The future of the Italian footwear industry is luxury

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The luxury shoe is coming to the rescue of the Italian footwear industry: weakened by a negative 2014, the second quarter of 2015 produced a positive result, even though growth in employment remained lukewarm (+0.7%). This is according to data collected by Assocalzaturifici which carried out an analysis of the entire sector in order to take stock and identify the most effective strategies to kick-start the new year.

An important sector: foreign markets.

Italian luxury is conquering foreign markets: exports remain essential in the sector, over 85% of what is produced is sold outside Italy.

Relationships between different countries do have an impact, but looking at the domestic market, conditions vary from one area to the next, where each one has its own specific characteristics. This is undoubtedly a peculiarity of Made in Italy products which can guarantee success – business owners agree that it is important to continue strengthening the value of Italian brands around the world as a key asset of their market strategies. However, in periods of crisis, this aspect can also have a significant impact on company closures: although on one hand there is a slight increase in employment figures, on the other, a higher number of companies were forced out of business in 2015.

Indeed, during the last quarter of 2015, 63 footwear companies closed down: less dramatic than the previous fall (-1.3%) but still going in the wrong direction. The end total of companies amounted to just under 5,000 business units and slightly over 77,000 direct employees.

The crisis in central Italy

Companies in central Italy are suffering the most: for instance, in the province of Fermo, shoe companies are faced with a crisis which is not only a result of the sanctions imposed against Russia but also due to the stagnation of the European market as well as sluggish domestic sales.

In the capital of leather, the industrial area of Tuscany, employees attest that “the sector is on the brink of disappearing”, due also to a lack of specialised training. Moreover, where products are aimed at medium-low level targets, such as in the province of Brescia, the footwear industry performed worse than other sectors of the market.

A winning strategy

So what is the secret to success? Focus on quality. Invest in innovation, with an emphasis on green options and creativity. And it is young creative designers who are the target of the competition “Vegetal shoes: trees, bushes and flowers for a natural collection”, promoted by Sammauroindustria, the association which brings together business leaders in the fashion footwear sector in the area of San Mauro Pascoli (Casadei, Pollini, Sergio Rossi, Vicini).

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