As is happening across the entire fashion sector in Brazil, the footwear industry is presenting a growth in production, driven especially by the domestic market. In this article, we will take a look at the footwear industry in Brazil.
Brazilian footwear production originated in the 1820s in the Southern and Southeastern states of Brazil, with German and Italian immigrants coming to Brazil and bringing with them their culture of leather craftsmanship. But it was not until the late 1800s that a consumer market for shoes was really created, when the first tanneries and machinery manufacturing businesses started to appear, thus enabling the manufacturing process to become more industrialized.
The first shoe factory in Brazil was opened in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in 1888. The consumers demand for shoes from that state grew annually, eventually leading to the formation of what is currently one of the largest industrial clusters in the footwear industry in the world.
Between the 1920s and the 1960s, the footwear industry in Brazil stagnated its production. Despite this, in the 1960s, shoe sales were dramatically expanded by exports to overseas markets, with the first large-scale Brazilian export sales involving shipments to the United States. Brazilian domestic production during this decade was around 80 million pairs of shoes per year.
It was also after the 1960s that the region of Vale dos Sinos in the Rio Grande do Sul state started concentrating on the production of women shoes, while the region of Franca in the state of São Paulo started concentrating on the production of mens footwear. Both regions benefited from a large supply of raw leather.
Market size for footwear in Brazil
Brazil has, as of 2014, the third largest footwear industry in the world, trailing behind China and India. Even though its production was impacted by the Chinese industry and changes in the United Statesmarket, Brazil is still the most important footwear producer outside of Asia. It is responsible for 4,6% of the worlds production, which amounted to production of nearly 900 million pairs in 2013. For the sake of comparison, China produced 13 billion pairs and India produced 1,2 billion. Brazil’s footwear industry solid base is maintained by:
- Its world renowned reputation, especially relating to the high quality and relatively cheap leather
- Price of Asian footwear is gradually rising
- Expansion of Brazilian footwear market to new countries
In 2013, the entire Brazilian footwear industry accounted for BRL 26,8 billion, a growth of more than 10% when compared to 2012. Its national production is divided as follows:
- Slippers and sandals - 56,5%
- Synthetic fibres - 15,2%
- Leather footwear - 12,6%
- Sport shoes - 8,5%
- Shoes made of other materials - 7,2%
Analyzing the Brazilian footwear production in 2013 by gender, women footwear accounted for 57,1% of the total production, whilst men footwear accounted for 21,8% and baby footwear for 21,1%.
The Brazilian footwear industry consists of more than 600 companies, responsible for directly employing over 350.000 people.
Main footwear producing areas
The largest footwear clusters are located in the following states:
- Rio Grande do Sul
- Santa Catarina
- São Paulo
- Minas Gerais
The largest producer of shoes is in the Northeastern region of the country, where the production of slippers and sandals is concentrated. This region also accounts for 71% of Brazilian footwear intended for exports. Other key clusters of footwear production in Brazil are the region of Vale dos Sinos in the Rio Grande do Sul state and the region of Franca in the state of São Paulo.
Import and Export of footwear
Brazilian footwear is highly sought after worldwide, as a result of the low prices, high quality and unique design. Because of this, Brazilian footwear is exported to more than 150 countries, generating around USD 1,1 billion of sales in 2013, a growth of 8,5% in number of pairs when compared to 2012, despite not having a significant growth in revenue. The United States, Argentina and France are the top destinations for Brazilian footwear exports. Imports of footwear to Brazil accounted for USD 572 million and the main exporters of footwear to Brazil are Vietnam, Indonesia and Italy. Imports of Chinese footwear fell, as a result of Brazil’s anti dumping measures.
Brazilian exports of footwear are aided by the Brazilian Footwear program. It is an initiative by the Brazilian Association of Footwear Industries (Abicalçados) in partnership with the Brazilian Agency for Promotion of Exports and Investments (Apex-Brasil) created for exporting Brazilian footwear to new markets and promoting them. The Brazilian Footwear program was created in October 2000 and its main target markets are:
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
- United States of America