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What is the Shoe Industry?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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The shoe industry, sometimes called the footwear industry, is the entire apparatus involved in designing, producing, and selling shoes. This industry is made up of complex interrelations between fashion, manufacturing, and popular opinion. There are many corporations in the shoe industry, and corporations are overwhelmingly dominant in this industry over small designers. While this industry is closely related to the fashion industry, its concerns are not always the same, and its strategies often diverge.

When people think of the shoe industry, they often think of large corporations that make sneakers and a wide variety of other shoes. Shoes can be made by small designers as well, although these are not as common. This industry is particularly interesting because almost everyone in the entire world needs and, when possible, wears shoes. Shoes are considered a necessity in most parts of the world, which puts unique demands on the industry.

One major aspect of the shoe industry is manufacturing. Many problems within the shoe industry have arisen due to concerns about how shoes are manufactured. The materials used to make shoes are often not very environmentally friendly, and many shoe companies have been accused of using unfair labor practices in certain countries. These claims are not unusual for any industry with a large number of poor-quality products.

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Design is another major aspect of the shoe industry. Shoe designers must take into consideration comfort and longevity with much more seriousness than other fashion designers given the way in which shoes are used. In fact, many shoe designers eschew purely decorative features when they interfere with the practicality of the shoe. On the polar opposite end, high fashion shoes may be entirely impractical. Differences in design often depend highly on the part of the industry being looked at.

Marketing shoes has much in common with the fashion industry, but shoes are more often advertised in relation to professions or hobbies. Specialty shoes may be related to sports players or other professionals. Often, the cultural value of a shoe can elevate the product to a price much higher than the cost to manufacture it. As such, the cost of getting the shoe endorsed can be well worth the high price in some cases.

Just like other industries, the shoe industry has a culture, standards, and a long history. The footwear industry has magazines that report on trends, new designs, and major players in the field. It also has a number of awards, shoe-related charities, and specialty training programs, some of which are sponsored by major companies. While major corporations currently dominate the market, there are some independent shoe designers considered major players in this industry.

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