Smart shoes. Technologies and materials in the shoe industry
03.04.2018 37220

Smart shoes. Technologies and materials in the shoe industry

Today, almost all Russian and foreign manufacturers, unless they work in the segment of expensive elegant women's shoes, in the portfolio of collections there are sure to be “frost-resistant”, “moisture-proof”, “windproof”, “dirty-dirty” - in short, not burning, in water does not sink shoes, boots, shoes, ankle boots, slip-on shoes, sneakers, sneakers, loafers and other types of shoes. At the same time, such shoes now look modern, elegant and very fashionable, they are light and very comfortable to wear.
It has, perhaps, only one significant disadvantage - its high cost. The main part of the cost of innovative footwear consists of expensive materials and licenses for the use of patented technologies, which, as a rule, do not have footwear themselves, and therefore they buy from developers - diversified companies, holdings specializing in innovative materials and technologies. The leaders of this market are the largest manufacturers of sportswear and footwear, WL GORE & Associates, DuPont, GEOX Breathes and others.

Breathable shoes and knit sneakers

Most of our days our legs are in a closed, enclosed space - that is, in shoes. And no matter how wonderful, soft and comfortable she is, it is still better without her. But since this is impossible in modern life, we cannot refuse shoes.

If the footwear is of high quality, made of genuine leather, matched in size and with a comfortable shoe, there is little discomfort from it, the legs, as they say, sleep, rest in it. The only problem that for a very long time the designers and technologists could not solve was that the legs were sweating and not breathing. This was especially felt during hikes, during long walks, with great physical exertion. Basically, surveys show that only two things spoil the hiking experience: bad weather and unsuitable shoes. Science has helped solve this problem. The world's first breathable waterproof GORE-TEX boots with SURROUND technology appeared on the market - a total of more than 200 models in the collections of 29 partner brands (Lowa, Salewa, Ecco, Hanwag, La Sportiva, Mammut, Meindl, Scarpa, and also brand-new brands - Italian Aku, Asolo and Garmont, Norwegian Viking, American Kamik). One of the highlights of the 2016 season will be the world's first knitted X-SO Wave GTX sneakers with GORE-TEX SURROUND technology from Meindl for men and women. The manufacturer calls this model "knitted boots", but it is still sneakers, the knit in combination with the seamless construction in the forefoot provides more flexibility and comfort to the model. An innovative lacing system that reaches down to the sole provides the foot with the necessary support and stability.

GORE-TEX SURROUND footwear is the latest innovation to maintain a comfortable foot environment and protect against bad weather. The main distinguishing features are long-lasting waterproofness and breathable ability. The shoe breathes from all sides, including the sole, due to the waterproof, “breathing” GORE-TEX membrane, fully covering the foot, integrated in the shoe. Between the foot and the sole is provided "laying" with an open design. Sweat passes through the membrane and enters the open construction of the “gasket”, and from there it is discharged through the lateral openings in the sole. As a result, corns and scuffs appearing on sweaty or hot legs during long trips are excluded. This technology has been successfully adapted by manufacturers for everyday and children's shoes. But here the technical solution looks a little different: excess moisture and heat are removed directly through the holes in the sole down or, as with Ecco, sideways. 17 partner brands offer GORE-TEX SURROUND shoes for every day in their collections (Lowa, Salewa, Viking and others).

WL GORE & Associates are not the only ones who have unique technologies that make shoes "breathable". So, the Italian brand GEOX uses its own developments in the manufacture of shoes, which help to reduce overheating of the feet: in winter, the feet remain warm, in summer they are cool and always dry. One of the patented technologies - GEOX AMPHIBIOX, is a special micro-porous moisture-proof membrane installed in a rubber sole. It protects against rain and snow, improves the breathability of the shoe, providing natural thermoregulation. An interesting fact: in 2012, in order to demonstrate the quality and high level of waterproofness, shoes with soles, which used the AMPHIBIOX membrane, were tested for durability in the rainiest place on the planet - the Cherrapunji region (India). The footwear was successfully tested and then, in 2013, the manufacturer decided to test it in ordinary urban conditions: "created rain" made it so that a person lived in continuous rain for 7 days. And this time the footwear withstood the extreme moisture load.

Another patented technology - GEOX NEBULA - provides shoes with lightness and breathability. A special inner lining with air pockets creates an empty space between the foot and the top of the shoe, while excess heat is removed upward. The technology provides removal of excess heat, optimal cushioning and flexibility of the sole, protection against slipping (due to a combination of rubbers and a specially modeled capsular sole). In general, the innovative shape of the sole (flat under the heel and spherical in other places), providing stability - the pride of the brand.

All the best for children

In the children's segment, new technologies are especially in demand. Children are constantly looking for adventure, their legs are always in motion. Parents try to choose the most functional and high-quality shoes for their boys and girls. On the other hand, all parents know well: for a child to wear shoes with pleasure, it must be not only functional, but bright, beautiful, it must be liked by a boy or girl by design.

The most important criteria for modern children's shoes are quality, comfort, natural materials. Therefore, the developers of children's models have a difficult task: to create a beautiful, fashionable model, but at the same time one in which the children’s legs feel comfortable for a very long time, outdoors and indoors. Various tricks are used for this, one of them is an innovative sole with SURROUND technology - using a multilayer material based on a waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX membrane. It contains 1, 4 billion micropores per 1 sq. see. These pores in 20 000 times smaller than water droplets, but 700 times larger than water vapor molecules. The membrane surrounds the children's foot, allowing excess heat and sweat to pass through the holes in the sole with an innovative structure and preventing the penetration of moisture from the outside. Buyers themselves can determine the presence of this technology in shoes: if there are holes in the structure of the sole, this clearly indicates that this shoe is breathing. GORE-TEX partners create models of a wide variety of styles and colors, and now use a “breathable” sole as a design element. Such functional children's shoes, which are always warm and dry, can be found in such children's brands as Primigi and Superfit.

Children's brands actively collaborate with the medical community and develop their own technologies. Thus, the Austrian brand Superfit constantly works with orthopedic doctors and European institutes of orthopedics, as a result of which they developed their own technologies such as a shock-absorbing heel pad that prevents a small child from falling backwards, an extended back for reliable fixation of the foot, a reinforced side of the boot, and a wide toe the part that does not deform and does not squeeze children's fingers. In children's shoes for winter, details are very important - so that the sole does not slip, so that the lacing is anatomically correct, tightly pressing the shoes to the foot, but not very tight. This winter, the brand relied on practicality: when creating models of the winter collection, water-repellent genuine leather and suede, microfiber, polyester were used - materials that help preserve the appearance of the shoe, making it more durable and easy to care for.

Also important is the material from which children's shoes are made. Many manufacturers of children's shoes today use leather softened without chrome in production. Serious manufacturers themselves check the used materials for toxicity and are not afraid to give their shoes for research to third-party regulatory organizations. If the shoe has been tested for harmful substances, it should be marked “non-toxic”, or information on compliance with environmental standards will be in the certificate, instructions, on the manufacturer’s website. Many manufacturers produce special eco-lines or shoe collections with a “green” label.

This article was published in the 132 issue of the print version of the magazine.

Today, almost all Russian and foreign manufacturers, unless they work in the segment of expensive elegant women's shoes, will definitely find “frost-resistant” in their collection portfolio ...
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