LEÓN, SHOE CAPITAL
Leon is one of Mexico’s largest cities in Mexico (the fifth). It’s located in the state of Guanajuato and is considered the global shoe capital.
The history of how this city became the ‘Shoe Capital of the World’ with a rich cultural diversity is quite interesting.
EARLY HISTORY OF THE CITY OF LEON
Founded in 1576 by the Spanish conquistadors, Leon was built under the leadership of Juan Bautista de Orozco and through the orders of Viceroy Martin Enriquez de Almanza. The original purpose of the city was to guard the general area against the constant threat of the local Chichimecas tribe. These were a native tribe whose people resisted the Spanish invasion.
Soon, the Spanish settlers established farming and cattle-raising in the city of Leon. Both of these industries have grown and continued up to the present day.
There was also the surge and constant immigration of different nationals who chose to reside in this small colonial town. This factor only contributed to the flow of goods in and out of Leon, hence contributing to the growth of its economy.
FROM AN AGRICULTURAL TOWN TO A GLOBAL SHOE CAPITAL
There are economies where cattle-raising and farming might remain just that, but the people of Leon took their skills a step further. The large growth in cattle-raising soon led the town people to manufacture leather goods and build tanneries.
As early as 1645, shoemaking became a part of the local industry. It then flourished and became stronger with each passing generation right up to the present. The local cobblers and shoemakers passed their craftsmanship from one generation to another. Thus, each generation learned old skills and developed them to a new level. Technological advancements probably played a large role in this development as well.