The usual explanation for the globalisation of the footwear industry is the ceaseless search for cheap and amenable labour. The performance of this industry in a range of exporting countries suggests that labour costs alone are insufficient. Attention is focused on the role of labour and the additional factors that have enabled particular countries to penetrate global markets at particular times. Macroeconomic factors, culture and the structure of society at national level are significant, but intermediaries are often crucial in articulating the global commodity chain. Non-productive global factors, such as exchange rates, trade barriers that enforce change within the targeted supplier's industry, commodification, and particular markets must also be taken into account.