DaTE, the growing Italian mini-expo held every month of September before Silmo Paris for the past two years in Florence, will be holding a special new edition for the U.S. market next year. It will start with a small show in Santa Monica, California next May, hosting a minimum of 50 firms. The organizers feel that their number will go up in the end to between 80 and 90, possibly including some special non-Italian brands.

Organized by Mido, the big eyewear show in Milan, and its long-time partner, Fiera Milano, DaTE has been held for the past six years in Milan and Florence as a more designer-oriented counterpoint. A commission decides which brands, regardless of their nationality, meet the expo's criteria. DaTE's management selects companies that have a certain type of product, image and distribution.  The Italian trade show will still take place in 2019, running from Sept. 21 to 23, with its usual minimalistic furnishings and the usual location at Leopolda, a former railway station in Florence.

California was chosen as the venue for the new spring event because the big American state doesn't host a similar show in the sector. A group of officials is already at work selling mini-stands. Several exhibitors whom we consulted in Florence, especially those who already export to the U.S., are inclined to sign up.

Many Italian producers do considerable business as third-party manufacturers, and for them Santa Monica could become an important center for the distribution of high-quality branded and private label items made in Italy with a special twist.

An investigation conducted by the Italian foreign trade agency, Ice, indicates that American clients cherish a certain set of values connected with the new initiative: an avantgarde positioning of the product, an alternative to the mass market, a special identity, transparency and storytelling. Many of the entrepreneurs who show at DaTE in Italy are artisanal firms that have the courage to try out new shapes and new materials.

The new American eyewear show will be organized by Fiera Milano in cooperation with Ice, which will promote it with a media campaign in the major U.S. cities.

The announcement of the new U.S. show was made at the sixth edition of the fair, which closed in Florence last Monday, hosting more than 200 select brands from Italy as well as the U.S., Japan, Austria, Denmark, the U.K., Spain, and France. That was up sharply from one year ago, when 135 brands participated in the event, but the number of buyers and other industry professionals declined to a still respectable level of about 3,000 from 3,500 in 2017, when the novelty and attractivity of the venue caused a jump of 40 percent from the score previously attained in Milan.