Claudio E. Benzecry, “The Perfect Fit: Creative Work in the Global Shoe Industry” (U Chicago Press, 2022)

The Perfect Fit: Creative Work in the Global Shoe Industry (The University of Chicago Press, 2022) shows us how globalization works through the many people and places involved in making women’s shoes.

We know a lot about how clothing and shoes are made cheaply, but very little about the process when they are made beautifully. In The Perfect Fit, Claudio E. Benzecry looks at the craft that goes into designing shoes for women in the US market, revealing that this creative process takes place on a global scale. Based on unprecedented behind-the-scenes access, The Perfect Fit offers an ethnographic window into the day-to-day life of designers, fit models, and technicians as they put together samples and prototypes, showing how expert work is a complement to and a necessary condition for factory exploitation.

Benzecry looks at the decisions and constraints behind how shoes are designed and developed, from initial inspiration to the mundane work of making sure a size seven stays constant. In doing so, he also fosters an original understanding of how globalization works from the ground up. Drawing on five years of research in New York, China, and Brazil, The Perfect Fit reveals how creative decisions are made, the kinds of expertise involved, and the almost impossible task of keeping the global supply chain humming.

Claudio E. Benzecry is Professor of Communication Studies and Sociology (courtesy) at Northwestern University.

Jun (Philip) Fang is an incoming Assistant Professor of Sociology at Colby College.

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