Interviewee: Amélie MOREL MARTIN (Silmo President)
The epidemic has changed our lifestyles a lot, with more reliance on digital tools, social distancing, cashless payment, etc. How do you see the impact on the whole eyewear industry?
This crisis has brought an acceleration of weak signals and emerging trends, including digitalisation, which has demonstrated its usefulness. This planetary event has impacted our industry and is still affecting it, of course, but less so than certain other sectors, which are still paralysed. I think that what we have learned can be summarised in two words: adaptability and flexibility. Our industry has managed to improvise emergency responses that have absorbed the shock, and furthermore will enable us to anticipate future crises that will certainly occur!
What’s the biggest challenge for the industry and Silmo? And how does Silmo cope with the challenges?
The greatest challenge is to look to the future with positivity and to restore the ecosystem, which has suffered. Trade fairs are an important part of that ecosystem, so it is a priority to get things rolling and in working order quickly. The arrival of vaccines is excellent news, and trade fairs should be back on track beginning in the first quarter of 2021. Silmo is ready, because we never cut our ties with the professional community. We have shown that we are responsive by maintaining the features that showcase companies: Silmo d’Or, Trends by Silmo, Silmo Next, Silmo Academy, and others. Moreover, and to reflect the adaptability and flexibility that I mentioned, we came up with Silmo Hors les Murs, a mobile, simplified exhibition concept that assembled some hundred brands and nearly 2,000 opticians in 3 French cities. Thanks to Silmo Family, we are able to produce events in various formats to address current events and the real issues facing markets. We are a kind of task force in the service of the industry’s professionals.
What are your comments about the concept of a “Virtual Exhibition”?
I would start by saying that digitalisation has become essential to us because the tools have proved their worth in these last few weeks. Many trade fairs have decided to hold virtual exhibitions to compensate for the lack of real-life encounters. This is a temporary alternative that has its limits. In-person events remain the best way to discover collections, seek out new brands, handle products, speak with professionals, conduct business… And let’s not forget, build relationships! During the Silmo Hors Les Murs events, we noticed how happy we were to see each other in real life. I believe that, in the future, we must find a balance between virtual and real-life events to better manage economic rationalisation and foster the human dimension.
How do you forecast 2021?
Foreseeing the year 2021 is a balancing act. However, the reported worldwide vaccination against the coronavirus is opening up encouraging perspectives. It is important to remain vigilant, to anticipate what could go wrong internationally, and to invest in the future. This unprecedented crisis is an opportunity that reminds us of how fragile we are, how much we depend on each other, and how we must bring meaning to each of our actions.