The Shoe Industry Today...

Brief observations by business owner Frank Giannino

The Footwear Industry has never been more exciting than it is today, whether you are designing footwear, working in a shoe factory or in retail. Fashion is the number one reason consumers purchase footwear. It has always been this way. Today's buyers, however, more than ever before, want comfort too, so they can live more comfortably and perform better. What matters the most to me as a shoe-fitter is that the shoe offers three main features: a comfortable quality upper and quality outsole that features the right amount of "Drop", and a removable shoe insert. The quality upper should have a fastener that insures the heel is seated well in the shoe. Preferably the fastener is a quality pair of shoe laces. The current leader in soling technology, worldwide, is Vibram of Italy. They have a lot of competition, however.
Factories that assemble uppers are also known as Skirt Factories. The best known Skirt Factory in the United States is owned by New Balance and is located in Lawrence, Massachusetts. As far as shoe inserts, there are hundreds of companies today that specialize in the manufacture of shoe inserts. Most shoe and shoe part suppliers manufacture their products in other countries.

A handful of shoe companies are dedicated to manufacturing their shoes in the United States. The leaders in this effort, in our store, are New Balance and Red Wing. Roughly one third of their shoes are made overseas (currently most are made in China). Another third are assembled in the United States with foreign parts. The final third are actually manufactured completely in the USA. This is why we display the New Balance and Red Wing logos in our store window in neon.