It is said that statistics are almighty and never lie. And the footwear market is so interesting and changing that not examining it would be the greatest sin! Asking why? Footwear is not just trends and fashion. It is convenience, comfort, and a way of life. Everyone wants to take a confident and firm step, but it can only be like that with good and high-quality footwear. People’s increasing desire and need to wear not only stylish but also comfortable footwear created by a reliable business is encouraging us to talk about it and to introduce you to the European love for shoes!

Leather soles and footwear leather

But now- the numbers!

After putting on your new, leather-scented shoes, do you ever think about how long it took to make them? Or who made them? Yeah Yeah, I hear you saying, “who else made them, if not the Chinese!” And you’re almost right because according to 2015 data, 6 out of 10 pairs of shoes in the world were made in China. But when buying an unnecessary, but very pretty pair of shoes, do you ever wonder how many shoes each person has statistically? According to the North American and European average, every woman statistically has 21 pairs of shoes and every man has 12. And only 3 of those pairs of shoes are worn constantly!

Not only the needs of consumers, which determine the direction in which the manufacturers will go, have enormous influence in the footwear market, but also the local traditions and history. It’s not without a reason that „Made in Italy” has positive associations. We know that if a product is made in Italy, it is and must be of high quality. But why is it that way? Italy was the land of medieval merchants and craftsmen. It influenced European fashion and formed the rules and traditions of the craftsmen workshops. The workshop system, which prevailed in Europe for centuries, has rooted in and left its traces to these days. Meanwhile, the United States and Asian market began to develop fastest during the industrial revolution, with the establishment of capitalism. Factories were opened, serving and meeting the needs of millions of people. These historical facts reveal the current market situation in the world. There are factories in the United States and in Asian countries, meanwhile, the European footwear industry consists of a large number of small companies employing an average of 10-15 employees and with an average turnover of just over 1 million euros. In Europe, there are mostly family businesses where the focus is on shoes. Families, working from generation to generation maintain their traditions and make sure that the materials and footwear are of impeccable quality.

From the TOP 5 exporting countries’ data provided below, you can notice the fact that Italy is the second largest leather footwear exporter and the third largest footwear exporter in the world. What does that mean? While exporting a total of 10.7 billion USD worth of footwear, only 3.1 billion USD worth of footwear in Italy was made not out of leather. Meanwhile, giant China exported 38.7 billion USD worth of footwear made not out of leather. This data reaffirms the fact that the processing and the high quality of Italian leather aren’t made up.

The TOP 5 footwear exporting countries (2016 data)

1. China: $47.8 billion USD

2. Vietnam: $17.9 billion USD

3. Italy: $10.7 billion USD

4. Germany: $6 billion USD

5. Belgium: $6 billion USD 

The TOP 5 countries manufacturing leather footwear (2016 m. data)

1.China: $9.1 billion USD

2. Italy: $7.6 billion USD

3. Vietnam: $5.9 billion USD

4. Germany: $2.6 billion USD

5. Indonesia: $2.3 billion USD  

Leather footwear


The mass footwear industry is growing rapidly. This is due to the changing trends in fashion and the improving economic conditions. The wide variety of footwear and the easy availability of products in retail channels encourage the consumers’ impulsive purchase. The popularity of sports footwear and nature-friendly footwear has increased significantly during the past year. This is due to the huge leather, glue, plastic, and rubber usage, and the promotion of an ecological life. People’s health trends have increased the purchase of sports footwear, which is taking over the world and people’s hearts. More and more people are choosing sports shoes, particularly women.

Geographically, North America is the leading source of revenue for the global footwear market. The high number of sales channels and the growing importance of online retailing are driving the development of this regional market. In North American countries, as in Asian countries, mass factory production is predominant, while in Europe, it is more specialized.

The fastest growing market is Asia because of the rising high fashion trends, the rising middle-class incomes, and the rising amounts of money spent on clothing and accessories. The European market remains stable. Two-thirds of all footwear production in the European Union is concentrated in three countries: Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Italy is responsible for about 50% of footwear production in Europe.
The European footwear industry consists of many small businesses located in regions. According to the European Union data, many European companies have moved to narrower segments and niches, such as high-end footwear, children's shoes, and special-purpose footwear. Due to their quality, design, and style, European footwear products are very popular both in the European Union and in other markets in the world.


- The global footwear annual revenue in 2015 is estimated at 52.2 billion pounds sterling (NSRA, 2016)

- In 2020 the global footwear market should have reached 371.8 billion USD (GIA, 2015)

- In 2015, the total global footwear production count was estimated at 23 billion pairs of shoes (APICCAPS, 2015 m.)

- Undoubtedly, the world leader in footwear production in 2015 is China, which produced 12,600 million pairs of shoes (statistics, 2016)

- 6 out of 10 shoes in the world are produced in China (, 2015).


Chinese footwear factory


- Footwear production in the EU in 2014 was estimated at 17,4 billion euros, compared to 14,1 billion euros in 2010 (, 2015)

- The main footwear manufacturer in Europe is Italy, which produces 50% of all shoes in the European Union. Other important footwear manufacturers in the EU are Spain (12%), Portugal (12%), and Romania (8.2%) (2015 –

- EU footwear usage was estimated at 23,5 billion euros in 2014 (, 2015)

- 52% of footwear sold in the EU was made out of leather (, 2015)

- The biggest EU footwear market is in Germany, which is the main importer. It made up 19% of all imports. France made up 14%, the UK made up 13%, and Italy made up 12% (, 2015)

- Intra-EU footwear trade in 2014: Italy was the main footwear exporter in the EU (, 2015 m.).

- EU footwear exports to non-EU countries in 2014: the US was the main EU footwear importer (1,4 million euros), then Switzerland (1.2 million euros), and Russia (1,1 million euros) (, 2015). 

Italian footwear factory


- The annual US consumer footwear expenditure is 29,8 billion USD (NSRA, 2016)

- The „U.S Footwear“ usage expenditure increased by 2.1% in 2015, including inflation (fbicgroup, 2016)

- The largest sports shoes manufacturer in the US in 2015 was „Nike Inc.“ and its proprietary product “Jordan”. They made up 62% of all sports shoes sold in the US (2015 – WSJ). 

Historical footwear factory and footwear produced in the US

Facts about the shoe market and its trends in the world

Sports shoes
Women 41%
Men 44%
Women 41%
Men 19%
Everyday footwear
Women 40%
Men 34%
Formal footwear
Women 32%
Men 23%
Women 22%
Men 15%
Winter footwear
Women 16%
Men 11%

Why do people buy footwear?
…because they want to replace old shoes 60%
…because the shoes were on sale 41%
…because they want to renew their closet 30%
…because they bought them impulsively 26%
…because they are going to a celebration 24%
…because the season is changing 22%
…because they want them to match their new outfit 21%
…because they are going on vacation 20%

Did you know that...?
300 million children and 1.5 million adults have no footwear
Women’s sandals are the most bought shoe model in the world
70% of men bought sports shoes in 2016

People, who have the most shoes in the world
6 thousand Writer Danielle Steel
3,4 thousand Imelda Marcos
3 thousand Celine Dion

The most expensive shoes in the world
3 million Harry Winston’s ruby slippers
3 million Rita Hayworth heels
2 million Cinderella slippers


The most expensive shoes in the world

And for the end… Never forget that Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change your life!

We invite you to visit the Italian and Spanish footwear design stores DOLITA

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