Director Alessandra Albarelli with President Roberto Pellegrini

It all starts with a question: how could Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags, such a long-lasting and successful event, possibly have come to be in Riva del Garda, a small Italian town in Trentino? An event capable of attracting people from all over the world, of generating such an impressive turnover and becoming a touchstone for international trade in the footwear and, today, also the accessories market.

Over its first 100 editions, the fair has hosted roughly 70,000 footwear collections. An underestimation, no doubt, because this assumes that at every edition, each exhibitor presented only one collection, which is known not to be the case. It has welcomed some 500,000  visitors and, in the last 10 years, has convinced industry operators from at least 100 different countries to come to Riva del Garda, at each edition.

Today, about 80% of visitors come from Europe and a good 20% from non-European countries (a very high number compared to other events).

The question as to how these numbers were possible was answered by the top management of Riva del Garda Fierecongressi, the organiser of Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags, after the institutional speeches by Maurizio Montemagno, General Director for Industrial Policy, Innovation and SMEs of the Ministry of Enterprise and Made in Italy (MIMIT) and Milena Del Grosso, Consumer Goods Office Manager ITA – Italian Trade Agency.

 During the international press conference held in Rome at the Ministry of Enterprise and Made in Italy last Dec. 6, the Chairman, Roberto Pellegrini, underlined that “in 100 editions, Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags has proven to be essential in preserving the competitiveness of Italian and European distribution channels. While Italy is no longer a hub for mass production, we now have the opportunity to be – and remain – a leading hub for worldwide distribution: Riva del Garda is a place for international trade.”

Pellegrini then revealed the secret of the event’s success: “It has always been an event capable of interpreting changes in the market, and accommodating them.

Reflecting on the significant milestones of the fair over the last 50 years revealed a remarkable journey: bolstering the territorial value, fostering successful collaborations between public and private sectors, expanding into global markets and production, restructuring managerial frameworks, and nurturing strong affiliations with production and distribution networks. 

He was echoed by Director Alessandra Albarelli: “It is our internationality, superior to all other industry events, that makes us such an important crossroads for trade: on a global level, 2 out of every 3 pairs of shoes are bought in a country other than the one where they were made.” 

Being a successful event that promotes the Italian footwear and accessories market on a worldwide scale is also a responsibility. An event of this magnitude must strive to be sustainable in every respect, for the environment, people and the territory, as Albarelli pointed out: “Waste recycling, sustainable mobility, greener stands are just some of the initiatives implemented in favour of the environment. Inclusivity, which is also achieved by digitalising the various initiatives, is another crucial objective for us. Speaking of caring for people, worthy of mention is our collaboration with the Sole4Souls Charity Program and the initiatives of the National Consortium of Saints Crispin and Crispinian.”

Lastly, Albarelli spoke of the fair’s positive impact on the Alto Garda region, generating a total economic value of around 29 million euros.

To be a protagonist in the history of Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags, the date is January 13-16, 2024.