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Italy dominates top 15 brands in the global shoe sector, study says

by  Chiara Beghelli

Another billion women will enter the workforce during the next ten years. This is good news not only for equal opportunity, but also for shoe producers.

According to a report by Transparency Market Research, the “women's professional” will be the largest-growing category of footwear and will drive the sales of this sector up to $211.5 bn in 2018, especially in Asia-Pacific, Europe and US.

In order to define the strategies of the main brands with shoe production as their core business, the research group Fashionbi has published the “Premium Shoes Market” report, which includes the top 15 of the brands in terms of income, retail, and web reputation.

Eight brands out of the top 15 are Italian. And an Italian brand dominates the list, Salvatore Ferragamo, occupying the first position for both income and number of stores.

Salvatore Ferragamo counts 470 stores, while the second brand on the list, Manolo Blahnik, has 289 stores (200 only in the US) and the third one, Bally, has just 159.

“But a broad retail network does not guarantee an expansion of the clientele,” says Ambika Zutshi, MD of Fashionbi. “The opening of a new store requires a strong commitment and before entering a new market an accurate research is necessary: the brand must get to know the buying power of new customers, what they talk about on the Internet, and their competitors' strategies.”

The massive presence of stores in Asia and Middle East (640 stores), Europe (548) and North America (431) highlights the lack of them in Africa and Oceania.

Once again, Ferragamo makes the difference with its 19 stores, while Manolo Blahnik is the only brand with a store in Africa.

The analyst explains: “Very few brands take the risk to open a boutique without a forecast about the return on investment. Nonetheless, the brands are constantly investing in these markets, testing the waters through e-commerce.”

Brand extension is also giving good results: once again Ferragamo is the one with the most extended range of side products, from perfumes to watches.

So far, Christian Louboutin is the only shoemaker which has launched a beauty line.

And if nowadays the income comes mostly from womenswear collections, the next “gold mines” will be kids and men collections.

Ten brands out of 15 have a mens’ collection, and only 4 have a kids' one. Only Ferragamo and Tod's have both.

“Kidswear is not at its best, yet. There is a lack of experts in the field and many brands tend to underestimate the fact that today kids are aware costumers and also very listened to by their parents,” Zutshi says.

“As far as mens’ clothing goes, there is still not much choice and it is scarcely promoted. Men care more than women about quality, and they value quality more than quantity. So maybe a man will buy just one pair of shoes in a year, but he will spend more money to have a long-lasting product.”

Another winning strategy is betting on celebrities, most of all if the collaboration gives rise to a capsule collection.

“Brands are becoming real experts in choosing local influencers, like Gucci did with Yang Yang and Burberry with Liu Wen in China,” the analyst says. “And posts with celebrities are the most followed on brands' accounts. Moreover, we must not forget that every and each new follower, captivated with the right content, could become ambassador and faithful client of the brand.”