The Italian footwear sector

In 2022 Italy confirmed itself as by far the leading footwear producer in the European Union (with 161.9 million pairs produced, approximately 1/3 of the total).

Holds twelfth 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 behind China and Vietnam.  [2022 data, WorldFootwearYearbook 2023 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 3,700 companies, over 72,000 employees and a trade balance that has always been active (5.4 billion euros in 2022).
In 2022, the recovery towards pre-Covid activity levels continued after the post-pandemic restart in 2021.
In the final figures – processed for Assocalzaturifici by the Confindustria Moda Study Centre – the new record, even net of inflation, set by exports stands out (EUR 12.65 billion, +23%, almost EUR 2.4 billion more than 2021).
Thanks mainly to the revival of international markets – more than 85% of what is produced is sold across borders – the sector’s total turnover in 2022 stood at EUR 14.49 billion (+14% on the previous year), returning to pre-emergency 2019 levels (+1.2%).

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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