Italians put other nationalities in the shade when it comes to wearing sunglasses, with 56 per cent of citizens wearing theirs every day, according to the Associazione Nazionale Fabbricanti Articoli Ottici (Anfao). Last year was a bumper year for the Italian sunglasses industry, with 26 million pairs sold in Italy. Global sales were worth 916 million, a rise of 6.8 per cent on 2001.

The most profitable market for made in Italy shades was Europe, with turnover up 28.3 per cent to over 390 million in 2002. Exports to France and the United Kingdom in particular boomed, showing increases of 34 and 39 per cent respectively, according to Anfao. The second biggest market was the United States, but sales there dropped 11.6 per cent to 321.3 million. In third place was Asia, where turnover grew 8.7 per cent to 164.1 million.