The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) announced record-breaking attendance at events in Dongguan, China, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, this month. The workshops were sponsored by and featured speakers from footwear companies including Wolverine Worldwide, Steve Madden, Nike, R.G. Barry Brands and Brown Shoe Company.
The first event in Dongguan on Nov. 4 recognized eight footwear factories with the special distinction as Recognized Responsible Footwear Manufacturer. The recipients of the prestigious designation were China’s Dongguan Mayflower Footwear Corp., Guangzhou Zhujiang Properwell Shoes Mfg. Ltd, Panyu Leader Footwear Corp., Putian Chengyi Footwear Co. Ltd Serena Shoe Co. Ltd and Yangzhou FuHeng Shoes Co. Ltd, and Vietnam’s Hue Phong Footwear Co. Ltd and Right Rich VN Co. Ltd. All factories were chosen by a committee of top footwear sourcing executives across the industry based on compliance with the FDRA’s new Code of Conduct.
The following day, over 124 factory managers attended the 15th Annual Responsible Footwear Forum (RFF) in Dongguan to discuss the factory recognition program, the importance of social compliance and the new Code of Conduct, and hear from global brand executives and key Chinese government officials. “This was the first time anyone has pulled over 100 factory owners together in one place to recognize the top footwear factory performers in the area of social compliance,” reports R.G. Barry Brands President and CEO and FDRA Chairman Greg Tunney.
The following week, the FDRA held its first-ever event in Vietnam, which more than 150 factory representatives attended. Industry executives and experts briefed factory owners and managers about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement, which will begin negotiations soon, improvement in supply chain efficiency, current U.S. product safety regulations and ways to improve quality and productivity while incorporating compliance.
FDRA President Matt Priest congratulates the recipients of the recognition and notes, “The Code of Conduct is fast becoming the guidebook for factory compliance across Asia… FDRA is driving real change throughout the footwear supply chain by incentivizing factories to more effective work hours, wages, and other important issues.” The overall safety and quality of working conditions for the workforce making shoes in Asia is making strides in the right direction thanks to the FDRA, and that is something that benefits the industry and consumers alike.