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Shoes

My Take | November 14, 2022 | By: Janet Preus

In the world of apparel, there is nothing to compare to shoes. Some people have one pair and wear them every single day. Others have a closet full—one for every occasion and outfit. Most of us fall somewhere in between, but we all have strong opinions about shoes, and you can’t argue with me on that one. We either care deeply about how they look, or we refuse to wear anything that isn’t as supportive as an exoskeleton and as comfortable as a pair of fuzzy slippers. Comfort. It always comes down to comfort, which is fit. And materials, and surface treatment of the materials, and, of course, design. And many other important considerations. 

The latest of which is sustainability. Customers for athletic shoes in particular, which may be the least sustainable, historically, are beginning to care about one more thing. How do my running shoes impact the environment? I know I’m right about this because I am posting stories about shoes manufactured more sustainably on an increasingly regular basis, and I’m not even running all the ones I know about, because this website is about more than just shoes. 

But, I see this as good news. It definitely stands to benefit the textile industry, anybody who cares about the environment, and potentially anybody who wears shoes.

In this issue, you’ll find a new pair of shoes for bike racing, but the real story is the process used to make them. Look for Orbital Composites’ partnership with Lore in the feature “Commercialization progress.” Covestro’s partially biobased coating was used for durability, and HUAFENG’s HAPTIC® printing technology on recycled PET fabrics, to make an another type of athletic shoe. Just two very recent examples. 

Ultimately, these innovations are likely to find other applications in the textile world. Water-based technologies for textile treatments, recycled materials that perform as well as virgin, bio-based materials and other new technologies are poised to change how we shop for shoes, but the long-term effects could be much more far-reaching than what we wear on our feet. 

Janet Preus is senior editor of Textile Technology Source. She can be reached at janet.preus@textiles.org.

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