Shoe industry as a whole is progressing very fast. Our neighboring countries are running so fast that we could not compete with them. Our traditional shoe industry is trying to change their pattern of working as per the demand & fashion trend of the leather/footwear world. Innocently we are just following western advice and procuring high priced footwear machineries and following the technology showing by the European experts. Because we cannot think ourselves with our own resources but we can follow rather you can say copy the west. Technocrat’s person’s advice is being ignored and administrative bosses are running our country. It is true that the IAS, PCS & concerned ministers are visiting off & on to the foreign countries for the development of the footwear industry but failed to raise our export participation in the global market in shoe making from 2%. In comparison China is exporting 60% of the global supply of shoes. Since it is a peculiar industry in nature only technocrats of this trade can improve the present position of footwear industries of India.

Our footwear making is based on cottage and tiny industry. Inheriting skilled worker is there to make a good quality shoe. “Shoe Leather Sole” during 60’s and early 70’s decade were the only shoes made in India by hand by the skilled worker. In 2009 we have to search a pair of leather sole shoe in the market. Because we have tried to transfer our shoe industry from hand made sector towards mechanization. The mechanization of shoe industry snatched the “livelihood” of lakhs of poor illiterate artisans.

Modernizations is a must to accept the global challenge & I am not opposing that but we could have done in a very disciplined manner that keeps our old traditional hand made shoe industry unharmed.And also at the same time upgrading their present standard of shoe making. For your kind information our conventional hand made leather shoes are well accepted by the developed world. Unfortunately instead of encouraging & helping these traditional artisans our policy maker’s wrong policy have more or less wiped out the hand made leather shoe making from the country. Now you can count in your finger tips the few hand made shoe factories existed in India. In Agra it will be not more than 10. Shoe with leather sole (Good Year Welted shoe) is the most valued shoe at present made in India. Kindly keep these skilled poor artisans alive who are valuable for the country.


Please see what is going on in Europe. Due to the various health hazard in modern shoe making with synthetic soles & the available of cheap labour in Asian country, most of the shoe factories in Europe & America are closing down their factories there and chooses to buy the same from the third world. But surprisingly hand made shoe making is still continuing in Europe & America. It is a general philosophy in India that only poor people repair their old shoes but in Europe hand made leather shoes is being produced and repaired. If a man living in UK can repair his shoes and reuse the same why not we the poor Indian can use the repaired shoe. It requires to change the mentality.

These hand made shoe making and repairing work can save /create lots of employment in our country. One factory is there in Europe which are producing 4000 pairs of hand made shoes every week. This factory was established in 1873 & is still running successfully. They have 3 more manufacturing unit in the UK only and arrange to sell their product through their own retail outlet. Their first overseas retail out let was opened in New York in1929.Subsequently they opened showroom in Belgium in 1963 & in 1964 in Canada.

One of the important facet of their business is the repair and refurbishment section. Each year customers throughout the world send their shoes to this factory for repair and rebuilding. More than 18000 pairs of shoes have already been repaired by them. It is interesting to learn that the factory accepts shoes which may be up to 40 years old. They stripped of their soles, heels, welts, stitching & cork infill before being put to their original last on which it was made and to be rebuilt with lengthy process. Insole, heel lining, tassel & laces are also replaced if necessary. After making all alteration it is finished & boxed as new and returned to the customer. They are repairing as much as 300-500 pairs of shoe per week. One of the major plus point in this shoe is that it is 100% ecofriendly shoe. Vegetable tanned sole leather is used as a soling material and no adhesive is being used, sole is being attached by stitching and leathers are made with AZO free dyes.


In India there is a huge potentiality to grow these types of shoe industries. Not only it will generate employment and uplift the poverty level of poor artisan but also earn a sizeable amount of foreign currency. When an average pair of shoes made with TPR/PU sole is sold between US $ 10 – 14. Where as a pair “Good Year Welted” shoe will fetch a price of US $ 40 per pair. Beside these there is a tremendous demand for ‘hand made’ Indian shoe in the world. There are few countries in the world who are expert in making hand made shoes. Unfortunately till date we have not ventured to develop that market. It is true that in the large scale production and in a competitive price we cannot compete with China but in hand made shoe I firmly believe China will never be able to compete with us.


Article By: S.N.GANGULY, Director,Central Footwear Training Institute, Agra


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