MIDO 2023 — the AMAZING, the BAD and the BEAUTIFUL...
As most of you know I just recently traveled to Milano to attend one of the best optical shows, MIDO exhibition. While this was a sponsored trip, I am by no means obligated to feed you with an over exaggeration of my experience. You all know I keep it real AT ALL TIMES so within this article, I will continue to subscribe to doing just that.
—> Some months back I was elated to hear and see that MIDO had collaborated with Thandiwe Muriu a self-taught Kenyan artist, to promote the eyewear show… Her work is breathtaking and shows Kenyan women in colorful printed garments behind beautiful digital(?) textiles and most times with some kind of eyewear on! As a Black American it was great to see an Italian eyewear show collaborate with an African artist… My excitement was taken aback when I saw MIDO manipulate the artists work by taking the original woman out and replacing her with what I believe is an Asian woman… and then to follow, there was another image replaced with another non Kenyan woman... I was shocked and posted to social media my feelings and to my surprise, they responded by saying the artist is indeed aware of the altered images and this collaboration was approved through their management. <— There is certainly a fine line between the artist and their management especially when the management at times does not need full approval from the artist. Thandiwe appears to use only Kenyan women in her art so this seemed obscure to me. However, I do not have any FACTS, I do not know how Thandiwe actually feels about this collaboration, I just know I saw it and I felt it was disrespectful.Something I wish I would have been able to speak to the MIDO organizers about was that expanding your marketing in a diverse way does not have to include black erasure. As I walked through the exhibition, I never saw a visible statement about the collaboration, acknowledgment or citing of the artist. So, it was really bothersome to see HUGE, large scale blown up imagines of the manipulated Thandiwe art at the show...
I try to see things from a different lens. With that, I believe MIDO meant no ill intent whatsoever with the marketing and advertising of this collaboration but that doesn’t mean they did it right. I hope this will be a learning for them and in the future, they will do better at diversifying their marketing without engaging in black erasure and manipulation of one’s art. Alternatively, they could have just used the original images which showcased eyewear and still speaks for the exhibition itself or I suppose, just use the printed background.
With all of this being said out loud, do I think I will receive another invite to MIDO? Probably not, I am unsure… If I do, I will be both surprised and pleased. The real question is: Would I attend on my own dollar. 100% YES! And that’s really what this blog post is about. It’s about the beauty of the show and why I believe more American optical boutique owners should attend + why I find it so inspiring, amazing and beneficial!
This is my second time being in Italy and being sponsored by the ITA. I want to give the agency a huge shoutout and say THANK YOU for allowing me to come to this show again… The people of the ITA are incredible and truly helpful.
Since I came with the ITA I had access to exclusive events like the PRE MIDO itialian eyewear exhibition… This was an intimate venue that showcased made in Italy brands. Each booth curated a small selection of eyewear and accessories to show and get people excited about what they’ll see at the exhibition the following day. I was able to check out brands I have never seen or heard of… and then schedule appointments for opening day!
2 brands that stood out to me here were:
BOBSDRUNK - BobSdrunk Represents contrast par excellence, composed of two opposite sides but in synergy with each other. On the one hand there is bob, the ordinary and classic part of the brand and on the other, there is sdrunk, the more alternative part, the exception to the rule. The union gives birth to a new and unique identity. Each model is a perfect combination of aesthetics and functionality, from the moment of conception all the way towards the creation. Through the careful choice of colors, we emphasize the value of every shape
COMMON GROUND - Common Ground eyewear is a newborn eyewear brand handmade in Italy, with an uncompromising design. Inspired by the generation to come, each COMMON GROUND sunglasses and eyewear represents a breaking point with the past manufacturing generation. Eyewear is not just a medical device but is capable of interpreting everyone's style. Enterprising design and combination of acetates with captivating colors make each pair of glasses a small creature with its own identity.
Following the pre Mido event was a networking cocktail party which I found really nice. I really enjoy meeting new people and seeing what brands others are into and why, this helped me open my mind to some of the brands that I happened to bypass…So happy I was able to be apart of this and it really set the tone for what was to come on opening day!
Being at MIDO this year was so special to me not only as an eyewear influencer and independent eyewear advocate, but also as a business owner. The shows organizers are clearly committed to giving the people a wonderful time with just about everything you can imagine when it comes to optical, eyewear, eyecare and professionalism.
Let’s talk layout! The Fiera Milano, Rho is a huge convention center meaning there was over 1000 exhibitors. I spent most of my time in HALL 2 & 4 where I found the most unique eyewear brands.
Here is a look at one of the pavilions (2&4) and the brands that were within the walls!
Each section takes you on a different journey of eyewear, but the location in which I spent most of my time in was pavilion 4 and lab academy * the green area of pavilion 2*. This is where MIDO is highly beneficial to optical boutique owners who love independent eyewear as much as I do! The lab academy has smaller independent brands that are always looking to expand their worldwide network of retailers. I came across so many lovely brands.. for your viewing pleasure I have selected 4 brands to show you that I came across at the show and for the others.. I guess you’ll just have to see what’s to come when it arrives. ✨✨
Another way in which I discovered new brands was during the awards show! Here are some of the winners:
➢ CSE Award Sunglasses Europe: NEUBAU EYEWEAR - NEUBAU (Austria)
➢ CSE Award Sunglasses Rest of the World: MITA EYEWEAR - Vision of Tomorrow (USA)
➢ CSE Award Frames Europe: EYEWEAR 4 YOU - LLEXAN ITALIA (Italy)
➢ CSE Award Frames Rest of the World: MONOGRAM EYEWEAR (United Arab Emirates)
➢ CSE Award Cases Europe: ECO - MODO EYEWEAR (Italy)
➢ CSE Award Cases Rest of the World: KARUN EYEWEAR - KARUN (Spain)
A beautiful experience indeed...
If you’re anything like me and have a worldwide optical following, I found MIDO to be a beautiful experience when it comes to other opticians and optical boutique owners around the world. I love that although we speak a different language we share a similar interest and came to MILAN to connect and obsess over everything Optical!
I was amazed by the amount of international following I have acquired over the years. From Egypt to the Netherlands, Russia and Spain.. people came up to me and said “ I follow you on social media and love what you do “ that really brought me so much joy!
I am so grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait to continue to #LiveTheWonder for years to come! MIDO left me feeling grateful, proud, inspired, amazed and motivated. Now it’s your turn…
Stay connected and up to date with @MIDO_exhibition on social media and mark your calendar for next year, see you in MILANO 2024!