As explained during Porto UITIC congress, to give answers to these new challenges the Portuguese firms, authorities and research institutes and partners all over the world, have congregate efforts to innovate in the fields of materials, products, technologies and business models.
The conversion of animal hides into leather recycles an organic waste from the meat industry and creates valuable products, such as footwear, that meet consumer’s requirements in terms of health, comfort and fashion. Many methodologies and systems have been studied and implemented in the last decades, which allow leather production to be sustainable and resulted in new Portuguese leathers and shoes that are compostable closing the material life cycle, lighter or metals free.
The industry is also pursuing trends like vegan and developing innovative renewable bio-based materials shoes. Man-made materials are also used, namely microfibers with compositions tuned to answer to new requirements, like customisable shoes enabled by digital printing, resulting in the use of less dyes, water and energy.
Technology to support a more agile and efficient production is a top priority. In the Portuguese high-speed shoe factory project, the 4 traditional manufacturing sections are integrated in a single productive phase supported by a Fly London® brand e-store, new CEI by ZIPOR® cutting system and Flowmat® internal logistics.
New technologies development and use extends to retail, either physical or online. New Inovretail® APPs support consumer´s and retail and allow the retailer to know which products attracted the attention and were not taken, using this information to a more sustainable managing. Digital connection with the producers will benefit all the value chain. More and more desired products will be developed and produced minimizing stocks, promotions and wastes.
A complementary topic is recycling, including CTCP works on shoes upper part materials and bottom material wastes grinding and addition to rubber to make new soles or floors.
These developments continue in the frame of private, EU and National founded projects like FAMEST coordinated by CTCP. This project mobilizes the whole Portuguese Footwear Cluster aiming to research, develop and create: new materials, footwear components and advanced technologies, new concepts of fashion, technical, customized, personalized and work footwear, economically competitive, incorporating synergistically the developed materials, produced and commercialized by sustainable digital flexible technologies and business models, and solutions to minimise and valorise the waste materials generated during the Cluster industries productive phase and used products.
Text by: Maria José Ferreira