Italian Delegations Make Connections

By Nicky Fambios

Building on their 2012 success in Toronto, the Italian Trade Commission, in collaboration with the Italian Optical Goods Association (ANFAO), held its second i-Glasses workshop at Loews Hotel Vogue in Montreal on May 14 and 15.

Delegates from 18 Italian companies (more than double last year’s number)  had approximately 900 appointments with representatives of over 50 Canadian eyecare businesses.

According to first-time visitor, Amin Mamdani, “It was a little bit like optical speed dating.” The buyer and vice president of operations for Josephson Opticians in Toronto was attracted to the event, in part by the prospect of developing new relationships. He found the 20-30-minute sessions provided the opportunity for solid introductions to be made. “There’s not enough time to go over everything a company has to offer,” says Mamdani. “But all of the exhibitors were excellent about following up afterwards.”

Giulia Valmassoi, administrative director of Thema Optical, participated as an exhibitor for much the same reason. “We don’t have distributors because we prefer direct contact with our customers,” she explains. “We feel it helps us better meet their needs and really encourages feedback. Canada has a lot of potential and we were hoping to make some new connections.” Valmassoi was pleased with the results: “We opened new accounts and had the chance to start dialogues with a number of managers.”

The family-run business was showcasing its iGreen eyewear line, a collection of distinctive, high-technology frames with interchangeable temples made from revolutionary polymers that are as strong as metals, yet ultra-flexible.

For Mamdani, this kind of product originality is an important factor for eyecare professionals (ECPs) to consider. “The i-Glasses workshop offers some fantastic private label opportunities,” he states. “This is also a great occasion to find something unique.” Differentiation is crucial in today’s competitive market and the event had no shortage of novel items to help practitioners stand out.

The Dulf Design collection, presented by the Lastes Group, was a prime example of the possibilities available to ECPs. Designed by Austrian architect Heidulf Gerngross, and manufactured in Italy, the collection integrates the Golden Ratio theory of proportion often associated with Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man and frequently found in furniture design. Each shape and colour is limited to only 75 pieces, ensuring the line’s exclusivity.

Returning for the second time, Trevi Coliseum showed off the latest that theirClark, Coliseum and Cotton Club collections had to offer. The company’s export manager Stefano Vanin also took the opportunity to introduce the recently launched 2Senses frame to Canadians. 2Senses looks like an ordinary pair of glasses; however, this ingenious model allows for a hearing aid to be inserted discreetly into one or both temples, rendering it nearly invisible.

With so much in the way of innovation, creativity and quality, it’s no wonder that Mamdani doesn’t hesitate to recommend i-Glasses to other ECPs. “It’s well organized, there’s no pressure to buy and it’s the perfect platform for understanding Italian manufacturing,” he explains. “There’s definite value to this event.”

Italian Trade Commissioner Pasquale Bova is glad to hear it. “We’re very pleased with the success of the workshop,” he shares. “We’re looking forward to making it even better next year.”