Footwear in its purest form is a necessity, providing support as well as protection to one's feet from the various surfaces walked upon, be they: uneven, coarse, or sharp surfaces. Previous generations may have survived with one or two pairs of functional footwear, however nowadays the majority of people have a collection of footwear to meet various criteria and needs. Formal, casual, athletic: footwear come in a wide variety of shapes, styles, and sizes.
Footwear has also become an important form of expression for many people from all walks of life not only serving a practical purpose for the wearer, but also playing a role in portraying their self-identity through the footwear they wear. Shoes, along with apparel, have turned from simple goods into genuine status symbols for consumers. Footwear brands and retailers play a huge role catering to this market and these attitudes through their respective offerings and ranges as well as their advertising campaigns.
In 2017, the United States had the largest footwear market in terms of revenue, with a revenue of 79.86 billion U.S. dollars. China was the second largest market for footwear with 58.31 billion U.S. dollars in revenue. In terms of production, China was the leading footwear producer, producing approximately 13.1 billion pairs of shoes.
There are a number of large multi-national companies within this industry, one of the most well known being Nike, the American sportswear company. In 2017, Nike led their main direct competitors of Adidas and Puma with footwear segment revenues of approximately 21.08 billion U.S. dollars worldwide. In 2016, TJX Cos was the leading apparel/footwear retailing company in the world with revenues of 33.2 billion U.S. dollars. In regards to out and out footwear companies, Deichmann posted the largest revenue worldwide at 5.6 billion euros in 2016.