The Italian footwear sector

Despite the serious consequences induced by the pandemic, Italy is the leading shoe manufacturing country in the European Union (with 130.7 million pairs produced); holds thirteenth place amongst world-wide footwear manufacturing countries in volume terms.
It is the eighth exporting country in the world in volume, but the third in terms of value.
[2020 data, WorldFootwearYearbook 2021 edition].
Italy has always been the undisputed leader among manufacturers of luxury and high level shoes having a high fashion content.

The Italian footwear sector is one of the pillars of the Fashion System.
It has about 4,000 companies, over 70,000 employees and a trade balance that has always been active (5.15 billion euros in 2021).
After the sector’s collapse in 2020, as a result of the lockdowns and restrictions over the two waves of the pandemic, there was a natural rebound effect in the second quarter 2021 followed by a less intense growth trend. Total turnover of the sector reached 12.7 billion euro (after dropping to 10.7 billion in 2020), still a long way from the 2019 figure of 14.3 billion.
Higher raw materials and energy costs are getting in the way of growth. There is major concern about the effects of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which erupted at the end of February 2022.


The footwear sector represents a reality of extreme qualitative and quantitative importance in the Italian economy.
The success of the sector in Italy is linked to the lively entrepreneurial spirit and to the typical structure of the sector, which is part of a “supply chain”, an operational system consisting of sub-suppliers of raw materials, tanneries, components, accessories, machinery manufacturers, model makers and stylists.

This has resulted in a territorial concentration of companies and the formation of shoe manufacturing districts. The main districts are located in the following regions: Marches, Tuscany, Veneto, Campania, Lombardy, Apulia and Emilia Romagna and cover 23 provinces.

The leading position of the Italian shoe industry on the International markets 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.

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