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Fixing Common Quality Defects on Imported Footwear

Fixing Common Quality Defects on Imported Footwear

Header Image - Fixing Quality Defects on Imported Footwear - Shows different styles of shoes

The footwear industry produces some staggering numbers!

According to the FDRA, the U.S. imported 5.7 pairs of shoes for every man, woman, and child in the country. Annual sales topped $76.9 billion in 2020 and nearly 99% of all shoes sold in the U.S. annually are imported.

The challenges to produce that volume of footwear overseas for import into the U.S. are many. Making shoes can be a complex, labor-intensive process, involving a variety of global partners.

Skilled workers, attention to details, specialized production equipment and the ability to produce the high volumes of output required all must work in concert to meet the product demands of U.S. consumers that clearly love owning a few pairs of shoes.

The type and variety of shoes made overseas can vary greatly in materials used, how products are constructed, design features, labeling requirements, how they are packaged, and much more.

The number of steps it takes to make a shoe can range from a few dozen to a few hundred. Processing steps include cutting of materials, stitching, applying adhesives, and finishing processes to name a few. Components used in shoe making can vary widely too, depending upon the style of shoe being made. Common components and hardware include items such as eyelets, straps, soles, insoles, laces, labels, or buckles for example.

Types of shoes infographic - Shoe styles in stylized fonts and colors

Post-production, goods are carefully packaged and prepared for shipment from the overseas factories to U.S. ports and distribution centers for ultimate delivery to retail stores and online channels.

When everything is running optimally, the results are the timely delivery of many diverse floor-ready footwear products that meet the needs of discerning U.S. consumers. But, despite making every effort to ensure production and shipping delivers product perfection, problems or imperfections in footwear products imported from overseas can and do arise from time-to-time.



In most cases, footwear products typically arrive from overseas in excellent condition. However, there are many intricacies in the coordination of production in overseas locations and ultimately shipping products successfully to U.S. destinations. Any misstep, mistake, or unforeseen disruption in production or shipping functions can result in inbound U.S. shipments requiring corrections or repair.

While every effort is made to minimize the chance of goods arriving with imperfections, any number of factors can disrupt the timely flow of imported footwear products meeting a brand’s quality standards. Factors that can lead to problems in producing and shipping first-quality goods consistently, include but are not limited to:

Production mistakes

Quality of materials or components

Improper packaging or carelessness in handling

Miscommunications, language barriers

Moisture and humidity issues

Fragility in the supply chains

With over 35 years of expert experience in fixing footwear products, the team at Quality Corrections & Inspections (QCI) has observed and corrected a wide variety of footwear defects. Some of the common quality defects in footwear that Quality Corrections & Inspections has observed and corrected over the years has included:

Weak adhesive bonds or delamination – Sole bonding is a common reason for shoe failure.
Blooming issues – Often observed as a white hazy deposit or coating that may occur typically on rubbers or leathers.
Spot cleaning – Excess glues, waxes, oils, or threads, as well as abrasion marks, can impact product appearance and are often corrected through spot clean reworks.
Yellowing – Materials such as soft plastics and rubbers may be subject to developing a yellow cast on a finished product typically due to oxidation. Footwear that has been stored over long periods of time in warmer climates or long term in a warehouse improperly can be at risk of yellowing.
Mold, odor, mildew remediation – Moisture and humidity conditions during production and/or while goods are in transit can often lead to mold, odor, or mildew issues.
Hardware or component replacements and repairs – Production processing mistakes, poor-quality components, corrosion, and product safety or hazard issues can result in needs to do replacements or repairs.
Label corrections – Incorrect labeling for product information such as sizing or federally required information are common needs for footwear label corrections.
Crocking and color bleed corrections – Typically occurs when dyes (or colors) have rubbed off onto other product materials. Causes can vary widely.
Refinishing of uppers – Substandard finishes and incorrect shades that do not meet production samples or product appearance standards will often require refinishing work.
Sole/Insole replacements and repairs – Mis-sizing, improper fit, poor adhesion, careless product handling, and other concerns can often result in needs for repairs and replacements.
Asymmetry issues – Shoe parts, components, colors, logos, and other features should properly align or match when examined side-by-side. QCI has been regularly engaged to help companies inspect, sort, and/or correct shoes with asymmetry issues.



Identifying shoe quality issues before they hit retail stores or customers doors is more important than ever as retailers work to ensure inventory availability for critical sales periods throughout a given year. To limit the possibilities of shoe defects before they reach customers, inspections of inbound shipments are an excellent screening tool to minimize customer acceptance of the product or worse, returns of the product.

Inbound QA Analysts or Inspectors perform important functions to ensure imported footwear shipments meet their brand’s established guidelines for product quality. Random sample inspections (commonly known as “AQL” Acceptable Quality Level sampling) or full 100% inspections may occur upon receipt of an overseas shipment to identify significant defects or product appearances issues that may impact consumer perceptions of a shoe’s quality or desirability.

Any inconsistencies or concerns are often immediately addressed by making corrections or repairs. Shoe reworks are typically done utilizing internal staff or by outsourcing such work to outsourced service providers with the expertise, production equipment, staffing, and resources to undertake any necessary repairs and corrections.



Product rework specialists such as Quality Corrections & Inspections serve as key supply chain resource partners to footwear brands and overseas factories around the world as many are not equipped to quickly undertake footwear rework projects in the U.S. Relying on an experienced and specialized partner to fix common quality defects in footwear presents an excellent opportunity quickly restore imported merchandise to first-quality standards.

Quality Corrections & Inspections has a 35-year legacy of delivering superior results for footwear companies around the world. Created by shoemakers to support the footwear industry we can repair or correct almost any type of shoe product. Our knowledge and experience in footwear production and repair enable our client partners to offer only the highest quality product to their consumer base.

With U.S. facilities on both the east and west coast, QCI is also well equipped with the capacity and coverage to service inventories nationwide for quick turnaround to retailer distribution centers and e-commerce fulfillment channels.



Quality Corrections & Inspections is a valuable supply chain resource partner that helps companies overcome supply chain disruptions impacting the quality and availability of their imported products destined for sale in U.S. stores and direct-to-consumer channels.

When the unexpected happens to one of your imported footwear shipments that requires immediate attention, contact QCI for a no-cost project analysis. Allow QCI to assess, rework, repair, and return your shoes to first quality standards rather than return to vendor or your overseas manufacturer.