Vietnam’s popularity as a hub for footwear production and export has boomed exponentially in the past few years, and it is now #2 only to China as the top footwear exporter in the world. Vietnam’s recent ascent to near-dominance of the footwear export sector is due to a confluence of countless fortuitous factors, but a few of the most notable ones include:
Strong Existing Footwear Infrastructure
Years ago, many of the largest players in the footwear sector, like Nike, Adidas, and Puma, began establishing their production facilities in Vietnam because of rising labour costs in China, their previous hub. They poured huge sums of money into developing Vietnam’s footwear industry infrastructure and training many of its citizens in how to make quality shoes.
The booming footwear infrastructure these “big players” established has since left the walls of their proprietary factories are trickled into the industrial fabric of Vietnam. The country’s unusually high numbers of professionals well-versed in the industrial side of footwear creation and its easy access to state-of-the-art footwear-making tech makes it an ideal spot to make shoes.
An Ideal Balance of Handmade Quality And Cutting Edge Technology
Technological solutions have revolutionised the footwear industry in countless ways, most of them for the better. Most of those ways have to do with time saved, which in turn contributes to lowered production costs. But some locations, especially those like China with quickly rising labour costs, cannot afford properly trained technicians who use the machines to their full potential. This not only increases the turnaround time for factories in those locations, but also leaves out the precision engineering advanced machinery contributes to footwear manufacturing.
Because of low labour costs in Vietnam, the country’s production facilities can employ plenty of engineers to take advantage of the latest footwear production technology, cutting down on turnaround time and bolstering quality. But those same affordable labour costs also allow them to employ a large number of craftspeople who give the footwear produced there that human touch.
A More Efficient Work Culture
The Vietnamese education system does an excellent job of teaching conformity and working together towards a greater goal. Being able to follow orders to a tee is a highly prized quality in the Vietnamese workforce, undoubtedly due in part to the culture’s adherence to the tenets of Confucianism. Vietnamese factory workers tend to be more attentive to the job than their counterparts from elsewhere around the world, and the result is a much more efficient and valuable workforce.
A More Localised Workforce
A major difference between the geographical footwear landscape of Vietnam compared to certain other East Asian footwear production hubs (China comes to mind) is that, while their industrial parks tend to be located hundreds of miles from the employees’ actual homes, Vietnamese footwear factories are among residential areas. Close proximity between home and work means a few things. First of all, the workers will get to live at home with their families all year round, which will naturally increase quality of life for them. Secondly, it will negate something which becomes a major problem around holidays when the workplace is far away: workers leaving their posts for extended periods of time to spend it at home and sometimes not returning to their positions at the factory at all.
A more localised workforce equates to a more dependable workforce, plain and simple.
Wide-Reaching Trade Cuts
In recent years, the Vietnamese government has promoted trade between the Southeast Asian nation and consumer-heavy countries around the world. The main way it has done so is by establishing trade deals that decrease export taxes. Two excellent examples of this are the EVFTA and the TPP11.
The EVFTA is a trade deal that was finalised in 2015 and which decreases costs for members of the EU looking to import Vietnamese-produced goods.
The TPP11 similarly lifts trade barriers between Vietnam and 10 other Pacific Coastal nations. The US was initially going to sign on as part of the TPP, but it backed out of the deal before the partnership was ratified.
Vietnam’s ability to cheaply export its goods to so many wealthy nations is just another reason why it is becoming a mainstay for brands looking to set up efficient footwear production overseas.
A strong footwear infrastructure, economical hand-craftsmanship, an efficient workforce, and opportune trade deals all contribute to making Vietnam an ideal place to produce footwear. Innolux channels that production power in its own company-run factories and combines it with a huge amount of footwear development expertise. We employ industry professionals from all over the world who, together, are versed in every step of the footwear creation process, from design to sourcing to equipment use to branding. Together with our clients, we intend to make Vietnam the go-to location for footwear brands establishing development and production channels.