World Footwear


World Footwear Voices: interview with Ricardo Guerra from CIATEC

Jan 8, 2024 World Footwear Voices
Today we bring you a conversation with Ricardo Guerra Sanchéz, Director of CIATEC, a Center of Research working with the footwear industry in Mexico. Watch the new episode of the World Footwear Voices

World Footwear: We are here at the UITIC Congress with Ricardo Guerra from CIATEC and we're going to be talking to him about the Mexican footwear industry.
Ricardo, can you tell us a bit about CIATEC and its main activities?

Ricardo Guerra: Yes, thank you, Joana. Well, CIATEC is a Center of Research in Mexico. This is a center of public research of the National Council of Science and Technology. And we work with the shoe industry: with all the suppliers, all the leather suppliers and chemicals and other materials, obviously, with shoes. It was founded in 1976. So, we count on 47 years of existence. We are now a center working with the shoe industry, but also with the automotive manufacturing and environmental industries.

World Footwear: How about the Mexican footwear industry? What can you tell us about it?
Ricardo Guerra: It is a big industry. We are based in León, Guanajuato. It is a city of major production of footwear as 60% to 70% of Mexican footwear production is in León. I think that with the pandemic condition, we went a little down in terms of the production of shoes. But at this moment, we are growing up and we want to be on the new edge with digital and environmental production and we want to comply with all the international sustainable objectives.

World Footwear: Because you are working in activities to support the industry, I would like to ask you in your view, what are the main challenges of the Mexican footwear industry?
Ricardo Guerra: I think that the first problem is fashion because we have very good craftsman manufacturers. But in terms of design, ideas, and creativity, I think that is something that we need to do more efficiently. We have worked with a lot of industries and other countries like Portugal, France, and Italy, and we concluded that our first problem is fashion. So, we need to progress in that field and learn how to do things more efficiently and learn from the other players of the world how we can do more in terms of fashion.

World Footwear: A lot of people mention that nowadays, they face challenges with the workforce, finding people with the right skills who understand how the industry works. Is that an issue as well in Mexico or not really?
Ricardo Guerra: It's the same thing in Mexico. That is also related to nearshoring. A lot of manufacturers are coming to Mexico, and they all need the workforce. And this is happening across all industries. Also, there is a phenomenon now in Mexico, with craftsmen and manufacturers moving from the shoe to the automotive industry. Why? Because they are more efficient in manufacturing and because they pay better.

World Footwear: So, my next question to you is driven by the fact that we are here at the UITIC Congress. It's been five years since the last congress, and I would like to ask you what is the importance of this event for the footwear industry?
Ricardo Guerra: Well, for me is the most important congress in the world. This is a technical congress and many people think that it is better to go to see the machines and other people and to do branding and marketing. But most important, to me, is knowledge and this is the congress for knowledge and technology and technicians, and technical learning in the footwear industry. So, I think that we need to attract more people who work in the shoe industry and say to them this is the congress they need to attend. I hope that in 2025 in Shanghai we are going to have a happy and successful congress and I hope that people attend it.

World Footwear: I suppose my final question is about the theme of this congress. It's all about technology and innovation obviously and how that can help us to be more sustainable. What's your view on that? Is technology and innovation a key part of this path of the footwear industry to be more sustainable? Is that your view?
Ricardo Guerra: Yes. Yes, it was planned like this. And I think that this is the future. We need to think about digital transformation in a sustainable sense. So, environmental and economic circular economy is the future for all industries. I am sure that you listened to this morning’s first conference when it was said that we need to keep in mind that sustainability needs to come first and then profit of technology and all the new technological age.

World Footwear: Thank you, Ricardo, for this conversation. These were the latest news from the footwear industry in Mexico. Please follow the world footwear for more updates.

Note: This interview was conducted in Milan in September 2023 during the UITIC Congress

Check some of our previous interviews HERE