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Unorthodox Footwear Career

Watching the evolution of Dongguan’s shoe industry over the years, Brazilian expat Eduardo Torres shares his remarkable career journey.

Back in 1998, Eduardo Torres moved to Dongguan for a job that was 20 years ahead of its time, despite being unable to speak any English. Back in his hometown of São Paulo, he was previously a mechanical engineer working for American automobile brand Ford.

During that time, a Brazilian shoe production agent, Paramont, was starting to relocate more know-how personnel from Brazil. Nonetheless, Eduardo was never the classic shoemaker. “A shoe company said, ‘Wow, this is great, you can do the [outsole 3D] prototypes.’ They could not find the right people for that for a long time, and I felt it was technically easier than car parts,” he recalls. “It was quite innovative for footwear [at that time].”

Although he remembers only seven Brazilians in the Dongguan office when he arrived, that changed quickly. “Very fast, they had to move more production to China because the footwear [in Brazil] became very expensive. They started to bring shoe technicians and leather professionals and workers from all levels of the industry that know how to transfer their skills and make shoes.” Later on, Eduardo switched to another company due to his first company’s decision to cut high-tech expenses and return to traditional prototype making. At the same time, he met his Chinese wife and started to feel at home in China.

After working at several more shoe companies over the years, he’s now holding a high-ranked position as production manager for Tory Burch, an American fashion label. While many of the thousands of Brazilian expats have left Dongguan, people like Eduardo are still here, utilizing the skills they’ve acquired over the years to lead shoe productions for various international brands.