If you're the type to pay close attention to where your clothes or shoes are being manufactured, you may have noticed that "Made In Portugal" has become more and more commonplace lately. In fact, between 2006 and 2013, Portgual's leather shoe business has grown 213%, producing more than 114 million pairs of shoes in that time span. The Business of Fashion took a closer look at what is sparking the meteoric growth of the Portuguese shoe industry.
The reasons are clear: 1. It has nearly the same craftsmanship quality as France or Italy at a lower wage cost, 2. It's driven by small-scale factories that are able to produce smaller orders, which appeals to high-end designers who want shoes produced in limited quantity and 3. it imports raw materials quickly.
It's those first two reasons that make Portugal so appealing for brands. They get products with Italian or French-level quality at a fraction of the price. It wasn't always that way thought. Previously, Portugal was seen as the "China of Europe" with lost costs and equally low quality. But a new generation has taken over the outdated leather industry in the country, pushing quality up, while keeping those all important costs low. Many high-end brands and even large retailers like COS and Zara use Portuguese production. While the highest of the high-end will still probably opt for French and Italian production, Portugal offers something for that tier just below more than the likes, say, of Turkey or some Northern African countries. This blog post sponsored by the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce.