Citing «shifting market needs,» MIDO's executives are bringing the fair's exhibition dates forward next year at Milan's Rho-Pero Fieramilano from the usual timeline in early May to a March 6-9 schedule. Confirming what we had already published in EWI last Feb. 29, the announcement was made at the Vision Expo East show in New York earlier this month. Described as a «revolutionary» step, the move will make it possible for MIDO to take place at roughly the same time as other accessory fairs, including the very important MICAM footwear show, the MIPEL leathergoods fair and the MIFUR fur fair, which are usually held at that time in the same large fairgrounds. MIDO will be in different pavilions close to the venue's west entrance.

The dates of the various salons will overlap slightly. The biggest one, MICAM, which hosts more than 1,500 companies, will take place on March 4-7. The new March dates mean that MIDO will be benefiting from and adding to what is now being dubbed as a «world's fashion accessory week.» The region of Lombardy has pledged to invest large sums to publicize the event internationally, but the fairs will no doubt make it more difficult for visitors to find suitable hotel accommodations in Milan at a reasonable price. While MIDO welcomed 46,000 visitors one year ago, MICAM attracted 38,000 visitors at its latest edition a few weeks ago.

Dan Emanuel Levi, vice president of MIDO, said that members of ANFAO, the Italian manufacturers association, had requested MIDO's dates to be better adapted to today's fashion cycles. In fact, buyers of fashion products and accessories do the bulk of their purchasing for the following season in March, not May. Levi added that MIDO had conducted a survey through a consultancy company on the positioning of industry exhibitions, which involved a representative panel of MIDO's exhibitors and visitors. The survey reflected the increasing importance of eyewear as a fashion accessory and the need for frame and sunglass producers to schedule the international presentations of their collections to meet customers' needs.

The organizers also confirmed that MIDO plans to inaugurate a new complementary «MIDO Business Forum» on Sept. 4-6, 2009, in Rome. According to Levi, it will follow a different and less marketing-oriented approach, involving smaller booths in a smaller space, thus resembling a sort of workshop. The officials said that their goal was not to add another exhibition to the busy international calendar but to offer a different format to respond to some companies' needs in terms of costs and timing.

There had been speculation earlier that the new MIDO Business Forum would take place in September 2008 and that it would be housed in a new exhibition complex that opened in 2006 near Rome's Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci airport, connected to Rome by train. It's possible that this was only a project and that the final choice of the venue will depend on the number of exhibitors.

An Italian fair in September makes more sense in combination with one in March rather than in May. Leading Italian companies like Luxottica and Safilo would not comment on the new proposals, but they are expected to receive their full backing. They and other companies should be ready with their new prototypes for both dates, which are not too far from those of the Vision Expo fairs in New York and Las Vegas.

As for this year's MIDO show, running May 9-12, organizers say that its net exhibition space will be 15 percent larger than last year's edition, spreading over 53,000 square meters, with the number of exhibitors reaching almost 1,240. The fair will occupy seven buildings in the Rho-Pero Fieramilano convention center. In this session, the MIDO Design Lab will be relocated to Hall 6. MIDO Tech, the large exhibition area dedicated to machinery and raw materials, will be in Hall 7 along with the MIDO Education program, a series of courses for opticians and optometrists that provide training on such topics as optics, contact lenses, marketing, fashion and management. The eyewear press is being moved to a new area in Corso Italia, the central corridor that links up the fair's halls. EyeWear Intelligence will have its stand there.