Silmo 2013: Small is Beautiful

By JoAnne Sommers

event_silmoCreativity and innovation took centre stage as Silmo 2013 played host to the global eyewear community in Paris in early October.

Much to the delight of André Bélanger, president of Montreal-based Mood Eyewear, the event, which attracted more than 35,000 visitors – 44 per cent French and 56 per cent international – showcased boutique eyewear designs among the products presented by the 950 exhibitors.

“Many large manufacturers stayed away this year and we saw greater creativity in the collections from smaller companies,” says Bélanger.

During the recent recession, many companies, including smaller ones, played it safe with vintage styles, for which there was a ready market, he notes. “Boutique products were less bold than they had been and it got very boring.”

Realizing that they couldn’t compete with major manufacturers on those terms, smaller companies have returned to their strength, which is creativity, says Bélanger.

For Joseph Tallier, owner of New York-based OGI Eyewear, Silmo 2013 was a great success.

“We had a fantastic show. Attendance was up and people were there to buy. There’s an appetite for original, innovative products from smaller boutique companies like ours and we had our best show in five years.”

Visitors to OGI’s booth came from Southeast Asia, Russia and the Middle East and the company opened in Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Philippines, Tallier says.

Amin Mamdani, vice-president of operations and buyer for Toronto’s Josephson Opticians, noticed a lot of acetates at this year’s show. “Acetates will remain strong for the foreseeable future because metal is more expensive to manufacture,” he predicts. “We also saw more colour and a lot more matte finishes than before.”

Bélanger noticed that eyewear companies are looking at new ways of making frames. “Acetates are twisted together, for instance. They’re re-thinking the vintage trend, with classic shapes in interesting fluorescent colours, such as orange and hot pink inside, with black outside.”

Unlike Mamdani, he thinks that metal is set to make a comeback in the near future. “The market is saturated with acetate right now and some manufacturers said their next collections will be half metal.”

Show organizers outdid themselves with this year’s Silmo d’Or ceremony. The setting was the Showcase nightclub, beneath the Pont Alexandre III in Paris and designer Mathieu Lehanneur, president of the selection committee, awarded trophies in eight categories, as well as the Jury’s Special Award designated by the committee.

Next year’s Silmo show will run from Sept. 26-29, 2014. Mark your calendar now.