Over the last 150 years, America’s numerous contributions to the world of shoemaking include a long list on innovations that continue to dictate how the world treats their feet.

From simple changes such as different boots for each foot, multiple widths and comfortable soles — to mass manufacturing, customization and more effective finishing technologies — the United States continues to put its best foot forward!

Over 30 years ago, the American shoe manufacturing industry began slowly moving most production overseas, similar to the pharmaceutical and electronics industries. Instead of building quality shoes in America, the primary focus shifted to marketing, logistics and distribution. While this didn’t stop innovation, it reduced flexibility, extended lead-times and in some cases, negatively affected the overall quality of the finished product.

Liberty Footwear sources high quality components from vendors based in the USA and abroad but proudly remains one of only a handful of American shoe factories — building all their boots and shoes in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This offers several benefits to the factory as well as its customers.

The factory remains more flexible by tying less capital in material inventory, maintaining the ability to quickly scale up production of particular styles, colors or outsoles as needed, and can directly respond to customer demand.

Having access to manufacturing allows experimentation, faster innovation, adjustments to feedback from retailers and individual consumers. Additionally, this access protects our brand from intellectual theft, from unauthorized use of methods or components. Finally, our U.S. factory negotiated component prices similar to factories in Asia and the family ownership maintains low overhead costs to offer affordable prices for locally built footwear.

Larger shoe brands, primarily in the athletic space, continue to explore domestic shoe manufacturing — even setting up pilot production in recent years. They hope to revive consumer enthusiasm for locally made footwear and also entice former suppliers of various components to reopen shuttered production facilities. Additionally, this may lead to vendors who can begin to onshore production to better serve their growing base in this country.

Liberty Footwear proudly remains an integral part of this new movement, not only for our current business, but to hopefully pass on shoemaking skills and traditions to future generations.

For more information on why American built footwear still rules from the experts at Liberty Footwear, please contact us here, shop for our products or call our factory directly at 616.930.3060.

Jon Conkling

Author Jon Conkling

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