January 25, 2018
“There isn’t a shoe that can’t be made in Mexico,” said Jack Guze, owner and president of Creative Brand Solutions.
From men’s dress and athleisure, to sophisticated women’s casuals, footwear factories from Mexico shared their finest examples of craftsmanship and design at the recent FFANY’s New York Shoe Expo.
The lion’s share of Mexico’s footwear business is done with other Mexico-based companies, however, Guze says the Mexican government would like to see that change and is encouraging footwear companies to explore exports to the U.S. In turn, the Mexican footwear sector will be able to create more jobs.
“The footwear industry in Mexico is very developed, but they sell a very high percentage of production internally in Mexico,” Guze said. “Because they sell so much in their own country, they don’t have a big incentive to export to the U.S.”
Guze and his team at Creative Brand Solutions, a strategic brand and marketing consultancy, have been charged with the task of introducing Mexican factories to the U.S. market, and sharing the advantages of what brands like Wolverine, Steve Madden, Caterpillar and Frye already know.
No duty and low minimums are major wins for U.S. brands when it comes to Mexican-made shoes, and at a time when brands are competing with fast fashion, Guze said companies can’t afford to overlook Mexico’s ability to turn product around quickly.
“For Americans, the first thing is speed to market. You can ship shoes on a truck and have it in Los Angeles in two days, New York in a week. That’s a major advantage,” he said. “Everyone nowadays is looking at how Zara does it, but that company has been doing this for [decades]. Only now have people woken up.”
Mexico also has a creative heart that reveals itself in its footwear designs. “They design things and interpret them—that’s not true in China or India. In Mexico, you can look at a shoe and say, ‘Wow, this is great.’ In China, you have to give factories the shoe you want to make,” Guze said.
Participating factories in the Mexican collective include: Antonio Garcia, Bambino, Brantano, Cream Soda, Eescord, Elefante Rojo, Gosh, Liberty Black, Lobo Solo and Lyard.
Guze toured each factory and said he is working with designers to help “Americanize” their styles.
“A lot of these companies could be a brand in the U.S. tomorrow. The next steps are developing an infrastructure here, so customers can place orders and do business,” he said.
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Looking to gain knowledge and skills in the world of shoemaking? FFANY is proud to partner with the experts at Arsutoria School to bring the 5-day course “The Art of Shoemaking” to Los Angeles from March 12-16. A big thank you to the Two Ten Footwear Foundation, who is offering a full scholarship ($2,500 value) to footwear industry employees looking to advance their careers through education – learn more.