Silmo: A ‘Must’ for Buyers and Sellers from Around the World

By Paddy Kamen

eventsilmoOptical professionals need look no further than Silmo for globally sourced product, education, business tips and excitement. This past September 29th and 30th , Paris also featured glorious weather – warm and sunny – that was matched by the enthusiasm for all things to do with eyewear, contact lenses and optical technologies within the halls of the Paris Nord Villepinte convention center.

The show was well attended, with 1,000 brands and businesses participating. Even more professionals attended than last year, with 34,671 streaming into the 80,000-square-metre, bright and comfortable hall. While 44 per cent of professional visitors were from France, fully 56 per cent were from other countries, including Canada.

Marie-Sophie Dion, owner of three optical stores in and around Montreal (Bar à Lunettes), makes Silmo an annual ‘must’ on her agenda. She explains: “Silmo is essential for opticians selling high-end frames; it is the best place to buy our stock for the coming year.”

This was the second year for Silmo at the new location, near the Charles de Gaulle Airport. Dion appreciates this. “I like it much better. The ambiance is good, and it’s a modern, high-quality venue with lots of light and fresh air. The exhibit arrangement is good in that it is not too spread out and everything is easy to find.”

Dion’s only disappointment at Silmo was that vintage frame styles were still very much alive. “I was hoping to find them gone but they were bigger than ever,” she notes. Nevertheless she found much to like, including Jason Kirk’s new acrylic collection.”

Michael and Beverley Suliteanu from Westgroupe also make an annual pilgrimage to Silmo to sell to their international clientele, and this year they were especially excited to launch the Evatik sunwear collection. “It was the first time we’ve offered sunglasses,” explains Michael Suliteanu. “All our distributors were thrilled with them and picked them up. We were happy to have them available for immediate shipment.”

“Men’s eyewear can traditionally be divided into two distinct categories: fashion and technical,” observes Beverly Suliteanu. “By marrying cutting-edge technology with fashion-forward styling, Evatik Sunwear defies convention and offers today’s urban male the ultimate accessory to express and enhance his personal style.”

Westgroupe was also delighted to extend its global reach, adding several new countries, including Russia, Japan and the Philippines to its client list.

The iconic American company l.a. Eyeworks was nominated for the Silmo d’Or award for its Rialto frame design. Although they did not win the award, the nomination, “is always a stimulating focal point for activity and discussion,” says Brent Zerger, director of communication. “With the new collection, we were especially excited to advance our proposal for re-imagining the role of metal in the next chapter of the optical vocabulary. Overall, the l.a. Eyeworks collection looked beyond the broader market’s obsession with referential elements and shaping towards a cleaner, more refined emphasis on pattern, surface, and edge. We also debuted a book we’ve been working on for some time, Framed: Greg Gorman for l.a.Eyeworks, a survey of the legendary photographer’s timeless portraits for our advertising campaigns.”

Zerger was encouraged to see new design ideas in the Village section of the show. “Independent designers were pushing new and disciplined ideas that speak to their individual philosophies. The conservative, watchful mood of the past few years seems to be giving way to a thankfully more creative and thoughtful time.”

l.a.Eyeworks has supported the Silmo exhibition from its beginning. “I expect we will continue to do so,” says Zerger. “Although we have our misgivings about the show’s relocation outside the city, the Villepinte location is a perfectly fine facility and we have made adjustments to make the show work for us.”

The second edition of Silmo Academy, a science symposium for optical professionals wishing to enhance their knowledge, drew a great deal of interest, with over 300 participants enjoying talks from speakers with rich backgrounds in science research, academia and the business world. Great care is put into making the academy relevant for all. A scientific committee, chaired by Silmo past-president Guy Charlot, is responsible for symposia content. This year’s themes were children’s vision, reading and myopia.

Optical professionals were further enriched by the merchandising training offered at Silmo. Store design and layout was the subject and, in addition to speakers and a keynote address, personal coaching was available by appointment.

As the world’s premier prize for the optical professions, the Silmo d’Or awards are an intrinsic part of the show. This year’s ceremony was held at the Le Bourget Air Museum, where guests were seated between two Concorde planes.

Gabriele Pezzini, a renowned designer from Italy, was the 2011 president of the Grand Jury. He praised the jury’s expertise, commitment and objective approach to selecting the winners in each category, highlighting the importance of weighing both aesthetics and production, with the end customer always in mind. A list of Silmo d’Or winners can be found at:

Be certain to clear your calendars well in advance for the 2012 edition of Silmo, to be held October 4th through 7th. It’s an event not to be missed!