JOAQUIM LEANDRO de MELO, Vice President of the UITIC

General Manager of CTCP – Portuguese Footwear Technological Centre, and Vice Present of the UITIC. CTCP and APICCAPS are the co-organisers of the 20th edition of the UITIC Congress in Porto, Portugal in May.

Established in 1971, UITIC’s objective of grouping national associations of footwear technicians, institutes, technical centres, companies or any individuals working in the technology field of the footwear industry.

UITIC is the French acronym for the International Union of Shoe Industry, and their primary objective is the diffusion of technical knowledge across the footwear industry. In particular, by organising international conferences on a regular basis and by taking the initiative in setting up information exchanges between its members, mainly in the field of technology. UITIC also produces brochures and newsletters to disseminate relevant information.

Joaquim Leandro de Melo explained to Apparel that UITIC is all about the circulation of knowledge, the exchange of experiences, the publication of information, the holding of conferences, and the organisation of visits and missions of entrepreneurs to companies from around the globe. “Everybody can see advanced materials and modern technologies in fairs, but seeing them applied in real production is more difficult. That is one of the unique advantages presented by the visits to the footwear factories,” added Leandro de Melo.

The UITIC Congress discusses issues relevant to footwear companies such as development strategies, business models, fashion and design, automation and robotics, advanced materials, sustainability, and training processes for the new generation of workers. “These topics will be addressed by experts from various parts of the world, coming from the USA, Germany, China, Italy, Spain, France, Brazil, Mexico, India, and Portugal. At the same time, the attendees will have the opportunity to have a deeper contact with the Portuguese footwear industry, which is considered a worldwide success, and will be able to visit up to 12 Portuguese companies using modern technologies and manufacturing processes.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to get in contact with the vision of some of the greatest experts from the footwear industry while networking with representatives from some of the major industry players. At the same time, they will be able to see how some of the most modern companies in the world are working.

The footwear industry has undergone significant changes in recent years, which will continue, and will intensify its rhythm in the future. Major changes include:

  • Shoe production centres have changed with the appearance of new players.
  • Business models have changed, and new market segments have emerged, more specialised and in need of special footwear (safety, sports, medical, waterproof, and so on).
  • The importance of fast fashion model.
  • The production of mass-produced shoes gave way to customised products.
  • Production lines adapted to large-scale production have become more flexible to allow the production of small orders.
  • The online commerce has gained importance and must be considered in the marketing and retail of footwear.
  • The materials increasingly feel advanced properties and high performance.
  • Automation is part of the manufacturing process.

“So, all these changes relate to the digital and are all part of the Industry 4.0, the new industrial revolution. And hence, we decided the theme of the 20th edition of the UITIC Congress had to be From Fashion to Factory: A New Technological Age.”

The vast majority of the footwear industry is located around Porto in a radius of 100km. This has resulted in a favourable organisation of the Portuguese footwear industry, which can quickly respond to the market needs without significant disruptions. The production of footwear requires the use of many materials and components; the intervention of several skilled and well-trained professionals, various management skills, marketing, modern technologies, and much more. “Only certain regions of the world have all these facilities and infrastructures concentrated in a cluster. It is an inevitable phenomenon that tends to improve the competitiveness and efficiency of the enterprises,” said Leandro de Melo. “Portugal has this.”

E-commerce has been a crucial element in almost all sectors; online sales have gained increasing importance in the footwear business. “E-commerce platforms have increased in number and functionality, but current trends seem to indicate that the experiences of omnichannel, combining the online and brick and mortar segments, will prevail in the future,” explained Leandro de Melo. He went on to explain that, in fact, a new paradigm of customer relation is on the horizon that will integrate all different elements of the online and offline presence of brands and companies. This topic will be central in the Congress discussions.

The 20th UITIC Congress is a unique opportunity for importers, distributors and retailers to get to know Portuguese brands, to visit some of the most important factories and to network with some essential Portuguese players, who position their brands in niche markets and very specialised segments. Those looking for differentiated products with a twist will be impressed by the Portuguese footwear brands.

The organisation is expecting around 400 participants in the 20th edition of the UITIC Congress, including footwear manufacturers, suppliers of equipment and technologies, producers of materials, distribution and retail distribution companies, footwear associations, technical centres, universities, journalists, and so on. Being part of this community, which can be found in Porto for one week, offers immense possibilities for information exchange and networking.

For more information or to register now visit