ZDA PARTIZÁNSKE FROM 1948 UNTIL NOW
The history of ZDA Partizánske reaches back to 1948. It has changed and formed the footwear industry in our country. Thousands of people worked in the factory and even more people wore its shoes. We, Slovaks and Czechs, nowadays perceive this brand also as a nostalgic and pleasant look back at the past.
In ZDA, we want you to perceive “shoes from Partizánske”, the ZDA Partizánske brand (Závody 29. augusta Partizánske) as it were in the past – as a manufacturer of quality Slovak shoes. But also as a company that innovates, reflects fashion trends and brings them to the market. We will create beautiful, original shoes for you, noted for the quality and having their own story. ZDA shoes will last you more than one season. A very important criterion for us is also the lack of health risks of materials. Therefore, we work with the best quality materials that we buy exclusively in the EU countries. So that wearing ZDA shoes is an experience for you.
ZÁVODY 29. AUGUSTA PARTIZÁNSKE – FROM THE PAST TO THE PRESENT
An interview with Mr. Milan Foltan, the Chief Executive Officer of ZDA Partizánske. Himself being a creative soul, he designs shoes that have won every generation. In 2017, they won the Golden Fatima (Zlatá Fatima) award.
In the past, ZDA Partizánske was producing shoes to all over the world, is it different nowadays?
Yes, we were producing shoes for export in incredible quantities. Several million pairs were produced annually. At the same time, we were selling ZDA Partizánske shoes in the largest shoe retail network called Obuv. Nowadays we also produce shoes to all over the world, but the production is not such enormous anymore. However, we still produce thousands of shoe pairs each year.
The fact that you do not produce shoes today as much as in the past was caused by the relocation of producers to cheaper Asia?
Exactly, after the emergence of cheap Asian suppliers almost every industry witnessed a situation where domestic suppliers started to be expensive. This was caused by poor financial situation and high interest rates of up to 20 %, which weighed on every producer, whether in light or heavy industry.
Those were though times for sure, especially in terms of keeping the factory in operation…
There was a situation, when I had to decide which way to go. My decision was influenced mainly by the genes of my grandfather – shoemaker, who prompted me to stay with the production of footwear. At the same time, I think some things in life are simply waiting for you. Similarly, I believe ZDA Partizánske was waiting for me to restore its tradition. I registered the brand and renamed my company to ZDA Partizánske. This made me very happy because I wanted to devote my work to this period and to people who managed the factory. I hereby pay a tribute to them. I believe that in the near future I will be able to contact people who managed ZDA in the past to reunite their names with the factory.
What fascinates you the most about working in footwear industry?
I am fascinated by the skill and craftsmanship of modellers who can create a basic footwear model from a drawing. It is very complicated. Today this field of study is not even taught in schools, so we miss new blood, young talents. The common practice abroad is that modellers receive documentation via computer and make only minor adjustments through a programme. In ZDA Partizánske, we still work in such a way that modellers have to create a template according to the image of a shoe. A good modeller must have great imagination, know the properties of each material on a shoe and also must have skills that can only be acquired through practice. It is priceless work.
You said that in present this study field isn’t even taught in schools. Do you have any idea about how you will seek such skilled modellers a few years ahead?
Currently, in ZDA Partizánske we have the modeller in his best years, yielding on his knowledge and experience. Of course, we are looking for young modellers, who will learn from him, as today this field cannot be studied since there is little interest in it. It is caused mainly by the fact that work in the apparel industry is not economically attractive. Modelling is an interesting job for enthusiasts and therefore, we look for young people who enjoy this work.
Your work is very interesting. You produce shoes for many clients from interesting countries of the world, such as Japan. What were the special requirements you have had to deal with?
Yes, we also have customers, who have special and truly specific requirements, which we often and gladly satisfy. I have been cooperating with the Japanese for 18 years already and their orders are often non-standard. They demand more extravagant footwear in terms of both models and materials. This is, for example, why we also sew shoes from seal, horse or crocodile skin. The funny thing is that we also sew shoes from paper for one client. Every such order is a challenge for us, which we accept, because we always learn something from it. It is thanks to accepting such challenges that we can pride ourselves on distinctiveness.
The ZDA Partizánske, a traditional brand, with a really good reputation, is coming back. How do you perceive and plan the comeback of the ZDA Partizánske brand among the Slovaks? What is your advantage?
Our advantage is tanned linings. Those processed naturally by tan and not by chromium. You can use such shoes barefoot as well. Chromium is an enemy, although we often do not realize it enough. My goal is to provide customers with a combination of quality and comfort. Moreover, besides the health aspect we also talk about a very pleasant material to touch, which is soft and comfortable.
The ZDA Partizánske brand is remembered by many of your customers. They will certainly be pleased by your comeback.
Yes, we believe the shoes from the upcoming ZDA Partizánske collection will meet with great interest from customers who wore our shoes with pleasure in the past. At the same time, we would like to address the young generation that we want to approach with a stylish design and high-standard comfort. The ZDA Partizánske brand is deeply graved in minds of our potential customers and we would really like to satisfy their consumer desires, either through a modern or retro collection.
So, in addition to the generation that remembers you with pleasure, your plans include also young people.
Sure, we are pleased that young people no longer want to wear what everyone else does. They want to be unique, stand out from the crowd and seek new brands. A young customer wants to have original, but also high-quality shoes. Our company offers all this. We see a change in thinking of customers, in particular over the past few years. Purchase of goods is not only about price anymore, but especially about their quality, materials used to produce them, as well as about the relationship of the producer to environment. And, what makes us happy the most, is that the Slovaks have been returning to verified domestic brands. Young people are an important target group and we want to convince them that eye-appealing and quality footwear can also originate in Slovakia.
Would you reveal the concept of the upcoming collections by ZDA Partizánske that we look forward to?
We want to go in the direction of fashion. We have started a very nice cooperation with the designer Boris Hanečka. In addition to the fact that we produced a shoe collection for him, which complemented his fashion collection on Fashion Live!, we are preparing also something new. At the same time we take a purposeful direction, in which we cooperate with the dancer Vierka Ayisi. In cooperation with her we have designed our first dance line. We continue with the sport line that includes our marathon sneakers, because it is also in our interest to promote sport. We are preparing shoes also for other celebrities, but we will not disclose this yet. However, important for us is also the line of street, urban shoes and the retro collection, through which we remind ourselves to the people who used to enjoy our shoes.
Where will we be able to buy ZDA Partizánske shoes?
In the online store – online selling is a new stage for us. Thanks to the online store we can meet with our younger customers and we also have the opportunity to present our smaller limited collections that are really very attractive.
More information on the history and present of ZDA Partizánske – coming soon.