Lia Pittarello, Bruno Conterno, and Paolo Villa represented the many exhibitors and buyers who have been making the event great every season for 50 years.
Lia Pittarello, a buyer for 60 years for the Italian family business that distributes footwear, handbags, accessories and clothing, thanks to a network of outlets that has 65 stores and employs about 1,000 people.
“I practically grew up in a shoe garden and started attending Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags about 40 years ago, when most of the event was still held in hotels.”
Having traveled the world, what drives Lia Pittarello to return to Riva del Garda? “I go back because it is a very welcoming fair, easy to visit, where there is Italian product as well as a wide selection of international proposals. In such a context it is easy for the comparison with the market to be very rich and useful.
In addition, it is the first fair of the season, so it allows to view a preview of the proposals that will invade the market in the following months. I would also add, to the virtues of the event, the variety of product types, which for a chain like ours is fundamental.”
For Bruno Conterno, founder and CEO of Nice Footwear – a company that operates as a specialized player in the design, development, production, and distribution of sneakers, footwear, and luxury bags -the fair is a unique event because of the ‘spread of beauty’ it gives: “For a business event it is important to meet excellent companies, as happens at Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags, but if it happens in a setting that also offers wonderful nature, as well as top hotels and catering, doing business becomes a pleasure. You almost feel proud of the beauty that Italy can offer and that it shows to guests from all over the world.”
‘Pragmatic’ is the last adjective Bruno Conterno uses to describe the Riva del Garda fair, noting the event’s ability to present a product that can stand on the market, as well as provide the opportunity to become informed and learn more about the most interesting issues for the sector, both commercial and strategic.
“We are among the oldest exhibitors at Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags. Probably my father – who is still active in the company today at the ripe old age of 80 – was one of the first exhibitors to join the project. In those days, the event was held exclusively in hotels and involved several towns overlooking Lake Garda. I think I was with my father for the first time at the age of 12. There was a lot of work and a lot of fun as well,” these are the memories of Paolo Villa, CEO of Villa Group, a company that has been operating for more than 50 years in the footwear sector, and recently President of Assoprov.
In a fairly homogenized international fair scene, Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags maintains its own character of diversity sustains Paolo Villa: “These are no longer the days when one would find oneself at the Tiffany disco to have a night out with colleagues and clients after intense days of work, but it remains a special event because of the wonderful location in which it is held and the opportunities for pleasant get-togethers with suppliers and buyers even outside the institutional venues of the fair.”