It might surprise you but Leon, Mexico is considered to be the global shoe capital. Find out in this article why.
Did you ever wonder where the famous loafers chosen by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as retirement shoes came from? If your answer is Italy where most of the shoes worn by the Papacy were made, then you are wrong. Those famous shoes were handcrafted in Mexico by the local shoemakers of Leon. The shoes were given to him during the Pope’s visit in Mexico in 2012. Leon is located in the state of Guanajuato and is the fifth largest city in Mexico. It is rich in culture and history. Since the early 20th century, the city has experienced extraordinary industrial growth in leather production. The footwear industry has remained strong; Leon produces 60% of the shoes worn in Mexico. This amazing and beautiful city manufactures also leather goods such as bags, leather jackets and belts. How does the city become the “Shoe Capital of the World”?
The city of Leon was founded in 1576 with the purpose of creating a defense against the Chichimecas. These Spanish settlers established cattle-raising and farming which have continued up till the present day.
Soon the rapid growth in cattle-raisng led Leon’s inhabitants to manufacture leather goods. In the 17th century shoemaking industry began flourishing and remained strong up to the present as local shoemakers transmitted their craftmanship from generation to generation. Leon’s shoemaking industry has attracted many immigrants from Spain, Argentina and Italy over the years, and the result is the best practices in shoemaking.
Today Leon has over 3,400 shoe manufacturers as well as hundreds of leather goods and accessories industries, suppliers of textiles and other materials for shoemaking.
Most of these industries are based in the main leather district of Zona Piel.
About 60 percent of shoes in Mexico are made in Leon which has graced both the local and international markets.
Famous shoe brands such as Poppy Barley of Canada or Sketchers decided to set up their operations in the city. The great production of quality leather footwear has given the city its title Shoe Capital of the World. To commemorate this outstanding achievement, the city of Leon organizes an international shoe fair (SAPICA) to show case the versatility of shoe manufacturers all over the city. The exhibitors of Sapica exhibit the latest and advanced products and services including footwear production techniques, various kinds of designer footwear and innovative products and services related to shoe industry.
So the next time you buy a pair of shoe, think of Leon… it might be made in this famous city!