The 92nd edition of Expo Riva Schuh, held June 15-18, attracted more than 12,000 visitors from 111 countries, largely in line with the score a year ago and with organizers' expectations. The trade show had 1,462 exhibitors, of which 266 were Italian and the rest foreign, the largest delegation being as usual Chinese.

The trade show included the 3rd edition of Gardabags, the new handbags exhibition in the Italian town, which for the first time was located in the same building as the footwear event in Pavilion D of the exhibition hall. Gardabags had 83 exhibitors from nine countries. Pavilion D is a recently built extension of the exhibition center which includes Hangar D, a multifunctional space for events, interviews and business meetings. The organizers noted that 35 percent of the visitors who had registered for Expo Riva Schuh had expressed interest in visiting Gardabags as well.

Sustainability was the main theme for this edition of Expo Riva Schuh, with an interesting presentation made on the first day of the show by Lars Doemer, director and co-founder of the GoBlu consultancy (see the related article in this issue).

Giovanni Laezza, general manager of Riva del Garda Fierecongressi, the company that manages Riva's exhibition hall, stressed that his company is the only Italian fair organization to have an ISO 20121 certification for the sustainable management of events. The objective is to involve suppliers in a “sustainability pact” ranging from waste management, a rational use of water and the elimination of disposable plastics, he said. The company aims to get at least 85 percent of the waste generated during Expo Riva Schuh and Gardabags recycled next year.

The show wanted to point out the potential of going green, citing a survey carried out by McKinsey & Company with the Italian fashion association Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, showing that 70 percent of consumers are willing to pay 5-10 percent more to buy an environmentally friendly product rather than a more polluting one. The organizers claimed that this is prompting retailers to increasingly focus on green products.

Expo Riva Schuh also faced for the first time the direct competition of a rival show being held simultaneously in Milan, Misaf-Milan Shoes and Accessories, with the purpose of presenting Chinese producers. The event was organized by the Chinese chamber of commerce for the import and export of footwear and Plum Solution. It ran June on 15-17 and was held in the East Est Studios of Via Mecenate.

Despite the competition, the number of exhibitors at Expo Riva Schuh was down only slightly from 1,474 a year ago. Comparatively, there were only 102 stands at Misaf, including those of manufacturers of sports shoes and accessories such as hats, handbags and small leathergoods.

Ying Wang, secretary general of the chamber of commerce, said that it was the first time that such an initiative was undertaken in Europe by the Chinese shoe industry. He noted that the European Union is the main export market for Chinese footwear and that Italy is a key importer.

Mario Boselli, president of the Italo-Chinese Institute, said that Misaf complemented the partnership between Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana and the China Fashion Association, setting Milan as a platform for a “strategic alliance between China and Italy, also in footwear.”

Milan has been aggressive in absorbing trade shows previously held in peripheral locations. Few of the people we spoke to at Expo Riva Schuh knew about Misaf, but some did and made the effort to visit the show. One of them was Karen Hengst, creative director of the Dutch footwear trading company run by her family, Hengst. For decades, Hengst has been presenting its collections at Hotel Angelini in the town of Torbole, touching Riva del Garda, during Expo Riva Schuh. Those interviewed overwhelming said that they enjoyed coming to Riva del Garda but also admitted that they would have to follow their clients if they preferred to do business in Milan.

The next editions of Expo Riva Schuh and Gardabags are scheduled for Jan. 11-14. The next Misaf edition will also be held in January. No precise date has apparently been set yet, but it expected to be held in connection with the Milan Fashion Week.