Introduction by RICHARD SMITH
Who would have ever imagined, just half a century ago, the behemoth shoe manufacturing plants now existing in China; or footwear components being transported almost twice round the world before hitting your local retail store in a ready to wear shoe? Or that the driving force behind almost all levels of shoe manufacturing is fashion and not just durability?
As we enter the second decade of the 21st century the fastest growth in footwear purchases is by using the internet and in emerging economies. These trends look set to continue as interconnectivity becomes even more widespread as many of us will use our Smart Phones to shop on the move.
Last November the biggest and most comprehensive congress on footwear ever held took place in Brazil. The World Footwear Congress (WFC).The topics covered were an encyclopedia of knowledge on the modern footwear business. Free trade and footwear was one hotly debated topic amongst many others.
Now that the post congress euphoria has calmed down one of the world’s leading authorities on the global footwear industry has published a paper summarizing the events and topics covered at the WFC. He modestly calls it a “Personal View” but the author of this introduction, as an attendee at the WFC, can confirm that the paper reads very objectively and is tantamount to an educational tool in its own right.
The author, Peter T. Mangione, pulls all the elements of the footwear business together painting a detailed tapestry on statistics, geography and manufacturing trends in this expanding industrial sector. And we should not be surprised since Mr. Mangione is one of the world’s leading exponents on this industry with over 30 years experience. He served from 1981 to April 2009 as president of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), the largest shoe trade association in the US and is well connected with the shoe industries in such countries as Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Colombia, among others.
In 2009 Mr. Mangione founded Global Footwear Partnerships (GFP) and it is with his permission that we at FashionNetAsia are delighted to publish his paper “World Footwear Congress Rio 2011 – A Personal View”.