The Italian fashion industry generates a large part of its turnover abroad. The eyewear industry is the fashion sector gaining the largest share of total turnover from exports. The European and the American markets represent the main destinations of Italian lenses, frames, sunglasses and eyeglasses. Especially the United States held about 28 percent of the export value, followed by France, the United Kingdom, and Spain. However, further country-specific data show that the fastest growing importing countries were Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Mexico.
The success that Italy has reached in this sector today actually has older roots. In the 1960s, a small eyewear business was founded in the north of Italy, which later became the largest eyewear company in the world: Luxottica. In 2018, the company merged with another leading firm, Essilor. The two companies became EssilorLuxottica. One year later, EssilorLuxottica recorded over 17 billion euros in revenue. Also, the Luxottica segment still accounts for the largest source of revenue for the company.
Another leading player from Italy on the global eyewear market is Safilo. Safilo was founded by the son of Italian emigrants in the United States in the 1930s. Today, the company is based in the north of Italy and generates annual revenues of almost one billion euros. De Rigo also represents a success story for Italian eyewear. Founded in the 1970s by two brothers, the company is highly present in the European market. In 2018, the revenue reached almost half a billion euros.