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Vietnam Footwear Manufacturers: Quick Guide 2024

Vietnam footwear manufacturers count themselves as part of one of the biggest footwear manufacturing industries in the world. Trailing only India and China, this relatively small country exported footwear to the tune of US$19.94 billion in 2023, made for some of the most well-known footwear brands.

From sandals to running shoes and everything in between, Vietnam exports footwear to just about every corner of the planet. This has made the country somewhat expert in this field with a sizable workforce with experience in the sector. This, in turn, is seeing more firms drawn to making shoes in the country further perpetuating somewhat of a snowball effect.

As a result, Vietnam was the world’s second-biggest exporter of shoes in 2023 accounting for about ten percent of the world’s supply.

But foreign footwear brands considering manufacturing in Vietnam should keep in mind that doing business in this emerging economy (or any emerging economy for that matter) is not always easy. There are often challenges or obstacles that need to be overcome and key questions that should be asked to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements both in Vietnam and its export markets.

With this in mind, this article runs through key factors that foreign enterprises looking to manufacture footwear in Vietnam should be aware of.

Raw materials

Vietnam’s location in the southeast corner of mainland Southeast Asia puts it in a prime location for accessing raw materials. This section covers the availability and accessibility of said raw materials.

Rubber

Southeast Asia accounts for the bulk of the world’s rubber supply. The biggest producer in 2022 was Thailand, followed by Indonesia and then Vietnam, according to Statista data. This makes footwear manufacturing in Vietnam much easier with the core ingredient in most shoes readily available close by. What’s more all three of these countries are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. With a number of free trade agreements covering the bloc and its trading partners, moving rubber between these three countries is easier and cheaper than it might otherwise be.

Leather

Leather, unlike rubber, is not as common in Southeast Asia with countries like Italy, the US, and Brazil accounting for the bulk of the world’s leather exports. That said, Vietnamese footwear manufacturers have managed to secure relatively stable supply lines of leather in the region.

Locally China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand all supply leather to Vietnam and accounted for about US$4.24 billion of Vietnam leather imports out of a total of about US$5.58 billion in 2023.

That said, Vietnam footwear manufacturers also use imported leather from the US, Italy, and to a lesser, extent Brazil among a handful of other nations.

Textiles

With major cotton producers the US in the east and Australia to the south and the bulk of processing said cotton carried out in China to the north and India just a hop, skip, and a jump to the west, Vietnam is at the centre of the world’s textiles supply. This can be hugely beneficial to Vietnam’s footwear manufacturers when looking to access suppliers of yarn and fabrics (This applies to garment manufacturing too–for more information see: Vietnam Garment Manufacturing 2024: Quick Guide).

Intellectual property protection

Intellectual property protection can be an issue in Vietnam. Knock-off shoes can be found at local markets and small clothing stores all over the country. These are usually sold at a fraction of the cost (and are a fraction of the quality too). 

Notably, Vietnam is a signatory to most of the world’s biggest intellectual property agreements, including the Berne Convention on copyright, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Madrid Protocol, and the Paris Convention. However, numerous problems enforcing these agreements exist.

There have also been extensive efforts to crack down on the sale of fakes, however, it very much seems like when one counterfeit goods outfit is dismantled another quickly pops up to take its place. As a result, Vietnam basically has a permanent position on the US Trade Representative’s Special 301 Report watchlist which monitors intellectual property protections around the world.

All of that said, a lot of this is part and parcel with doing business in an emerging economy. With this in mind, the risk is not really much worse than in other parts of the world competing for shoe manufacturing business.

It’s also worth mentioning that local firms dealing with foreign brands tend to be mindful of how the misuse of intellectual property can damage their reputation and tend to steer clear.

ESG in footwear manufacturing in Vietnam

Environmental, social, governance, or ESG, has become an important component in manufacturing enterprises in many parts of the world. Whereas there is a general consensus that these issues need to be addressed in manufacturing, there are also regulations in key developed markets that force firms to build ESG into their supply chains.

Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive

From the beginning of 2024, EU regulations dictate that large firms and listed companies must produce ESG reports detailing the risks and challenges to their business of social and environmental issues. This is a part of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive or CSRD, which aims to ensure investors are better informed as to the impacts of their investments.

EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles

The EU has also developed the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles. This seeks to ensure that the consumption of textile products, like shoes, have a minimal impact on the environment.

Extended Producer Responsibility requirements are also part of the strategy. This essentially requires firms to build into the retail price of their items any social or environmental costs incurred anywhere in their supply chain. For example, the cost of pollutants produced from chemicals used to treat materials in Vietnam must be paid for by EU consumers.

Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act

The Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act prevents goods from China’s Xinjiang province from entering the United States. Of late, it has become common for goods produced in Xinjiang to first transit through Vietnam to the US. In fact, it was reported in January of 2024 that up to US$220 million worth of goods from Vietnam, across 1,197 shipments had been stopped from entering the US due to concerns these items were made in Xinjiang.

Exporting footwear from Vietnam

Existing Vietnam footwear manufacturers should be well-versed with the export requirements of the footwear they produce. These firms will likely be able to assist firms new to footwear manufacturing in Vietnam in completing the necessary export requirements. In this light, this section provides a short overview of exporting footwear from Vietnam

Key footwear export markets, 2023

DestinationValue US$
United States of America7,162,280,069
China1,867,617,325
Belgium1,208,059,556
Japan1,048,310,982
Netherlands1,003,878,460
Germany942,961,602
United Kingdom795,107,510
South Korea626,642,295
France518,967,262
Canada469,491,370

Key footwear exports, by value, 2022

HS CodeProduct labelUS$
640411Sports footwear, incl. tennis shoes, basketball shoes, gym shoes, training shoes, and the like, with outer soles of rubber or plastics and uppers of textile materials6,640,043
640399Footwear with outer soles of rubber, plastics, or composition leather, with uppers of leather (excl. covering the ankle, incorporating a protective metal toe cap, sports footwear, orthopaedic footwear, and toy footwear)4,745,372
640299Footwear with outer soles and uppers of rubber or plastics (excl. covering the ankle or with upper straps or thongs assembled to the sole by means of plugs, waterproof footwear of heading 6401, sports footwear, orthopaedic footwear, and toy footwear)3,044,895
640391Footwear with outer soles of rubber, plastics, or composition leather, with uppers of leather, covering the ankle (excl. incorporating a protective metal toe cap, sports footwear, orthopaedic footwear, and toy footwear)2,354,630
640219Sports footwear with outer soles and uppers of rubber or plastics (excl. waterproof footwear of heading 6401, ski-boots, cross-country ski footwear, snowboard boots, and skating boots with ice or roller skates attached)470,388

Source: Trade Map

Free trade agreements

Vietnam has a myriad of free trade agreements that have made manufacturing footwear in Vietnam easier and cheaper than ever before. These include agreements with the European Union, the United Kingdom, the Eurasian Economic Union, Japan, and South Korea. It is also a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and, as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, it is also included in all of the bloc’s trading agreements. 

Key footwear exports, tariffs by HS code, 2021

Free Trade Agreement640411640399640299640391640219
Most Favoured Nation Tariff30303030
ASEAN Free Trade Area
ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand
ASEAN-China
ASEAN-Hong Kong
ASEAN-India
ASEAN-Japan FTA5555
ASEAN-Korea
CPTPP
EU-Vietnam2020
Vietnam-Japan7.57.57.57.5
Vietnam-Chile10151510
Vietnam-Korea
Vietnam-Eurasian Economic Union

Source: World Trade Organization Tariff Line Duties

Foreign brands manufacturing shoes in Vietnam

Adidas

Adidas has been steadily diversifying its supply chain out of China and south to Vietnam for some time with 52 primary suppliers in the country by the start of 2023. In 2022, Vietnam accounted for the manufacture of about 32 percent of Adidas footwear up from 30 percent in 2021 making Vietnam the second biggest manufacturer of Adidas products, trailing only Indonesia.

Nike 

Like Adidas, Nike has progressively been moving its supply lines out of China with a big chunk relocated to Vietnam. As of November 2023, there were 35 factories in Vietnam producing footwear for Nike and employing 326,461 workers. 

In 2022, these factories produced 44 percent of Nike’s footwear making Vietnam the biggest producer of footwear in Nike’s supply chain.

Crocs

Moving away from sports shoes, well-known casual footwear brand Crocs also makes its shoes in Vietnam. In 2022, 53 percent of crocs were made in Vietnam. Notably, all Crocs suppliers are this-party suppliers with no company-owned production facilities. 

Timberland, Vans, The North Face

VF Corporation, which owns a number of big-name brands including Vans, Timberland, The North Face, Dickies, and Jansport, was working with 208 firms in Vietnam in 2023. Of those seven were licensees, 36 were subcontractors, 56 were tier 1 suppliers, and 109 were tier two suppliers.

Puma

In 2023, Puma had 78 suppliers spread out around Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City was host to the most Puma suppliers with 10 factories whereas Binh Duong was a close second with nine. 

In 2022, Vietnam was Puma’s second biggest source country, producing 30 percent of the firm’s footwear and apparel. Vietnam trailed only China which accounted for 32 percent of Puma’s manufactured goods.

Notably a lot of these brands also make clothing and apparel in Vietnam too. For more information see: Vietnam Clothing Suppliers: Quick Guide 2024

What’s next?

Vietnam footwear manufacturers are a dime a dozen and with excellent access to key raw materials and relatively low-cost labour, making shoes in Vietnam can be relatively easy and cost-effective.

That said, foreign firms looking to manufacture shoes in Vietnam should be mindful that there are a number of ESG regulations in key export markets that can impact their Vietnam operations. For firms new to manufacturing in Vietnam, asking about a contract manufacturer’s ESG compliance plans can be crucial.Furthermore, whereas Vietnam’s myriad of free trade agreements have reduced import tariffs in many markets, there are still a number of countries with which Vietnam does not have free trade agreements. In these instances, shoe imports may fall back on MFN tariffs which can be up to 30 percent. Understanding these agreements and the tariffs associated can be crucial to ensuring foreign brands maximize the value of their Vietnam manufacturing operations.

All of that said, there are a number of big brands manufacturing footwear in Vietnam already and they have been for years. In this context, Vietnam is well prepared for new brands to enter the market, and with the right support, foreign brands can realise real value in footwear manufacturing in Vietnam.

See also: Manufacturing in Vietnam 2024: Ultimate Guide

🡇Firms can best keep tabs on Vietnam footwear manufacturers and changes in the industry by subscribing to the-shiv.🡇

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