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The 99th edition of Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags in June 2023 is set to be another success, as indicated by the opening of Halls A1 and A3, expanding the exhibition area to maximum capacity.

The number of exhibitor companies from China is another factor contributing to this success. More and more exhibitors are returning to Riva del Garda now that the pandemic and strict travel restrictions have eased, increasing the event's variety of offer.

The number of Chinese exhibitors has doubled compared to last January: there are now more than 250 companies from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

We are seeing not only returning exhibitors but also pleasant surprises, like the first time for CLIA - China Leather Industry Association, which is bringing a collective of shoe and bag companies to Riva del Garda, predominantly from Wenzhou, Wenling and Guangzhou.

It will also be the first time for the Municipality of Wenzhou, one of China’s most important manufacturing districts, exhibiting at a representative stand to showcase an important initiative in the global footwear industry.

The strong Chinese presence at Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags offers buyers and distributors an unprecedented selection of products in terms of type, price and quality. Men, women, children, sports (technical and non), comfort and home: every footwear sector is well represented by nearly all the most important Chinese manufacturing districts, whose participation was also aided by the main local representative agencies: Guangzhou Newtop Exhibition Business Co. Ltd., China Foreign Trade Guangzhou Exhibition Co. Ltd., China Leather Publisher Co. Ltd., G&F Co. Ltd., Xiamen L & C Int'l Exhibition Co. Ltd.

This first-hand encounter with such a vast array of Chinese footwear and bags provides some interesting insights into the changes currently affecting the world’s leading manufacturer.


CLIA states: "Our exhibitors have strategically prepared new collections aimed at the European market. Our members also include several manufacturers highly focused on the issue of environmental sustainability. They will be offering bags at the fair made from recycled biomaterials that comply with the Global Renewable Standard (GRS).”


While China is widely regarded as “the world’s factory”, recent macroeconomic movements have demonstrated that even a giant of its magnitude cannot loosen its hold and must strive to continually broaden its client base. This was confirmed by exhibitors of China Leather Publisher Co. Ltd. who in addition to buyers in European countries - such as the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Poland - are also looking for new contacts in the USA, South America and South Africa.


While the majority of the Chinese enterprises represented at the fair manufacture their products directly in China, some have begun to acquire and seek partners or collaborators, or else develop operations in South-East Asia (Bangladesh, Vietnam, India, and Indonesia). This was confirmed by several companies represented by G&F CO. LTD.


Several enterprises at Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags also offer their own brand products, as highlighted by Xiamen L & C Int'l Exhibition Co. Ltd.

An entrepreneurial venture with no shortage of challenges, but also several opportunities. Let's start with the positives: building an export model that leverages B2B e-commerce and allows retail orders and manufacturers to form direct relationships with distribution customers, thus opening up new markets that would otherwise be impossible to penetrate and conquer.

The opportunity to improve the quality of the offering is yet another advantage of producing one's own brand collection, forcing the manufacturer to address client concerns, expectations in terms of sustainability and the quality of the supply chain, while also encouraging progress in design.

There are also plenty of challenges, as mentioned, which include approaching a market often saturated and dominated by major brands with which it is difficult to compete, the need to develop more complex operational processes, and the need to create a distribution network. Recently, the rising costs of raw materials, labour and logistics have also exposed these companies to significant risks.


According to the group of exhibitors represented by Guangzhou Newtop Exhibition Business Co. Ltd., the world of distribution has profoundly changed since the pandemic. Many traders have expanded the range of products they offer, but choose to rely on small, secure orders, preferring to re-order rather than overstock. And they have also significantly diversified their style proposals, often developing their own lines.

In many markets, such as the Middle East, e-commerce has penetrated deeply into consumer habits, altering the distribution network's dynamics.

In light of these changes, many manufacturers have geared themselves to be price competitive and then recover margins by cutting out the middlemen, going directly to the customer and sometimes even offering personalised consulting services.


The exhibitors of China Leather Publisher Co. Ltd. highlighted the crucial difficulties confronting Chinese exports at the moment. For example, having to cope with the reduced and still-stagnant international demand. This, combined with rising raw material and labour costs, has convinced many to direct orders towards South-East Asian countries. Moreover, Chinese footwear is facing stiff competition also in terms of product design, which is becoming increasingly standardised. The only viable solution will be for companies to invest in new designs, materials, and quality.