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Footwear in South Africa


In the 90’s South Africa had a booming shoe industry. 88 million shoes were consumed each year with 64 million pairs being manufactured in South Africa itself. The local footwear manufacturing industry employed 34 500 people and supplied 80 percent of South Africa’s market. In the 2000’s however, the percent of shoes manufactured in South Africa dropped by 35 percent and the workforce dwindled to only 5300. One of the main reasons, if not the main reason, for this was due to the increase of imports from China, which made the market unbearable for local manufacturers. However times are always changing.

The Footwear Manufacturer’s Federation of South Africa (FMF) was established in 1944 to serve the interests of the footwear manufacturers in South Africa at a national level. In 1997 the South African Footwear & Leather Industries Association (SAFLIA) was formed to due to the restructuring of the FMF to encompass the supplier industries in order for manufacturers and suppliers to work closer together for the benefit of the footwear industry as a whole.

Under the umbrella of SAFLIA the industry includes nearly 120 footwear manufacturers, with approximately 60 small, medium and microenterprises not registered with SAFLIA. Kwa-Zulu Natal is the predominant shoe producing province (60% of production). Western Cape comes in second followed by the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga.

KMA SA Marketing supply and manufacture PVC, TPR, TPU and TPE compounds used in the manufacturing of shoe soles.

Which are the Most Common Plastics Used in Footwear Manufacturing?

PVC compounds (and recycle) are more commonly found in South African footwear compared to TPR which tends to be more expensive.

What are the Different Plastics used in Shoe Soles?

TPR – usually for casual and dress shoes

PVC– usually for gumboots, work shoes, cheap fashion footwear, school shoes

PVC nitrile rubber– usually found in industrial footwear (including gumboots) as it has a high chemical resistance. It is also used in mining industry

PU– usually found in slops, sport shoes and lightweight shoe soles. Also used for any shoe that needs a high abrasion or cut resistance.

Styrene (GPPS/HIPS) ladies heels- sandals and stilettos

PP– found in plastic aglets

Definitions: TPR: thermoplastic rubber

PVC: polyvinyl chloride

PU: polyurethane

GPPS: general purpose polystyrene

HIPS: high impact polystyrene

PP: polypropylene

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