Inside the Factories
The counterfeit shoe industry is a pillar of Putian’s economy, employing 200,000 workers and generating business estimated at up to 200 million yuan (US$31.9 million) per day. 3 out of 10 pairs of athletic shoes sold in the world are fakes!
A Chinese shoemaker says that every three out of ten pairs of athletic shoes sold in the world are fakes made in the southern city of Putian, reports the Guangzhou-based 21st Century Business Review.
The shoemaking business emerged in the city in Fujian province in the 1980s owing to the availability of cheap land and labor there, drawing a large number of shoemakers previously based in Taiwan.
Most of the factories are manufacturing shoes for prestigious brands, such as Nike and Adidas. There are so many shoemakers in Putian that it has been nicknamed shoe city.
Once locals had worked in these factories long enough, they opened their own workshops to make shoes, often imitating designs of well-known brands. They would ask their former colleagues working at the brand-name factories to smuggle out copies of the latest designs for them. There are also some truly skilled workers who can imitate a shoe just by seeing it in an advertisement.
Pan Da, an owner of such a workshop, told the 21st Century Business Review that his 50 workers could deliver a shipment of shoes merely four days after receiving orders. He added that his fake sneakers were top quality and were much sought after in the market. Pan’s fake Nike shoes were sold in some genuine shoe outlets because they were cheap and looked authentic, the magazine reports.
A pair of top-quality Nike sneakers would be priced at more than 1,000 yuan (US$160), but the fakes cost only 150 yuan (US$23), said Pan.
Nike’s policy of supplying the Chinese market with only a tenth of what it supplies the US market has help contribute to the market for fake shoes, as Nike’s mainland stores would rather turn to producers like Pan to meet demand and generate more profit.
The counterfeit shoe industry is a pillar of Putian’s economy, employing 200,000 workers and generating business estimated at up to 200 million yuan (US$31.9 million) per day. Nearly 40% of the city’s buildings were owned or rented by shoemaking businesses, said the newspaper.
Jinjiang, also located in Fujian province, has followed in Putian’s footsteps and is now home to 12 listed domestic sportswear companies, with 26 more preparing to go public.
The city has worked since the 1990s to develop domestic-branded sportswear, and is home to brands like Anta who produce Fila shoes in China, Xtep, which makes soccer apparel, and 361 Degrees who made the national teams’ shoes for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.
What seperates the two cities is the amount of innovation, where Putian preferred to be a follower by imitating the designs of name brands while Jinjiang produced domestic ones, said the 21st Century Business Review.