I believe our "guvvies" will be doing the following to correct this problem:
This is the strategy that was so successful (he said sarcastically) when our own footwear industry faced the same threat in the 80s & 90s. That war is over for us and we lost. As of 2003, on 2% of the 2 BILLION pairs of shoes purchased in the US were manufactured here (AAFA figures in a Footwear News, April 25, 2005 article). I believe I read somewhere that the current estimate is something like 1.6% domestically produced.
I work with an Italian last maker and they say that the industry is indeed in chaos. This is happening (I believe) after years of denial in Italy. The old "it could never happen to us" attitude. They didn't think the Chinese would ever be able to make quality fashion shoes and now they've found out they were wrong. That same article talks about how many of the very finest names in Italian footwear design are having some or all of their lines made in China.
There is hope however. First, there are the talented artists like the ones who frequent this forum who keep the hand made tradition going and you are all owed a HUGE debt of gratitude by everyone. Then there is the possibility that technology and business smarts can beat the importers at their own game, which has been quality, price, and extremely fast turnaround. There is a factory in Florida that would absolutely amaze you if you visited it. The company is Otabo. This is the most technologically advanced shoe factory I have ever been in and I've been in some real doozies in Brazil and China. They just won the prestigious Progressive Manufacturer of the Year Award, competing against companies like Ford, HP, and many others outside the footwear industry whose names escape me right now. Visit the Otabo website (www.otabo.com
) to learn more and there is a link at the bottom of the home page to an article about the award competition.
Attitudes and spirit like this will help our industry survive and possibly even thrive again someday. Like everything else, if we wait for the beltway gang in DC to help us, we'll be waiting a long time because at the end of the day, if it's not going to benefit oil, pharmaceutical, banks, insurance, (and I'm talking companies, not workers), or their own pockets, those ****** (substitute your favorite vulgar adjective here) boys and girls aren't going to do a thing for us. We signed on to the WTO and though, there can be an argument made for the benefits as well as one for the hardships it causes, sometimes the benefits are hard to swallow.
That sound you just heard was my blood pressure dropping back to normal.