William Wong, a member of the Scientific Committee of Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags who is in charge of sustainability issues, explains that "there are two major key points that are frequently discussed with regard to sustainability: the supply chain, which is becoming more and more problematically fragmented, and sociability, or social sustainability."
William Wong is founder and president of the Federation of Hong Kong Brands and vice president of the Hong Kong Footwear Association. In 1994 he founded Goddess International Limited, one of the leading slipper manufacturers in the world.
He founded Italian Fashion Galleria in 2010, which distributes and retails "Made in Italy" leather accessories and footwear in China. Wong became the first Asian to win the MICAM Award in 2013 for his work marketing Italian goods in China. Furthermore, he co-founded the Global Footwear Sustainability Summit in 2012, one of the most significant events in the industry.
Along with sustainability, we discussed traceability, that is, the ability to recognise and track an asset's component parts from its raw materials to its final and marketed product, as well as social sustainability. The latter covers issues like international worker safety, living standards and conditions, and human and labour rights.
How significant is traceability in the footwear industry, though? For Wong, it is a recent emergent idea that elicits conflicting emotions and is expected to gain popularity. Many Original Equipment Manufacturers, or OEMs, who produce goods under their own brands, believe that traceability conflicts with the way they typically conduct business. They act as though they do not want to reveal the source of the raw ingredients they utilise in their productions, which is why they do not want to be monitored.
It will undoubtedly take some time and effort to explain to them the idea of traceability and how crucial it is for long-term social and ethical sustainability. In fact, the best approach to make businesses and the footwear industry more sustainable is through traceability.
There was a lot of discussion regarding sustainability and traceability during the June 2022 Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags. These were the main subjects covered by the round tables, activities, and appointments scheduled throughout the course of the four fair days. Wong underlines: “This event is an international meeting point between exhibitors, producers and visitors and it is crucial that we discuss these hot-button topics. This is a great chance to spread knowledge, make people more aware, and encourage the discussion of other viewpoints. All of this can actually assist the market in moving in the direction of the change that is necessary and requested in a particularly by the youngest”.
Transparency and traceability are essential to successful corporate operations. According to William Wong, value chain visibility helps organisations better evaluate opportunities and respond to hazards in their target market, which is growing more and more worldwide, with enhanced security and better communication of ethical sourcing data.