What Is the Footwear Industry?

Kristeen Moore

The footwear industry is based on a number of different sects that help create shoe designs and sell them to customers. Facets of the industry include shoe design, marketing, and manufacturing, as well as retail sales. The process is not as simple as creating a shoe idea and then selling it to customers. This business takes many people from different professional backgrounds to come up with an idea that potential footwear shoppers will purchase and wear.

Once a design gains company approval, shoes are manufactured by a multi-step process.
Once a design gains company approval, shoes are manufactured by a multi-step process.

Shoe design is one of the first components of the footwear industry. Design teams are typically located in corporate offices and work with the heads of different departments to gain approval for new designs. A shoe company does not authorize the manufacturing of a new design without extensive research and approval, but instead rely on marketing teams to play a vital role in the success of new shoe designs. They often research the company’s target market prior to the initial designing process.

The footwear industry designs, manufactures, and sells a variety of shoe types, including athletic shoes.
The footwear industry designs, manufactures, and sells a variety of shoe types, including athletic shoes.

Once a design gains company approval, the shoes are manufactured which is a multi-step process. Most companies outsource footwear production, meaning that production takes place in another country from where the company is located. Some smaller companies manufacture their shoes right in the same building, although this process seems to be rare in the ever-growing footwear industry. Successful and timely manufacturing rely heavily on having the correct types of materials on hand, as well as enough staff to complete the job. Generally one person or a team of people are assigned to completing a portion of the footwear in an assembly line fashion.

After shoes are manufactured, they are boxed and shipped to specific retailers. Some brands of shoes are store-specific, while other companies will sell their footwear in department stores. The pricing of the footwear is set in advance if the shoes are sold at a company retail outlet. If a department store sells a brand of shoes, they will usually buy the footwear from the company in bulk and decide on their own prices.

Marketing professionals play a role in the development of shoes, as well as the efficacy of their sales. A footwear company’s marketing team creates strategies to sell the shoes to make the most profit. This involves advertising techniques, as well as in-store methods such as sales events. The marketing team is completely on top of the sales of footwear and can help to identify new methods to reach customers if current methods are not effective.

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Discussion Comments


@sapphire12- What I do to avoid all of these things is to buy shoes used whenever I can. Lots of thrift and vintage stores have great shoes that are still good quality, and even charity shops can have great finds for less than you could get them anywhere else. It's especially nice when you know you don't really need new shoes, but want something new- instead of wasting new products, you recycle something older that wasn't getting used.


@stolaf23- I really love shoes too, and my problem with the industry is that a lot of footwear industry jobs are still no better than sweatshops, and the prices of the products don't reflect the work that goes into them. I also think a lot of the athletic footwear industry promises miracles it doesn't fulfill. I try to shop around, though, and can usually find something I like when I need something new.


I love shoes, but I feel like the footwear and other fashion industries have gotten really crazy. There are so many cheap shoes being produced that fall apart easily, and then on the other side there are lots of really expensive shoes that are only slightly better quality. It's frustrating, I feel, to find anything anymore that lasts for very long but is also attractive.

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