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Data compiled by GlobalData reveals China maintained its top spot as the authority on footwear patents between 1 April and 30 June 2023. However, it shows the gap is widening between its closest rival – the United States – from the same period the year before.

Footwear patent publications by location for Q2 2023

Source: GlobalData

The data shows garment and footwear manufacturing behemoth China had 1,066,034 published patents compared to the US’ 187,927, followed by Japan with 109,248 and Europe with 80,077.

Why is the US falling further behind on footwear patents in Q2 2023?

What’s notable however is that the US’ number of footwear patent publications in Q2 2023 had declined compared to the same period in 2022 when it had 199,634 footwear patent publications.

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The uncertain global economy is having an impact on the US garment and footwear sector. Gherzi Textil organisation partner Robert P. Antoshak told Just Style in May that it could take a year for the industry’s outlook to improve, which might explain the reduction in the country’s footwear patent innovation.

Earlier this month the National Retail Federation (NRF) chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz was slightly more optimistic but admitted the US economy is only “rolling forward” so the rate of growth is likely to slow down for the rest of this year.

Similarly, data published by the International Trade Commission last month revealed supply chain disruptions stemming from the pandemic are estimated to have cost the US apparel and footwear sectors between $9bn-17bn alone.

In contrast, China remains the largest apparel and footwear supplier in the world despite talks of diversification and nearshoring. It took the top spot for footwear patent innovation both in Q2 2022 and again in Q2 2023 after it had officially ended its strict zero Covid policy and can benefit from both an international and domestic garment and footwear market.

Notably, its most well-known garment and footwear brand to date – Shein – is said to have dethroned Spain’s Zara and Sweden’s H&M as the top-selling fast-fashion retailer in the US, according to data tracking company Earnest Research.

Plus, The South China Morning Post noted that Shein, as of early-February 2022, was the second most downloaded iOS shopping app in the US and Canada, trailing only e-commerce giant Amazon, quoting data from market intelligence platform Similarweb.

In two months’ time (2-4 September) China is bringing some of its leading fashion brands and labels to Paris with more international events in the pipeline.