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Mariusz Babral: Sustainability is a revolution


We spoke with Mariusz Babral, Vice-President of the Polish Chamber of Shoe and Leather Industry, to discuss some of the pressing issues of the moment within the footwear industry

Polish footwear industry

The Polish footwear industry has been exposed to a very challenging situation since China entered the WTO. At the time, the Polish footwear industry was still at the very beginning of adapting the design and the technics to the world standards when it happened. So, it changed completely, and we had to go ahead with new design and with the modernization of equipment, and overall, it has been done in a very difficult situation. But these years haven’t been lost, and people have changed the face of our industry.

Attracting young people

They (the young people) want to go to the jobs with technology and all the computerised techniques and to the high fashion, but not many of them want to do the simple, everyday job. There are not many schools teaching the profession we are promoting. The companies need to invite young people to the factory to show that today the factory of shoes is not the same. It is a modern factory with highly computerised equipment, and it requires very special skills.

The role of Europe

Europe remains the centre of the footwear tradition and although big volumes are going out from Europe, all the attraction of the fashion remains here. Our strength is the strong cultural foundation and the spirit of innovation and creativity.

Sustainability

It’s a revolution. It is not a fashion. We are facing a revolution because we cannot go ahead in the same way and spoil the world. We will need big creativity in reprogramming all the footwear production processes in view of achieving the final goal of having the possibility of leaving less impact in the environment


The consumer

The decisions of consumers will affect dramatically the production. The consumer doesn’t want to pay more for the same product. We will find some balance between the consumer needs concerning the price and the consumers’ expectations concerning the future life in the world. We will have to find it.

Current market situation

I do not think the situation is really so much different of other historical moments. We have to face these changes. Probably today the world is more complex than before, because we live in the global world and we so not think local; but I believe strongly that every moment there are new opportunities


Future challenges

The structure of the distribution channels is continuously changing. E-commerce, for example, at the beginning it seemed like it wasn’t really an option for selling footwear, but it turned to be and is actually growing and creating opportunities. And fundamentally, a big challenge is the environment and the sustainability. And when we speak about sustainability we speak about the surrounding world.
 
 
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