The footwear industry in Europe is a traditional manufacturing industry that produces a high-added value consumer product, part of the Creative Industries and European Culture and Heritage. In 2016, the industry included 20.300 companies employing approximately 290,000 people. Europe represents the second world’s consumer market (after China), and has the highest average export price.
Driven by creativity and innovation, footwear products manufactured in EU can be considered as scientifically-led technical items with distinct high quality, which exports to non-EU countries have increased by 40% in quantity and 90% in value from 2009 till 2016. In order to maintain this key advantage, the EU industry has to keep investing on technological and non-technological innovation,and promote high-added value
In an era where consumers are driving industries, the EU footwear points towards consumer’s well being and sustainability concerns as a competitive advantage to satisfy their demands. Increased health-consciousness and social awareness have to be incorporated in product development. The entire product life-cycle is reconsidered in terms of performance and functionality, which is commonly perceived as footwear comfort. Longer life expectancy require special attention for preventing and alleviating body damage. In addition, retailing practices and consumer behavior are shifting towards sustainability. Moreover, consumers increasingly demand personalized and differentiated shoes, which open opportunities for more creativity while ensuring that comfort and sustainability’ concerns are satisfied. New sustainable materials, eco-design and marketing models are powerful tools to increase product differentiation. It is therefore a priority to equip designers with creative and innovative skills and a deeper understanding of the mechanics that determine footwear comfort and sustainability.