The Varese eyewear district is the second largest in Italy
Cristiano Milone (Mirage SpA): "We create and make them here, from the first to the last piece"
The eyewear district in Varese is the second largest in Italy: 33 companies that provide work for 1000 people and have billings of over 200 million euros. Last Monday afternoon at Ville Ponti, the Varese Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Anfao and Certottica dedicated an episode of "Venti dell'innovazione" (Winds of innovation) to this territory's historic production.
After the introduction by the Chamber of Commerce, talks by Luigino Boito (Certottica director) and Astrid Galimberti (ANFAO director) were followed by reports from Michele Cecchin (Centro Reach Veneto), Graziano Marusi (coordinator of the ANFAO Technical Commission for sun and protective eyewear) and Giuseppe Da Cortà (coordinator of the ANFAO Technical Commission for allergens) before statements by entrepreneurs Cristiano Milone (Mirage SpA, Venegono Inferiore) and Francesco Conti (Centro Style SpA, Vedano Olona).
"We are here" - said Luigino Boito, director general of Certottica – "because this is an important district, especially for the world of accessories, fashion and plastic frames". Varese is still "a complete eyewear district because the entire supply chain is represented here" underscored Astrid Galimberti, director general of ANFAO.
Giuseppe Da Cortà, coordinator of ANFAO technical commission for allergens, said that one of the problems associated with these products is the use of chemicals. Nickel in particular is responsible for dermatitis in 20% of the population of Europe. "It is incredible, but when it comes to eyewear" - added Michele Checchin of Reach Veneto - "nobody thinks about chemicals and yet they are there".
However, there is a European regulation that governs this aspect and indicates precise measures that Italian firms have been taking for some time now. In fact, Italy is one of the countries with the most advanced research in this field, as explained by Graziano Marusi, coordinator of ANFAO Technical Commission. But frequently it is not enough because anyone selling in emerging markets comes up against barriers and very complicated rules.
Exports are a very important part of this sector. There are firms like Mirage SpA of Venegono Inferiore that export almost all of their products. "We export all over the world" - explained Cristiano Milone, owner of Mirage - "but we have only one customer in Italy. Our products are pure Made in Italy because we create and produce everything here: from design to the materials we use".
As we said, the province of Varese has a complete supply chain and this is a winning factor in the continual development of the district's companies. For example, when talking about chemicals and their effect on this type of production, we must also talk about the research into new and eco-sustainable materials. Castiglione Olona is the location of the Varese eyewear district where everything started. For over a century and a half it has been also that of Mazzucchelli SpA, the company that has developed and patented very innovative materials, including bioplastic M49, which Mirage uses especially for products exported to the USA.
Thirty-six years ago, Francesco Conti opened Centro Style SpA at Vedano Olona: 120 employees, 5 product lines, a subsidiary in the United Kingdom, an agent in Spain and a network of 40 distributors abroad for the exclusive supply of optical stores and chains in over 80 countries. Manufacturing abroad is not a problem for him provided that creativity also comes from Italy. "We have to do what the market wants" – Conti concluded -. "The future will be increasingly similar to what we do".
(photo, from left: Cristiano Milone and Francesco Conti)