Women In “Men’s Work”

    Meenakshi Kalsi Metro Shoes

    Authored by Meenakshi Kalsi, Managing Partner, Metro & Metro Shoes

    Historically, women did not work in the shoe industry, as they did in the textile industry. Cobbling or shoemaking was almost universally regarded as “men’s work,” whereas weaving was regarded as a female occupation. However, during the nineteenth century in this country, women found one of their most important jobs in the shoe industry, which has the second-highest proportion of female employees after the textile sector, according to the I905 Survey of Manufactures. Women, on the other hand, were never “shoemakers” in the traditional sense of the word, and their involvement in the industry began only with the emergence of the labour division system, which had been in place for more than 50 years prior to the revolution brought about by machinery and the factory system.

    So, the question is, what are the factors that are enticing women to work in the shoe industry these days? What motivates them to actively participate in shoemaking?

    Such inquiries can go on indefinitely. And, as an answer, there could be numerous factors that can lead to the scenario being stated. Let us delve deep to find out the answers.

    The historical context explains how footwear evolved from a commodity to a symbol of identity, personality, and lifestyle. India, a country of artisans, has long been admired for its footwear craftsmanship. Traditional footwear made by local craftsmen includes leather Kolhapur chappals, Jodhpuri embroidered Juttis, Sikkim Indo-Tibetan boots, and Ladakhor vegetable fibre shoes. When it comes to the creative side, not only textiles require design. Design is at the heart of everything related to creativity. It has also been discovered that women are more creative than men. Women have always been at the forefront of design, creation, and styling. Furthermore, in the shoe industry, they can showcase their design and use their full potential to execute.

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    Knowing how important footwear and textile are in the fashion industry, women began to explore the other side of it. This could be the first-factortextiles attracting women to start a shoe-making business.

    In terms of footwear production, India ranks second only to China. According to Invest India, India produces 10.7 percent of the world’s footwear. The growth of the Indian apparel and lifestyle industry has boosted the footwear sector as well. It evolved from a fundamentally need-based sector to a fashion and styling segment. Digital trends are having a significant impact on the Indian fashion market.

    As a result of rising demand, the e-commerce model has entered the footwear market, opening up a wide range of opportunities for SME sectors, particularly in cities in tiers II and III. Furthermore, the overall e-commerce ecosystem made it simple for many businesses and premium footwear labels to enter the market. Online retailing has enabled SMEs and businesses across the country to focus on national rather than local consumers. New opportunities for online retail have emerged, including omnichannel, multichannel, and direct-to-consumer (D2C).

    India is on the verge of a retail revolution, propelled by rapidly changing lifestyles and purchasing habits. Because of the changing retail landscape and fashion trends, the footwear industry is poised for significant growth in the future. Brands drive the Indian market, which is dominated by organised businesses. The use of social media and the internet in the daily lives of Indian consumers has significantly altered how they shop. Urbanization has a significant impact on consumer purchasing patterns. Footwear consumption has risen dramatically as a result of increased brand awareness and disposable income. As a result, footwear has evolved into much more than just a piece of clothing these days.

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    Competitive pressures among multinational enterprises enable growing user-experience-focused innovation in footwear. The production of athletic footwear with polyurethane capsules is the most recent and popular innovation. Furthermore, some footwear incorporates sensors that measure distance travelled, speed, and calories burned. There is one particular training shoe that boasts a carbon fibre-like springy hitch beneath the outsole that actually helps a runner forward. Because of rising consumer demand for high-end and unique products, customised footwear is currently popular. Numerous global companies have launched services that allow customers to personalise their shoes with their own cultural patterns.

    The primary advantage of a career in the footwear industry is that it is non-seasonal and constantly evolving, as footwear has always played an important role in completing any fashion that passes by, whether it is casual, semi-formal, or professional. Footwear designers, footwear technologists, product developers, quality controllers, merchandisers, marketing executives, trend analysts, planning executives, and other positions are available in the footwear industry.

    Most notably, the footwear industry has made significant contributions to the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit, upholding the time-honored maxim that poverty can be reduced through self-sufficiency. Those with a flair for originality and creativity have found market success by launching their own footwear lines under unrecognisable names.


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