Throughout this month, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America held a series of events in Asia aimed at generating awareness of its new Code of Conduct for factory compliance, as well as other critical issues impacting the manufacturing sector.
On Nov. 4, the trade association honored Asia’s eight top shoe factories with the special distinction of Recognized Responsible Footwear Manufacturer. The factories were chosen by a committee of footwear-sourcing executives from across the industry based on their adherence to the Code of Conduct. They include: Dongguan Mayflower Footwear Corp.; Guangzhou Zhujiang Properwell Shoes Mfg. Ltd.; Hue Phong Footwear Co. Ltd.; and Panyu Leader Footwear Corp. The factories’ owners and managers were honored at a reception in Dongguan, China, during which several U.S. footwear executives spoke about the importance of social compliance.
“The selection of these factories as our first recipients of the Recognized Responsible Footwear Manufacturer designation is extremely important for our industry,” said Mike Jeppesen, president of global operations at Wolverine World Wide Inc. and chairman of FDRA’s Factory Enhancement and Sourcing Committee. “FDRA is leading the industry in a pragmatic way to ensure that factory compliance remains a top priority for U.S. brands and their suppliers worldwide.”
The following day, FDRA hosted more than 125 factory managers at its 15th annual Responsible Footwear Forum in Dongguan to discuss the importance of its new factory-recognition program and provide a speaking forum for global brand executives and top Chinese government officials.
In addition, FDRA held a summit on Nov. 10 in Vietnam, where over 10 percent of U.S. footwear imports are produced. During the event in Ho Chi Minh City, which was attended by more than 150 factory representatives, industry executives and experts briefed factory owners and managers on a number of key issues, including the soon-to-be-negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement; improving supply-chain efficiencies; current U.S. product-safety regulations impacting footwear manufacturing; and improving quality control and productivity.
FDRA President Matt Priest said the association will continue to work to rally the industry around the critical issue of compliance. “FDRA is driving real change throughout the footwear supply chain by incentivizing factories to more effectively manage working hours, wages and other important issues,” Priest said. “[Our] Code of Conduct is fast becoming the guidebook for factory compliance across Asia. We have translated it into multiple languages and are making great progress as each month more major footwear companies ask their factories to adopt and implement this industry common standard.”