tone finish, featuring new and original colour blends and patterns. All metal frames are crafted from super-lightweight stainless steel for extra comfort and durability

Spectacle Eyeworks
VEE_SpectacleEyeworksThis new stainless steel collection breaks boundaries with six unisex styles. The multi-layered contrasting colours of each frame combine deep, rich shades with pastel hues. Daring cutouts along the outside of each frame accentuate its angular shape. Modern, clean chic with just the right amount of flavour makes these German-made frames extremely wearable.

VEE_WestgroupeThe 10-piece stainless steel and acetate FyshUK collection was inspired by soft, feminine colours and the intricate use of pattern to create texture. Eye shapes range from sexy cat-eyes to retro, ‘70s-inspired squares.

The Kliik collection includes 10 models in acetate and stainless steel. Features include special laminates, faux wood laser finishes and acid etching.

The eight-piece Evatik collection is modern and masculine. Accent colours bring life to warm neutrals and varied finishes and treatments provide interesting details. Acetate predominates, ranging from ultra-thin profile to retro-heavy.

Zig Eyewear
VEE_ZiggyZig Eyewear introduces 10 new ZIGGY and 10 new Jean-Reno models, and SUNNY’s, a sun collection in acetate and metal.

SUNNY 104 is an ultra-feminine, metal, bi-colour frame. It comes with polarized lenses and can be used with progressives.

ZIGGY 1506 is ultra-delicate and feminine, with a double wire that gives volume to a small frame.

The retro-modern, bi-colour stainless steel RENO 1565 frame can be used with progressive lenses and comes in three colours.

Mido 2015 Sets New Standards for Attendance, Convenience

Mido2015By JoAnne Sommers

‘Milan’ is the top fashion buzzword for 2015, according to the Global Language Monitor. So it’s fitting that Milan is also home to the annual Mido eyewear exhibition, which ranks high among the world’s pre-eminent optical shows.

The 45th annual Mido, which ran from February 28 to March 2, drew record attendance of more than 49,000 visitors, 56 per cent of them — including some 300 Canadians — from outside Italy. The 8.7 per cent increase over 2014’s numbers is “extraordinary, especially considering the economic uncertainty that still affects some countries,” according to show organizers.

Mido President Cirillo Marcolin said the new communication campaign, new logo, pavilions located closer to the subway, and the revamped and more streamlined layout all made for a considerably larger exhibition space and more exhibitors (150 new companies).

Added Vice President Giovanni Vitaloni: “Attendees took advantage of the more visitor friendly layout to visit all the theme areas: Fashion District, Lenses and the FAiR East Pavilion (the exclusive showcase for Asian manufacturers).”

One major highlight was the new LabAcademy theme area within Mido Design Lab, which was reserved for exciting young designers who were first-time Mido participants.

“It’s an incubator of ideas, reserved for a careful selection of emerging creative talents and fresh, original brands that experiment with new outside the box concepts.”

Otticlub, a multi-function area for seminars, conferences, courses and educational meetings, attracted keen audiences, “which is another sign of the dynamic atmosphere pervading the industry,” added Marcolin.

The show also saw the debut of Bestore, an international award for the store that ensured its customers the best shopping experience in terms of creativity, innovation and ambience. The inaugural honours were awarded to the Leidmann store of Munich. The Bestand award for the most attractive and communicative stand, went to Italy’s Blackfin (see designer story on page 22 of this issue).

Mido’s importance has been recognized by Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development, which includes the exhibition in its special Made in Italy promotion program. The ministry organized a special event to which international buyers and journalists were invited.

Among them was Richard Stortini, president of Montreal-based Prisme Optical Group, one of four Canadian companies that exhibited at Mido. “We used the opportunity to meet with eyewear manufacturers,” he notes. “Mido is a great place to get together with our suppliers, see new products and make purchases.”

WestGroupe President Michael Suliteanu liked the exhibition’s move to a new pavilion. “Our booth was busy and we made a lot of new contacts compared to previous years.”

Mido is a key show for WestGroupe in terms of building its international distribution network, said Suliteanu. “Our brands continue to grow and we’ve added an international export sales manager based in Italy. That should further strengthen our international growth, particularly in Europe.”

In terms of trends, Beverly Suliteanu, WestGroupe’s vice-president of marketing and product development, noticed the continued strength of the retro or vintage look. “Acetate was still strong, but in a more refined and thinner profile,” she said. “We also saw more metal and a wide array of finishes and colours. Round and P3 were definitely the key shapes in Europe.”

Plans are already under way for next year’s Mido, which will be held from February 27 to 29, 2016, said Marcolin.

Opto-Réseau Named Transitions Retailer of the Year for Canada

Opto-ReseauTransitions Optical honoured Opto-Réseau as winner of the Transitions Retailer of the Year award for Canada during the 19th annual Transitions Academy event held in Orlando in late January. This was Opto-Réseau’s first year as a finalist, making its victory especially exciting.

“We are honoured to bring home the Retailer of the Year title. A nomination is an accomplishment in itself and a win is a bonus,” said Christine Breton, general manager, Opto-Réseau, who accepted the award on behalf of the retailer. “At Opto-Réseau, our mission is to offer exemplary eye care and provide products that best suit the needs and personalities of our patients. For us, that means offering the full family of Transitions® lens products. We are fortunate to have a dedicated team that is not only confident in recommending Transitions lenses to patients, but believes in them, as well.”

“Through innovative marketing initiatives and involving customers in hands-on product education, Opto-Réseau successfully communicates that Transitions lenses are a great first pair, and not just an option,” said Isabelle Tremblay-Dawson, marketing manager, Canada, Transitions Optical. “We congratulate the entire team for its successes in 2014 and thank them for serving as a strong Transitions partner.”

During the Transitions Academy, Transitions Retailer of the Year finalists Loblaw Optical and Lunetterie New Look Eyewear were also recognized for their commitment to growing their businesses with Transitions Optical’s family of products and programs throughout 2014.

100% Optical Trade Show Brings Light to London

100OpticalBy Paddy Kamen

The European optical tradeshow climate has taken a turn toward sunny, with the second iteration of 100% Optical. The show ran from Feb. 7-9 at London’s Olympic-famous ExCeL venue, which offers excellent transportation infrastructure for exhibitors and participants alike (not always easy in European capitals).

Organized in partnership with the London-based Association of Optometrists, 100% Optical is the largest audited trade show for eyecare professionals in the U.K. They are doing a lot of things right, judging from the huge – 25 per cent – increase in attendance for 2015. Over 6,000 visitors crossed the threshold to a world of 2,000 product launches and 100+ hours of seminars, featuring a wealth of thought-provoking content. Optometrists, dispensing opticians, contact lens practitioners and ophthalmologists attended the show and enthusiasm was high.

The Eyewear Design Competition offered great opportunities for young designers. Students from London’s Royal College of Art were invited to submit eyewear designs under the categories Couture and Ready to Wear. The winner, Hannah Evans, will go on to intern with Mondottica Eyewear. All of the short-listed entrants have been approached about job opportunities in the industry. Well done!

100OpticalCrowdTwelve fashion shows, celebrity appearances and lively debates during panel discussions rounded out a show that just keeps getting better, while still only two years old.

100% Optical’s Event Director, Nathan Garnett, says, « The addition of some key brands in the industry, as well as support from across the optical profession meant that we were able to improve the experience and deliver a trade event the industry can be proud of. We are now busy planning for next year, with lots of new ideas. Exhibitor bookings are up 50 per cent, and many new brands came to see how they could take part in 2016. 100% Optical in London is here to stay. »

100% Optical 2016 is scheduled to run from Feb. 6-8.

opti 2015: Getting a Glimpse of the Future

opti15By JoAnne Sommers

As the first optical trade show of the new year, it is fitting that the theme of opti 2015 was “The Future of Vision.” The event, which ran from January 9-11 at the Messe Munich fairground, attracted almost 26,000 visitors with a rich mix of new products, the inaugural « Walk of Frame”, and an exciting preview of the future in the form of presentations on « Smart Glasses » and « Augmented Reality. »

« Smart glasses are an important area in the field of wearable technology,” said Dieter Dohr, chairman of the management board of the GHM Gesellschaft für Handwerksmessen mbH, which organized the show. “We wanted opticians to know about this visual revolution and to see the potential of the technologies and applications of smart glasses at a fairly early stage of their development.”

Exhibitors presented data glasses and 3D software technology that allows customers to try on spectacle frames virtually, while the lectures included one on 3-D printing in optics.

Another intriguing eyewear trend on display was eco-design. An estimated 70 companies worldwide, including some of opti’s exhibitors, now employ eco-design, which involves the use of natural materials, including cork, stone, leather, textiles, bamboo and paper, to create frames. A creative niche of this trend is called upcycling, in which existing products get a second life in the form of eyeglass frames. One company makes glasses from vinyl records and old films, while another uses the decks of discarded skateboards to create wooden glasses.

Quality is the foundation of opti’s success, said Dohr, adding that the Germany optical industry is 100 per cent behind the show. That commitment, added to the show’s timing and an incomparable atmosphere, make opti a can’t-miss event.

“This event accelerates the heartbeat of the industry because all the big names are here, competing for the attention of opticians. Taking part in opti is essential for anyone who has the desire to go on an expedition through the ophthalmic world.”

opti provides its audience with the full range of ophthalmic products, from frames, lenses, contact lenses and low vision to shop fittings and technical equipment. It is also a platform for product premieres from international market leaders and start-ups alike.

Product descriptions can promise a lot but it is far better to hold the actual product in your hands and personally interact with the manufacturer, Dohr said. “The opti is the best platform for this. »

The optical industry knows that the networking and contact opportunities provided by opti are unparalleled, he added. “This is also evidenced by the large number of first-time visitors to the show. »

Among opti’s 525 exhibitors from 36 countries were a number of new designers, including Victoria Beckham, Tom Rebl, RVS Eyewear from Turkey, Italy’s Apro Spectacles and Conservatoire International de Lunettes, iHuman from France and Germany’s Eric Lauer Brillenmanufaktur.

According to an independent survey, visitors placed orders for products worth over € 178 million (more than $250 million Canadian) during the three days of the show.

opti 2016 will be held from January 15-17, 2016 in Munich, Germany. Mark your calendars now for this exciting and innovative show in the heart of beautiful Bavaria.

Mido Innovates

MidoThe Bestore project is one of the many new projects announced by Mido, a not-to-be missed international trade show in Milano, slated for February 28 to March 2, 2015.

The organizers have decided to offer attendees the best innovative shopping experience in an engaging atmosphere by kickingoff Bestore, an international award for the best eyewear display. Interior design, product display concept, interaction with the customer, communication andvisual merchandising are the criteriathat will be assessed. Store, conceptstore or retail outlet owners can directly apply for the competitionon the Mido website, uploadingphotos of their space and describing their strengths and qualities. An international jury of experts, notonly from the eyewear industry butalso from the marketing and visual merchandising sectors, will choose the winner who will receive the award at the Mido exhibition on Sunday, March 1.

The Bestore project stems from the increasing attention being given by the optical sector to retail marketing, which encompasses all communication and promotional strategies for stores. The goal of retail marketing strategies is to win over a larger and more diversified public and maximize the company’s brand awarness and profit. One of the most effective levers of retail marketing is to engage the customer by providing a welcoming space that can also offer a host of ideas and creative stimuli.

The Magic Mixing Formula: Optifair Does it Again

OptifairBy Paddy Kamen

Who knew that it was possible for everyone could enjoy a continuing education (CE) and trade show event that serves both optometrists and opticians? Ali Khan thought it just might work, back in the days when the two professions seldom interacted. Now, 20 years later, the Optifair model, delivered twice yearly by Khan’s Academy of Ophthalmic Education (AOE), has proven itself a resounding success.

The most recent conference and show took place Oct. 19, 2014 at the Embassy Grand Convention Centre in Brampton, ON. The formula worked its usual magic, with optometrists and opticians showing up on the trade show floor at staggered times, with 30-minute interludes in between. This format serves exhibitors well by controlling the flow of traffic to their booths. The interlude promotes cross talk between the professions, which Khan says was more evident last year because of the regulatory changes in Ontario that now allow opticians to work for optometrists without losing their licences. “The professions are now more interested in connecting and exploring how they can work together,” he points out. “These changes have broken down barriers for both groups and Optifair provides a great networking forum for them.”

One of the reasons for the success of Optifair is the high quality of the CE. Khan and his team continually keep abreast of the issues, listening to the education needs of the professions and responding with fresh and relevant topics, delivered by top notch international speakers. Optifair is also on track with the latest technologies for the CE experience. The April 2014 conference featured a special two-hour grand rounds session for optometrists, with a panel of six ophthalmic doctors representing different specialties, who were presented with challenging cases. Delegates asked questions from the floor via their smartphones, rendering the need to stand up at a mike and ask questions obsolete. “They just loved it and participation was so good that the panel couldn’t even get to all the questions,” notes Khan. “With changes to their scope of practice, one of the key needs of optometrists is to discuss dispensing of medication and this session really helped.”

The AOE also offers CE opportunities combined with travel and recreation. A 2014 summer cruise from Venice to Istanbul was a great success. The next such event takes place next summer at Deerhurst Resort in Muskoka. To learn more, visit:

Bold Vision for New European 2015 Event

100OpticalThe 2015 100% Optical event, which will take place at London’s Excel February 7th –9th 2015, will be a fresh new event for Europe, building upon the huge success of the 2014 inaugural event. The 5,000 visitors to last year’s show clearly demonstrated the need for a major new optical event for Europe, putting the UK on the creative hub map.

For 2015, the event will be 30 per cent bigger than 2014. A number of new and improved features are being introduced to make it even more attractive to members of the optical industry within the UK, Europe and the rest of world. Key features of the event that proved so popular in 2014 will remain, such as the four clearly defined areas of focus (equipment and machinery, lenses, eyewear and business services).

There will be industry ‘hubs’ in each section to encourage networking and the launch of pioneering advancements in design and manufacturing. Attendees will appreciate the specially designed entrance and tunnel that lead to the heart of the event and the large central networking bar.

100% Optical will offer an extensive programme of international seminars (the 2014 event featured 90 hours of seminars with speakers from as far afield as Australia, South Africa, and Israel) and will emphasize a strong visual experience for visitors throughout.

A number of top UK and International eyewear brands have already confirmed their attendance at the event.

Vision Expo West Sparks Excitement

VEW2014By JoAnne Sommers

Exciting product launches and a robust education program highlighted the 2014 International Vision Expo & Conference at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas this September.

The event attracted over 12,500 people, who were treated to a display of 450 brands, showcased in an exhibit hall spanning the length of three football fields. The annual New Product Showcase, one of the event’s major attractions, revealed the next generation of frames, sunwear, optical technologies and designer trends. This year’s winners, as chosen by the attendees, included Amphibia Sports, LLC (1st place), Avantek Eyewear by Hoya (2nd place) and Specs of Wood (3rd place).

Attendees were also introduced to more than 400 hours of continuing education developed by a conference advisory board representing the breadth of the optical field. Over 4,200 eyecare professionals participated in the program, taking courses that focused on timely clinical and business topics such as healthcare reform, the implications and future of wearable technology, and improving the diagnosis, treatment and management of eye diseases.

To enhance the education experience, Vision Expo launched an interactive education format called crowd-sourced learning, which drew rave reviews. Crowd-sourced sessions put the attendees in control of the content they want the speakers to cover. By pairing dynamic speakers with technology that delivers this new learning platform, the conference created memorable programs that set the standard for learning in the future. Moreover, the investment in these tools reinforced the influence that new technology is having on all aspects of the Vision Expo Experience.

FabrizioGamberiniDuring the show, Martine Breton, publisher of Envision: seeing beyond magazine, met with Marcolin Eyewear CEO Fabrizio Gamberini to discuss how that company has evolved to meet the challenges presented by its acquisition of VIVA International in late 2013.

Gamberini said the integration of the two companies is now complete and that as of mid-October they are being run under one umbrella. “From the standpoint of reporting, the purchase of materials and the supply chain we now have one system.”

He also confirmed that the company is focusing its efforts on increasing optical sales for Marcolin and sun sales for Viva.

“In June, we generally invite our large, global customers to Italy and present our Silmo collection, which shows the future of brands like Tom Ford, Cavalli and Balenciaga for the optical channel. We will execute the same strategy on a smaller scale for our strategic accounts across the U.S. in sun only,” says Gamberini. “We are doing the Silmo tour in 28 cities across the country, gathering our largest U.S. accounts to show them the future of sunwear for Tom Ford, and former Viva brands like Guess. The great thing is that when you have a brand like Tom Ford that is driving the market – it’s number one or two in all the department stores – and you show people the future of the brand, you get very good attendance.”


International Vision Expo West will return to the Sands Expo & Convention Center September 16-19, 2015 (Exhibits: September 17-19; Continuing Education: September 16-19).