Some 62,000 industry professionals from 140 countries gathered in Düsseldorf to visit what is undoubtedly confirmed as the most important international event for the Safety sector. The A+A fair, which has 2,200 exhibitors spread over more than 80 thousand square meters of exhibition space, returned to touch a customer satisfaction level of 96.4 percent, definitely leaving behind the wounds of Covid.
There were many innovations capable of attracting so many visitors. We will mention only a few of them, those that we feel may hint at the trends toward which the industry is moving most decisively.
Let’s start with the world of soles, not coincidentally called the structure of a shoe, the crucial part that decides the performance level of a shoe.
Finproject’s XL Extralight sole, already well known in the fashion world for its extreme lightness, has been made in a Safety version, adapting perfectly to the level of performance required by the sector: resistance to oils and hydrocarbons and excellent response to physical-mechanical stresses, such as resistance to abrasion and breakage.
An innovative EVA-based product – traditionally not usable, due to its fragility, in the safety sector, which usually prefers rubber or other types of polyurethanes – now offers its incredible lightweight qualities to the Work & Safety sector as well.
“The way is mapped out for a new product category – says Mirko Barchetta, Footwear Sales Director at Finproject. – We have won the challenge of providing even EVA (a very light material, but not particularly resistant) with those durability characteristics required for application in the world of Work, obviously certified by all the most important laboratories at the international level.”
Today, therefore, a wide variety of EVA formulations will be available on the safety market: from life-duty to medium-duty, to compounds that allow dual-color and/or bi-density.
Some brands are already going down this path, adopting Finproject’s EVA bottoms: in Italy Cofra and Exena, for example, while in the United States Reebok and Red Wing. In Europe Helly Hansen, Perf and Panther, to name but a few.
Very interesting soles also at Jeep Footwear. Structures made by 3D printing whose goal is to ensure the highest degree of comfort even in safety footwear. The models are being launched in two versions, one equipped with mid-plate and toe cap, the other without toe cap and to be joined later by women’s lines.
Explains Nino Capodivento:
We used the concept of 4D to emphasize the importance of the comfort dimension that we want to guarantee with this sole. We can go so far as to print soles that take into account the morphological characteristics of the user to ensure personalized comfort, at the level of the best technical sports footwear.
After all, those who work, perhaps standing for 10 consecutive hours, deserve the best level of comfort a shoe can offer them. So, by applying a different density to the mesh, Jeep Footwear made it possible to ensure different absorption and energy return based on body weight.
We didn’t want to make a sole that looked good and attracted attention (although that did happen), but a sole that was innovative in terms of the comfort of the foot and in general the posture of the wearerNino Capodivento
Michelin has also focused on comfort, to which it has added special attention to style that increasingly takes inspiration from outdoor models, thus ensuring not only optimal safety and proper comfort, but also an appealing look that is increasingly sought after by workers around the world.
This kind of operation is easily exemplified in the Solid Gear Revolution 2 GTX High, which aims to push the boundaries of safety boots. A winter model that provides cushioning and comfort during long hours of walking, and maintains its natural softness even in cold temperatures, thus allowing for better contact with the ground. The combination of the TPU midsole with the Michelin lightweight rubber outsole provides outstanding traction and grip in winter conditions along with good flexibility.
Among the most interesting, and in some ways curious, novelties seen at the fair was also the debut of Pantofola D’Oro, which presented its first collection dedicated to Duty.
Here, too, it is clear that the trend of making work shoes that are increasingly ‘beautiful’ and with attention to detail, as well as safe, is undoubtedly in vogue.
Pantofola D’Oro’s first outing in the safety world features a few made-in-Italy models that are characterized by great attention to design and detail, while maintaining competitive yet above-average prices. Shoes destined for a niche market? Not necessarily given workers’ growing interest in footwear that protects them, but with a touch of class.
The other major theme to consider is sustainability, which now cuts across every industry and product.
Focused on the issue was Accoppiatura Vigevanese, which, since 1977, has been making adhesive and thermoadhesive coatings, laminations with polyurethane foams, technical fabrics, “non-wovens,” needle punched and many other types of materials.
Today, the Italian company’s focus is very much on choosing recycled and GRS-certified materials to make fabrics that are still able to meet the high tenacity technical requirements of the Safety world.
But the environment is also on the mind of those working upstream in the supply chain, those who think up and implement the technologies that enable them to produce their collections more and more efficiently.
Like Green Solutions – the new company that combines the experience in the mechano-footwear world of Main Group Technologies with the technological know-how of Pegaso Industries.
The new Green Solutions – branded plants are designed on the basis of three key principles: sustainability, thanks to technologies that allow efficient recovery of production waste; traceability, with software that allows complete control of the raw material and finished product; automation, as an indispensable tool for maximizing process efficiency, reducing time and waste
A smart way to not only imagine but begin to realize the factory of the future.
Comfort, aesthetics and sustainability, these are the key words to keep in mind if one wants to approach the world of safety footwear in the coming 2024.
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