Italy is the leading shoe manufacturing country in the European Union, holds tenth place amongst world-wide footwear manufacturing countries in volume terms.
It's the eighth largest exporter of footwear in the world, but the third in value (the second in value, behind China, considering only leather upper footwear) [WorldFootwearYearbook, year 2018 data].
Italy has always been the indisputed leader for the manufacturers of luxury and high level shoes having a high fashion content.
This is an indication of the success of the Italian footwear sector which with its 4,500 companies, 75,600 employees, a trade balance which has always been active, and a turnover of about 14.3 billion euro yearly [year 2018 data].
The sector is of considerable qualitative/quantitative importance to the Italian economy and represents one of the pillars of the Fashion Network.
The success of the footwear sector in Italy is linked to an enterprising spirit and to the typical structure of the sector which is part of a "web", an operational system consisting of sub-suppliers of raw materials, tanneries, components, accessories, machinery manufacturers, model makers and designers.
This has resulted in a territorial concentration of companies and the formation of shoe manufacturing districts. The main districts are: the Marches, Tuscany, Venetia, Campania, Lombardy, Apulia and Emilia Romagna and cover 23 provinces.
The leading position of the Italian shoe industry on the International market is due to the sector's high level of competitiveness based on the superior quality of the product and an elevated capacity for innovation.
The characteristics that distinguish Italian production in the footwear sector are: creative talent, innovation of traditional manufacturing methods and skilled labour thanks also to the existence of professional training schools; raw materials, accessories and components that are in the forefront for technology and design; flexibility, thanks to the territorial concentration and size of the companies; a wide range of designs to suit current trends and satisfy customer demands; customer service and the "Made in Italy" image.