Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The objective of Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags goes beyond simply selling exhibition space. Edition after edition (number 100 will be held in Riva del Garda from 13 to 16 January 2024), it aims to create a business platform that promotes the growth of the shoe and leather goods industry. This offers the market an opportunity to expand its boundaries. However, in order to achieve this, a thorough understanding of the market is essential.

This is the origin of the Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags Around the World initiative, which consists of a series of activities aimed at getting the event to interact with the institutional, production and distribution realities of the sector around the world. Turkey represents the last stage of this initiative.
Prior to our participation in the World Footwear Congress 2023, organised by CEC - European Footwear Confederation and TASD - Footwear Industrialists Association of Türkiye, we had the opportunity to visit our Turkish exhibitors Özil Ayakkabı, Alpino, Alfa çanta and Eternal and touch their shoe and bag collections, finding the perfect mix of quality, care for materials and details, attention to price and innovative and sustainable contents.

Navigating the Future: Insights from the World Footwear Congress 2023

The main topic of the congress was “ReShaping the Future” and the discussions were focused on innovative strategies, trends, technological advancements and sustainability issues within the footwear industry.
Needless to say, it was a rollercoaster of insights!

Embarking on Sustainability
At the heart of it all, Burak ÇELET, the CEO of Desa, took center stage. His perspective echoed loud and clear: sustainability is not a side note; it's the symphony that defines Desa business model. It goes beyond just sourcing responsibly; it's about weaving environmental consciousness into the very fabric of their production process. And across borders, Clementine COLIN RICHARDS, President of the French Shoe Federation, shed light on France's ambitious plans—a 'sustainable textile bonus' to incentivize eco-friendly practices. It's a call to arms for the industry to embrace responsibility in their materials, their processes, and their impact.

Hua LU, the Vice Secretary General of China Leather Industry Association, shared China's journey towards balancing industrial growth with sustainability.
China's rapid industrial ascent came at a cost—environmental well-being. But the narrative is shifting. China, since 2014, has been on a mission to balance the scales. The introduction of the Pollutant Discharge Permit System is a testament to their commitment to environmental stewardship. It's a dance between progress and preservation, and the world is watching.

Sustainability and Innovation as Yin & Yang
A visual treat was Sergio DULIO's presentation, where the Ying & Yang of Sustainability and Innovation merged seamlessly. His bold statement lingered in the air—sustainability isn't a stand-alone concept. It's entwined with innovation, and you can't embrace one without the other. The crux? Embrace digital transformation. From biodegradable materials to AI and machine learning, the industry needs a tech-savvy makeover for a sustainable tomorrow.

Tech Talks
Julia PEREZ DE TUDELA NAVARROfrom Pikolinos and Jonathan RAM, CEO of Clarks, added their chapters to the tech narrative. We need to consider technology as an ally rather than an adversary resonated—the digital realm isn't a threat; it's a lifeline for innovation and leadership.

People Power
The giants in the industry, like Manfred KRONEDER (Deichmann), boasted astronomical numbers, but their North Star is customer-centricity. It's not about following trends; it's about serving people, from everywhere and anywhere. Gennaro Pigliacampo of Calzaturificio Gensi Group went beyond profits; he invested in an in-house academy, ensuring continuous learning for his workforce.

Beyond the Assembly Line
Personal stories from industry leaders like Clementine COLIN RICHARDS (Paraboot) and Giovanna CEOLINI (Thierry Rabotin) painted a vivid picture of a human-centric approach. It's not just about manufacturing shoes; it's about creating environments where workers thrive. Flexible schedules, cross-functional collaboration, and a genuine investment in the next generation—these are the threads that hold the industry together.

The World Footwear Congress 2023 has been a melting pot of ideas—sustainability, innovation, and people-centric approaches are the threads weaving the future of the footwear industry. It's not just about shoes; it's about stepping into a more sustainable, tech-savvy, and people-friendly future.