Regardless of how many shoes you buy per year or where you go to buy them, many people are not aware of how harmful the global shoe industry actually is. You may even be surprised to find that the large share of shoes bought and worn in America are not actually made in America.
Sometimes there is no better feeling than getting a new pair of shoes. Shoe shopping is often a great experience as it brings back nostalgic memories brought on from childhood where getting a new pair of shoes could even go as far as making you feel like a lightning fast superhero or the new Michael Jordan. Those sure were the days! But even as adults we still enjoy the little things like getting a new pair of shoes. Getting a new pair of shoes is often a celebratory occasion, such as getting a raise or a new promotion at work, hitting a weight loss goal, or even as a pick me up at the end of a long day or simply just because. Whatever the situation may be, there is always a good reason to buy a new pair of shoes.
It is pretty safe to say that having a decent pair of shoes will always be a necessity not just for the everyday life of the average American but for people worldwide. Recent data collected in 2017 shows that in the USA alone, consumers spent over 74 billion dollars in the footwear industry, buying roughly 2.5 billion pairs of shoes nationwide. Furthermore, on a global wide scale, the average consumer bought 2½ pairs of shoes per person in 2017--compared to the average American who bought 7½ pairs of shoes per person during the same amount of time.
With that many pairs of shoes being bought and sold globally every year, it is no wonder that many of us have been shoe shopping for the majority of our lives. However, shoe shopping today might look a little different. With the Coronavirus pandemic still in full swing, a lot of shoppers and stores have transitioned to shopping online, though that's not to say that online shopping hadn’t already been growing in popularity since before the pandemic started. What many shoppers may not know, however, is that shopping for shoes often comes with a hidden price aside from the one displayed on the tag.
Regardless of how many shoes you buy per year or where you go to buy them, many people are not aware of how harmful the global shoe industry actually is. You may even be surprised to find that the large share of shoes bought and worn in America are not actually made in America. According to NPR, since 1990, over 80% of U.S. shoe manufacturing jobs have disappeared. And though recent estimates range, over 95 percent to 99 percent of the shoes worn in America are imported from other countries like China, India, and Vietnam. China, for instance, imports around 60-75% of the shoes bought in America.
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why it is estimated that less than 200 full- fledged American made shoe manufacturers still exist, with the majority of those being contracted to make shoes for the government and military. And for those few manufacturers who do remain in America and do not work with the government or military, such as our very own COMUNITYmade, it is often the love of the craft and the skill that keeps them in America despite the higher cost.
However, many shoe brands turn overseas to cut costs and increase profits. They state that the idea of creating these products in America is too infeasible to imagine--the cost of having to employ a skilled worker, especially one that is becoming increasingly harder to find, would simply be too high. Why spend say $30 in America making a shoe when you can send it overseas to another country where it only costs $3? Many are only interested in cheap labor, not quality products.
While shoes made in other countries like China may initially be cheaper because the manufacturer was able to produce them at a cheaper cost, there is often another side to the story. Many of these foreign, imported products are made in countries for pennies on the dollar because there is little to no regulation in the labor industry. The majority of the people who work in these factories get paid minimal wages that often do not even allow them to get out of poverty, despite working 12-14 hours a day. There are often no laws or regulation against child labor. Not to mention the awful work conditions they are forced to be in, as harmful chemicals are often used in the mass manufacturing of shoes overseas.
Part of the problem with online shopping is that while it may be convenient and a lot of times cheaper, it is also a lot easier to disconnect from the product that we are purchasing. The same can be said for the quick supermarket purchase, but that hard earned dollar you just spent will most likely be wasted as those quickly and cheaply made pair of shoes will begin to fall apart in a matter of months as well. At first, it is hard to understand why some American made products are a bit more expensive, but once you see that quality is much better over quantity, you can begin to see the future payout.
Products created overseas are often made by less skilled, underpaid workers, with cheap materials. This leads to things falling apart quickly and it only helps to support a broken industry. It is our mission at COMUNITYmade to bring back American manufacturing, one shoe at a time as we hand craft each and every one personally. We employ only the best and local skilled artisans with years in the handmade shoe industry. We manufacture all our shoes in downtown Los Angeles, California, and craft many of them in our space that is also our showroom, retail and event space. Plus, we only use the best high quality material available, so you can rest assured that your hand made pair of shoes will last many years to come. Please visit our amazing selection of both men and women’s preselected styles on our website or go through the process of designing your very own!
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