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Italy's eyewear sector sees upward trend in post crisis era

MILAN, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- 2015 was an excellent one in the post-economic crisis era for Italy's eyewear sector, industry experts said here on Friday.

At the opening conference of MIDO, the Milan eyewear show which runs from Saturday to Monday, it was announced that in 2015, Italian eyewear production totaled 3.6 billion euros (3.9 billion U.S. dollars), up by 12.5 percent over 2014.

In 2015, there were 870 companies in the country, 0.2 percent more compared to 2014. Exports of frames, sunglasses and lenses, which account for almost 90 percent of production by the sector, rose by 12.3 percent over 2014 to 3.4 billion euros.

The main export market for sunglasses and frames in 2015 remained Europe, with 49 percent share of exports, followed by United States with 30.5 percent and Asia which absorbed 18.2 percent, posting a growth of 14 percent, with China at 42 percent. In terms of suppliers, imports from Asia continued to take the lion's share at 73 percent, figures showed.

The Made in Italy was a driving factor for exports, MIDO president Cirillo Marcolin said. Sophisticated consumers are willing to spend more, so that higher costs for companies are more than offset by the benefits of product image and quality, he noted.

In fact the comeback of Italian production, especially for the very high-end of the market, dubbed "reshoring" or "back to Italy," has been gathering pace even among the large eyewear companies, he pointed out.

"Clients want something that can reflect their personality. Eyeglasses in the course of years have evolved, they continue to have the main function to correct vision and protect from sunlight, but are also an important accessory, a key side of us that we immediately show to others when we meet them," Marcolin told Xinhua.

Marcolin added eyewear companies in Europe have been wrong when looking at China as a place where they could produce their goods more easily because of its low cost of labor. "They did not realize at the beginning that China could potentially be the largest market in the world," he said.

"But now European companies are paying increasing attention to this market, they have also produced collections that are particularly suitable for the Asian customers and represent a sort of Asian style. Many Italian companies are working on this trend and I believe there are a lot of opportunities only waiting to be seized," he added.

This year at its 46th edition, MIDO is among the eyewear industry's most important international events.

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