The Shoe Snob Blog

December 5, 2011

Written by , Posted in News

Globalization: The Rise & Fall of the Shoe Industry

As it quickly creeps up to the end of another 365 day chunk of my life, I thought that it would be nice to reflect on what has happened, what is happening and the possibility of great change to come, within the shoe world. Let me start off by saying that for most of my life, I had the feeling that 2012 (the year that I turn 28) was going to be a significant year for me. I don’t why, but for some reason I always felt that age 28 was going to be a year of greatness, where many significant things happen. While I won’t divulge into the personal things, this upcoming year will hopefully mark my official entrance into the shoe industry, not only as someone who has supplied the world with information, but more so, as someone who supplies the world with a product that they can truly appreciate. However, the more time that I spend in the shoe industry, observing everything around me, the more that I feel there is so much to work on, as I truly believe that for many, the idea of quality has been swiftly replaced by the idea of a high profit margin. This unfortunate idea has led to the demise of many brands.

I most likely would have never thought of these things one year ago, but as I try and work out the pricing of my own shoes to make a fair price for my customers, the more that I realize that so many shoes are insanely marked up, for what seems to be solely for the purpose of their name being etched on the shoe somewhere. This idea hit me quite hard when I was wondering around the shoe floor of Galleries Lafayette in Paris a little while back. Never before had I realized that so many brands charge incredibly high prices for such low-quality products. It simply boggled me. There were shoes that were in the same category of pricing as Edward Green but were about 1/100 of the quality. Go figure….It suddenly dawned on me that because of globalization, companies around the world were able to flourish internationally and take their business to levels never seen before, but also outsource cheaper labor while at the same time raising their prices. And in 2011, this is what we are left with. But I believe that I am not the only one who has noticed this and others, like me, are hoping to use globalization in a positive way to get more fair prices to the people.

There was a time when the US and the UK (more so) flourished as shoemaking industries and were known for making only high quality products. But once these companies became able to use factories across the world where laborers charged a significantly lower fraction of the cost in respects to their native workers, many of these factories dried up and disappeared, leaving only a memory of what used to be great. But now, as factories across the world are sprouting up in places that you would have never thought of, able to do good work for fair prices, there could be a change. This change may not occur next year, or in 5 years, but I am betting that many people (consumers) are becoming more conscious of what makes a shoe worth it’s cost and companies will start wising up to the fact that people will not buy a £600 shoe when it is only worth £50…..

Photos Courtesy Of: Style Forum
They show a goodyear welted boot made to order from Vietnam