The 79th edition of Expo Riva Schuh opens on Saturday at Riva del Garda, Italy, running through Jan. 15. The show will mark the launch of the Friends of Expo Riva Schuh Association, a new group dedicated to the exhibitors, distributors and visitors who have attended the show through the years.

The Observatory of Visitors to Expo Riva Schuh, a study carried out by Diomedea, has noted that 79 percent of the retailers who attend the show regularly participate in its winter and summer editions, and 13.1 percent always do. The Friends of Expo Riva Schuh Association will aim to bring together these loyal individuals, public bodies and companies, as well as local institutions and associations in the sector. The goal is to maximize and promote the history of the event, collecting and preserving an archive to be kept at Riva del Garda. The association will also promote presentations in museums and international fashion and design institutes related to footwear and leathergoods, and will organize conferences, meetings and other initiatives in addition to the Expo Riva Schuh shows.

For this month's edition of the fair, the organizers are expecting 1,214 exhibitors, 878 of them from outside Italy, to show off their autumn/winter 2013-14 collections on 32,000 square meters of exhibition space. Indicating the show's growing international importance, two companies from Mexico will be exhibiting for the first time in an effort to expand in the European market.