World Footwear

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Vito Artioli live on World Footwear

Nov 4, 2014 Italy
Vito Artioli live on World Footwear
As we prepare for the World Footwear Congress in León we spoke to Mr Vito Artioli, Chairman of the latest edition of the congress, held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in 2011
With an immense curriculum in the footwear industry, namely with passages through the Italian Footwear Association and the European Confederation of the Footwear Industry, Vito Artioli is the Chairman of top tailor-made shoes business (Artioli shoes). In the preparation to the World Footwear Congress in Léon, we spoke with Mr Artioli to hear his views on the current state of the industry and main challenges and opportunities for the sector in the near future.

In your view what's the balance of the footwear sector’s performance in recent years, especially with the impact of the global economic and financial crisis?

The footwear manufacturing sector of the Western world has deeply suffered the consequences of the international financial crisis, resulting on a substantial reduction of internal consumption and the preference for products less expensive coming from the Far East. The import of such shoes into Europe had even been facilitated thanks to the entry of China in the WTO. The only way to progress for European companies has been their internationalisation through exports.

What will be the main challenges for the sector during the next few years? What priorities should be elected by the footwear companies?

The shoes produced in countries with longer manufacturing tradition needs to increase their competitiveness through on one side a constant progress in new technologies, and on the other through a continuous improvement of the product, both from a qualitative and a creativity point of views, always looking for beauty and distinction.

The instability between Russia and Ukraine is causing worries all over the world. How can this situation impact the footwear industry? What are your main worries?
Certainly the war between Russia and Ukraine, started with the Russian occupation of Crimea, that caused sanctions from EU and Russian counter-sanctions, has provoked a drastic reduction of European shoe imports from Russia, Ukraine and CSI countries. Western companies have consequently suffered a significant fall of sales. I  really wish that the Russian-Ukraine disagreement is solved as soon as possible, because the exports to these countries are not easily replaceable by a European market that is very slowly recovering from the crisis.

There is a lot buzz about luxury products and the potential that surrounds them as a result of a growing middle class, especially in Asia. How do you see this potential and how can the industry specialized in luxury footwear explore such new opportunities?
The recent policy of the Chinese government aims at strengthening the middle class by moving tens of millions of Chinese, living in a rural and even primitive world, to the cities. Such transformation of life and work in an ultra modern urbanization will lead, in relatively short time, to enormous changes in consumption towards a product that will constitute an “economical –social status”, currently not so known by this new class of citizens, who will progressively grow. Footwear companies will therefore have to be ready for this new market, who will certainly also increase in other countries of the world even if at a smaller scale, and provide branded products, new and old brands, making sure that they are adequately distributed.

Tell us a bit about the main arguments to convince our readers to participate in the World Footwear Congress in November?
This increasing globalised world will continue suffering economic and social transformations never known in the past. The footwear entrepreneur cannot get along without thinking and confronting himself at international level with problems that he needs to consequently face in order to adapt his entrepreneurial strategies. Which better occasion to do it if not at the World Footwear Congress in Mexico, Leon, next 24th and 25th November?

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