Footwear sector: export growth and new geographies for Italian companies

The increase in exports of the Italian footwear sector continues, marking +16.1% in value in 2022 over 2021.

According to analysis by the Centro Studi Confindustria Moda for Assocalzaturifici, Italy is in fact the world’s third largest exporter in terms of value, accounting for 8 percent of the total, preceded by China (28.2 percent) and Vietnam (17.6 percent), and the eighth largest exporter in terms of volume. This is also due to its positioning in the market, which sees Italy as the leading producer of high-end footwear: the average price of Italian exports ($60.43 per pair of shoes) is the highest in the world, ahead of that of French shoes ($36.44 per pair) and more than twelve times higher than that of Chinese shoes ($4.79 per pair).

Among the main outlet markets for the Italian footwear sector, European countries are reconfirmed first and foremost, followed by China and the United States, but they leave room for growth for new destinations.

During the last edition of MICAM 2023, in September, many foreign buyers attended the fair: among the main countries were Spain, France and Germany; while on the non-EU front there was the great return of China and confirmations from Japan but also countries whose delegations are growing year by year such as South Africa.

The role of Japan for the Italian footwear sector

For years now, the Japanese market has been one of the most interesting destinations for Italy. Japan is known to appreciate high quality products and craftsmanship and at the same time has a high spending capacity. Also strong are the trade agreements between the two countries that encourage exchange.

In fact, the Land of the Rising Sun was also chosen by Roncucci&Partners as a market of interest for the expansion project in the Asian market of the company NeroGiardini, a leading brand in the Italian supply chain with men’s, women’s and children’s collections.

New export geographies: South Africa

In terms of new export opportunities for the footwear sector, the South African market represents a very dynamic and active segment that companies are looking at with strong interest. Many South Africans adopt a Western lifestyle, and the Italian footwear sector is known for its quality and craftsmanship.

According to data from ICE – Agency for the promotion abroad and internationalization of Italian companies, Italy is confirmed as an important trade partner for South Africa, tenth in the overall ranking. In particular, in the footwear sector, Italy is the fifth largest exporting country to South Africa, preceded only by China, Vietnam, Indonesia and India.

During 2022, Italian footwear exports to South Africa grew in value, reaching US$39 million, up from US$37 million in 2021.

Exporting to new geographies, for footwear companies looking to get involved and discover new markets, can be a rewarding opportunity but requires structured planning and careful risk assessment. Working with international trade experts and professionals who know the target market can be successful in the export process.


Chiara Origlia


At Roncucci&Partners we help companies develop themselves and their business, embrace change and evolve to thrive in a world that is increasingly complicated, insidious and requires great expertise. We do this by applying punctual methods and rigorous strategies, the result of many years of experience and the richness of the numerous success stories we have conducted all over the world. Passion and method are indeed our guides to enhance the present and build the future.

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