Looking both ways for sales - report from Mido Milan 2012
03 April 2012 18:25
Chinese mainland and Hong Kong production carved out a niche at Mido 2012 in Milan, with a hive of activity at the Asian Pavilion where firms were based. That was a reflection of robust trade to and from each market.
Last year, Hong Kong companies' exports took worldwide sales of 4% compared with the Chinese mainland's 1.6%, according to figures presented at the fair.
|Kids' frames from Inottica.||Cool shades: Frency & Mercury.|
But where it comes to eyewear, Hong Kong and the Mainland have also become important export destinations for global sales and strategic gateways in Asia.
|Mixed market returns.|
Demand in respective markets is growing. For example, Italy, one of the major world producers of eyewear brands, last year registered a 28.8% increase in exports to China. That's reflected in the fact that Chinese and other Asian consumers treat eyewear as fashion now rather than as a commodity.
This year, Mido also showed that the US market is back in growth; experts said millions of Americans carry multiple pairs of spectacles.
Also, the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia and India continued to expand, even though at lower rates than in 2010.
The bad news was that for 2012 worldwide, demand for eyewear would drop, with a meagre expected growth of 2.8%.
|D&G gold line.|
Producers are conscious of the fact that most of the demand would come from the high-end sector. Even for lower segments, businesses will have to ensure that their products are fashionable, as well as highly innovative when it comes to materials and technology.
Last year, of the European markets in Italy, Germany, Spain and France, sales of spectacles rose an average of just 1.9% over 2010. Germany stood out at 4.5%.
The sunglasses sector, however, jumped a robust 5.3% over the same period, mostly due to the unusually sunny summer weather last year.
Ophtalmic lenses posted a slowdown, as a consequence of the economic crisis.
Colours and non-colours
|Party time for sunglasses.|
Of the major trends, a so-called "Party Style" featured heavy colours, pushy lenses and shot-effect, mixed acetates; by contrast, there were simple, elegant metal frames in gold.
The "Arctic Queen" look consisted of "non colour" frames, such as in white and mother of pearl. This eyewear took its inspiration from Nordic countries, with sophisticated shapes and elegant silhouettes.
There was also a "Remake" approach; this featured vintage looks from the 1940s, in which classic forms returned in neutral and traditional colours.
Another channel was a 1950s style, emphasising shapes of "cat" model spectacles.
There were 1960s and 1970s oversize frames, while the 1980s and 1990s were characterised with mirror glasses.
The "Allure Minimal" style featured clean lines and hazardous, round, oversized shapes or "nerd-like" squares.
Coloured, shaded and smoke-grey lenses were present, while acetates were often used with graphic patterns.
A "Gipsy" style consisted of witty, couture eyewear with dusty and animalier nuances. This also featured warm colours, textures, graffiti and materials, such as wood and leather.
"Moonlight" showed itself through innovative shades, featuring a glitter effect.
|Coloured and shaded frames.||The vintage look.|
Mido was an important showcase for innovation and technology.
For instance, Italian producer Acanto presented i.Care and Shield eyewear, with technology based on the use of silicon biomagnets, capable of converting harmful smog so it won't affect the eyes.
|iCare and Shield eyewear.||Sporting eyewear.|
The exclusive manufacturing process guarantees completely solder-free glasses. Consumer prices range from Euros160 to Euros200.
German manufacturer Rodenstock presented its Better Vision system and the new progressive lenses Personal EyeModel, which gives the wearer a visual field of up to 40% wider, compared to traditional lenses.
The company's new Porsche sunglasses will satisfy fashion victims that seek better technology too.
|Rodenstock Porsche sunglasses.||Carl Zeiss presentation.|
Pure creativity supported by technological lenses was featured by Germany's Carl Zeiss Vision Sunlens collection, designed by Simon Chim, the Hong Kong designer who invented the Recycle Paper Frames technique.
|Lay: Hong Kong is a strategic base.|
The new lens consists of coating frames, with recycled paper and a number of lacquered coats. Very innovative also were two new technologies. Maximum Intermediate Distance(MID) and DuraVisionTM Platinum, are tough, break-resistant lenses.
Ulrich Krauss, Member of the Executive Board at Carl Zeiss said: "the Asian market is developing dynamically and there is a strong demand in China of optical lenses for short-sighted children, for whom there’s a specific production".
Internationalisation represented another fundamental key to a winning business model.
According to Sherry Lay, Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer with US-based Viva International Group said: "Hong Kong is strategic for entering the Chinese market. Our sales in [South] Korea, Brazil and India carry high import duties. The US market is recovering".
Better business for Hong Kong firms
Rich Trend Industrial, whose factory is located on the Chinese mainland and with offices in Hong Kong, is doing good business in Europe. "Our production features skiing, diving, and other sporting masks, which have bright patterns and technical prints," said Sam Lee, Sales Manager. "In Asia, our best market is Japan, followed by Hong Kong itself and South Korea, Peru and Venezuela".
For Lezoptics Manufacturing Limited, Germany is the top European market. But Kathie So, Assistant Sales Executive, registered less business at Mido than in the past.
Products included acetate and metal designer frames, with prices ranging from US$13 to US$15.
|So: German market is the best.||Jet Hing Optical products.|
Sean Lee, Sales Executive of Hong Kong's Jet Hing Optical Industrial said: "our products are not suitable for emerging countries: Chinese consumers now look for higher quality, but we do more sales in Europe".
Kenny Hu, Director of Trendstyle Optical Ind of Hong Kong pointed out that Mido is interesting for business in Europe, but its main export market is Japan. China is a promising economy and the growth trend in the US is improving.
Wood frames were Trendstyle's new items. Prices ranged from US$6 to US$10.
At Mido this year more than 1,000 exhibitors and 42,000 visitors attended.
from special correspondents Cristina Bellavista and
Clara Dodino, Milan