A recap of MIDO 2019: Bringing the latest eyewear trends from Milan to Manhattan

Architecture, fashion, food, lifestyle — Europe just seems to do it better.  It’s no surprise that the hottest trends in eyewear originate from across the pond as well, and that the largest importer of these pieces is the United States.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to attend MIDO 2019 in Milan, Italy. MIDO is the largest international trade show dedicated to the global eyewear sector. It not only exhibits the newest players in the eyewear game, but also forecasts trends globally for the upcoming year. Now if you know my passion for eyewear, you can imagine just how excited I was with the breath of both independent and larger scale eyewear vendors that presented at the show - I mean, talk about a kid in a candy store. From learning about what trends practice owners should be looking out for in the coming seasons, to being introduced to some eclectic and inspiring new collections, I’m thrilled to be able to bring these insights from Milan back to Manhattan.


The forecast for trends echoed what we’ve been hearing from many of our clients in practice, and are as follows (corresponding images below):

  1. The oversized, vintage aesthetic that we’ve been seeing is still hot — think your mama’s old frames from the 80s with a more modern tone

  2. Barely-there aviator — the classic shape that has span generations is getting a bit of a twist with an effortless rimless design

  3. Round, tinted lenses - round styles with more neutral tinted lenses

  4. Angular cat eye with a more flat top design — they forecast that this style will be worn by both the high-fashion metro man and women alike

  5. Bug eye — the look of the 50s and 60s is coming back with new colors and a more modern feel with tinted colored lenses

  6. Extended rectangular — there will be a shift from circular shapes to more boxy styles

  7. Reflective shields wrap around with reflective lenses

  8. XXL frames — the massive frame look that covers most of your face will be a macro, fashion item and won’t be one we see in mass production

  9. Retro square — updated from the past, we’re seeing more rimless styles and geometric shapes with this design 

  10. Demi frames — innovative and semi rimless styles

I spent a good part of my time in the Design Lab - the area dedicated to the ground-breakers and creative visionaries in the industry. As I perused the exhibit, I saw many lines I’ve been a fan of for years, but I was on the hunt for some new talent. Amongst the impressive designs, I was enamored by the more quirky and avant-garde pieces, so I’m sharing a very limited subset of brands I was introduced to from the show that I’m currently coveting.

Emmanuelle Khanh (Paris, France)

A line originally born in the 70s by French model turned designer Emmanuelle Khanh, this eyewear line was revived in 2009 after its fade out in the 90s. The collection is inspired by vintage designs and includes accessories such as eyewear chains and small clutches that will take you back to your mother’s era. I immediately gravitated to this line for it’s feminine aesthetic and oversized shapes. I eagerly tried on every piece like I had uncovered a treasure chest of vintage gems. It was immediately evident that Emmanuelle Khanh was an icon of the fashion world by the styles and colors of the frames, which felt bold yet elegant.

Dzmitry Samal (Paris, France)

A line that should be placed on the walls of an art gallery as much as they should be in any high-end optical boutique. Dzmitry Samal emphasizes unique geometric shapes and bold colors that are sure to make a statement. The inspiration of this funky line comes from a combination of art deco, urban constructivism and 80s video games with a modern twist. The designers are involved in the process from the initial drawing all the way to the final distribution and are therefore open to modifications and special requests in order to completely satisfy their customers.

Nina Mur (Madrid, Spain)

We’ve seen metal, we’ve seen acetate, and in more recent times, I’ve seen frames being made out of wood, but never like this. Not only are these frames designed with an incredible attention to detail, but they are surprisingly light weight and highly flexible while maintaining durability. The line is handcrafted in Madrid using birch wood that comes from replanted finished forests - the same wood that is used in the aeronautical industry. The wood is then covered in epoxy resin, making it both waterproof and resistant to extreme temperatures. The first thing I thought to myself when I saw this collection was that it was truly a work of art. It’s no wonder one of their most recent collections - the Deseraiki collection - draws it’s inspiration from the Guggenheim Museum Bilboa. I had the pleasure of briefly chatting with the designer herself and it was immediately evident that she has a real passion for designing eyewear that is unlike anything else on the market — it’s innovative, beautifully artistic and each piece tells a unique story as no two pieces are completely alike.

The Nina Mur Deseraiki collection inspired by the Guggenheim Museum Bilboa

The Nina Mur Deseraiki collection inspired by the Guggenheim Museum Bilboa

Unique Design Milano (Milan, Italy)

What caught my eye with these frames was their classic design with a slight twist that made them, as their name suggests, unique. UDM manufactures their own line right in Italy and thus can keep their price point affordable with most frames between 100-175 EUR. This minimalistic line is perfect for the cool-cat streetwear style of LA, Miami or New York.

Savile Row (London, UK)

We’re all familiar with the iconic round frame worn by Ben Kingsley in the role he played as Ghandi and Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. I’ve always seen the common thread in the design of these frames, but was never able to pinpoint the brand…until now. An eyewear line dating back to 1898, Savile Row is a line that caught my attention by it’s history and the vast number of celebrity clients that have adorned their frames. This simple, vintage design is timeless and the quality of the frames is impressive, as they are custom made by hand.

savile row .jpg

A very big thank you (grazie mille as they say in Italian) to MIDO for sending me out to Milan for this wonderful experience. I left feeling inspired and excited about what’s to come for the eyewear industry. The countdown is now on for MIDO 2020 — the 50th anniversary of this incredible show, to be held next year in Milan, Italy.


The Monocle Muse