Abstract: Competing in Fashion Goods: Firms and Industrial Districts in the Development of the Spanish Shoemaking Industry
In this essay, I analyze the development of the Spanish shoe industry from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century in order to determine what enabled Spain to become an important world exporter of footwear beginning in the 1960s. The accepted hypothesis is that the industry's evolution was determined by both Spain's economic development and the sector's characteristics internationally. When southern European countries became large footwear suppliers worldwide, Spain was able to take advantage of the opportunity because of the concentration of its production structure in highly specialized clusters and its ability to adapt quickly. During the 1970s crisis, these clusters demonstrated their collective efficiency and high capacity to adapt to market changes. I review the global footwear market since the late nineteenth century, examine the formation of the main specialized clusters in Spain, and show their decisive role in industry expansion during the final third of the twentieth century.