2024-06-17
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Performances tales

U-Power: safety footwear in step with contemporary fashion

U-Power's incredible story in the context of the "workwear" trend: a limitless influence of style and materials in workwear

U-Power: safety footwear in step with contemporary fashion
Photo credit: U-Power Instagram

In a previous article, we examined the trend of the safety footwear market, noting significant growth. Safety at work is an essential priority in every professional context and safety footwear plays a crucial role in protecting workers from possible risks.

Let’s do a brief recap on the elements that characterize safety shoes:

In various work environments, the threat of injuries caused by falling or heavy objects is always present, which is why safety shoes often boast a reinforced toe, aimed at shielding the foot from impacts and compressions. In addition, the presence of sturdy, non-slip soles helps to ensure a stable grip on work surfaces, reducing the risk of slipping.

A further distinctive element of safety footwear is its flexibility to adapt to various working conditions. Depending on the industry, these footwear can be designed to withstand chemicals, oils, extreme temperatures, or even to provide protection against electrical hazards.

In many business settings, the use of safety footwear is mandatory, in line with regulations that require compliance with these precautions based on the nature of the work performed.

In addition to safety aspects, they are designed to ensure maximum comfort. Considering that those who wear safety shoes have a job where they spend most of the day up, an ergonomic design aims to prevent fatigue and discomfort.

Are you curious to learn more about the subject? Do it by reading our dedicated article, we also have one dedicated to the female world!

In recent years, safety footwear has benefited from technological advancement and more modern design. Lightweight, breathable materials are becoming more common, improving comfort without compromising safety. In addition, the fashionable design of many safety footwear proves that occupational safety can be harmonized with the style and personality of workers, as is the case with the renowned international brand U-Power.

Who is U-Power?

U-Power is a success story!

Italian brand specialized in the production of footwear and workwear. According to the study conducted by Euromonitor, U-Power is the absolute European leader in the production and distribution of safety footwear.

It was founded in 2006 but the company’s roots are much more solid and deeply linked  to the history of the founder, Pier Franco Uzzeni, who in the seventies took over the family business leading it to become a world leader in the production of safety footwear, before selling it to a private equity fund at the beginning of the 2000s. Let’s take a closer look at the incredible history of this brand

U-Power: from the 90s to today

It all began in 1950, when Pier Franco Uzzeni’s father founded Almar in a small town in the province of Novara. Initially specializing in the production of ultra-comfortable footwear for brands such as Puma and Adidas, the company later transformed under the leadership of P.F. Uzzeni.

After acquiring the family business, Uzzeni focused his production on work shoes, registering  the Aimont brand in the early 2000s. Subsequently, he sold Almar to the private equity group “CVC Capital Partner” which in that year owned “Jallatte” and thus merged the two giants giving rise to “JAL Group“, and Uzzeni remained at the helm for the next 5 years.

After leaving the JAL Group, Uzzeni founded U-Invest, combines the main assets and brands of the JAL Group which include the Jallatte, Aimont and Lupos Brands and  focuses on the production, distribution and marketing of safety shoes under the U-Power brand. The Red Lion collection, launched in 2017, consolidated the brand and in 2019 it is positioned as a leader in the European safety footwear market.

The footwear in this collection is particularly appreciated by customers for its ability to respond to a concept of “freedom of movement”. The distinguishing feature of the Red Lion is the technology used: BASF’s Infinergy, accompanied by a high-grip tread.

U-Power | shoestechnologies
U-Power safety shoes from the Red Lion line
Photo credit: U-Power website

This technology is able to improve cushioning, transforming it from traditional to dynamic by lightening the stride and increasing the energy in making the dynamic movement of the foot. The 0.68 high-grip tread, on the other hand, helps to avoid any injuries and malfunctions of the musculoskeletal system that can affect workers in ways and times that are difficult to predict, thanks to a truly safe grip.

It’s the right shoe to recover energy!  

In 2018, the Group expanded the strategy by introducing workwear lines and implementing a strong brand awareness strategy through media, digital marketing and sponsorships of football teams.

What distinguishes U-Power is the ability to offer products intended for safety at work that can also be used outside this context. With attractive designs, advanced technology and maximum comfort, U-Power products become an option not only during working hours, but also for informal occasions such as an aperitif at the bar or a walk on Sunday afternoon. The clear identifiability of the brand, starting with the logo, without compromising on quality and comfort, underlines the well-being of the worker who wears U-Power.

The three values on which the company’s communication strategy is based – fashion, cool and worker well-being – are a strong point, supported by significant investments in advertising campaigns with prominent testimonials.  

Let’s find out together the strategy adopted and the elements that have made them recognizable even in the digital world.

Communication is one of U-Power’s strengths

Since 2017, the brand has focused on communicating its values through advertising campaigns in Italy, France and Spain. Substantial investments in communication include numerous prime-time TV commercials that accompany the sale of U-Power products, generating interest in the brand’s new products. In addition to actors Gerard Butler and John Travolta, who have been advertising the brand since 2020 and continue to do so today, U-Power also collaborates with personalities such as Charles Leclerc and Diletta Leotta.  

The presence in the world of football, with sponsorships for teams such as Atalanta, Monza and Inter, and the broadcasting of commercials during matches,reflects U-Power’s desire to reach a wide audience, especially men, which is the main target of its products. Internationally, the commercials are also broadcast during the interludes of rugby matches.

The goal is to reach an audience that is not only interested in safety shoes, but also those who would wear them in everyday life. The aim is to make U-Power a brand known by all, associated not only with technology or workplaces, but also with everyday life and the most mundane contexts.

U-Power: From Factory Products to Fashion Items

Workwear is experiencing a revolution, successfully entering the world of high fashion. In recent years, the trend of workwear has developed within European culture and creativity, with the use of technical garments in everyday life. But this trend has actually always been there: just think of denim jeans, a fashionable garment used by everyone, which were worn in the 1800s when in the  California of the Gold Rush miners and gold diggers needed to wear garments that were very resistant to tears and cuts.

Workwear brands themselves are also adopting innovative strategies to expand the reach of workwear beyond industry professionals.

U-Power is one of these brands that aims to transform its products into real fashion objects. To achieve this, the company has embarked on an innovative collaboration with Magliano, which goes beyond traditional schemes. This collaboration was born with the intention of celebrating the modern hero: the worker and his labors, thus helping to redefine the perception of workwear in contemporary society.

U-Power x Magliano

U-Power’s collaboration with Magliano was presented during FW23 and led to a reinterpretation of the classic “Scandy” model, transforming it into a mary jane with cuts and side rips.

U-Power | shoestechnologies
U-Power x Magliano, “Scandy” model shoes
Photo credit: Magliano instagram

The collection offers three color variants to suit everyone’s tastes: multicolor (lilac-silver-green) for shoes that express joy, brown tones with a bright yellow interior for a bolder touch, and total black with contrasting fluorescent green stitching for the more classic. Each pair of shoes retains the typical iron toe of safety footwear.

The shots of the advertising campaign invite lightness, as U-Power’s motto says ‘Don’t worry, be happy’. The forklift, a monolithic symbol of the place where U-Power lives, the factory/warehouse, becomes a symbol of fun between a cigarette break and a sexy moment between two men.

This approach has redefined the aesthetics of the work shoe, breaking male stereotypes and embracing a queer aesthetic through an innovative advertising campaign, imbued with a message that goes far beyond the concept of functionality, taken as a manifesto for those who wear them, bearers of a political message.

But who is Magliano?

Magliano stands out as one of the most promising talents among the young Italian designers of the new generation. Born in ’87 and originally from Bologna, he founded his eponymous brand in 2017. In the same year he was the winner of the Who is on Next competition, the prize dedicated to emerging talents, and the following year he arrived at Pitti Uomo where he was recently selected as a guest designer for the January 2024 edition.

Her creative strength lies in her ability to deal with real stories, such as issues related to the working-class world, through the use of soft lines and poor fabrics. Magliano also stands out for its ability to shape in an original way the cultural and social canons commonly associated with Italian fashion.

The FW23 collection is a heartfelt tribute to the world of work and utility wear, which takes shape in the collaboration with U-power.

In short, workwear and the world of fashion influence each other, creating a continuous exchange of styles and materials. This interaction between sectors outlines and narrates the transformations of society, a process destined to persist over time and which is designed around us.

And you, would you buy safety shoes to use in your daily life? Or rather, would you buy U-Power shoes?

You may also be interested in the following articles:

Repair | Red Wing Shoes | shoestechnologies

Repair, repair and repair… even in the Safety field

The world of personal protective equipment, from clothing to footwear, is also exploring the concept of repair.

Safety footwear focuses on comfort and sustainability

Safety footwear focuses on comfort and sustainability

Many innovations were presented at the A+A fair in Dusseldorf, from ultra-light or hyper-comfortable soles to environmentally conscious production systems.

"Working is not dying," here's why the safety footwear market is growing

“Working is not dying,” here’s why the safety footwear market is growing

Still so many deaths at work, but perhaps something is changing if the safety footwear market is expected to grow 7.4 percent per year internationally, driven particularly by the U.S., China and Asia-Pacific.

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