In The Market

Long Live Footwear

NNORMAL/TOMIR SAND TRAIL: This waterproof shoe is lightweight, responsive and grips the foot in a natural, yet cushioned way. Now available in a new color, called Sand, the shoe is named for Puig Tomir, a 1,103-meter-high mountain in Serra de Tramuntana in Mallorca.

Maybe it’s the cross-category appeal, or that the concept is easily relatable on a personal as well as product level, but “longevity” is this year’s “it” word. Training for longevity is trending in fitness with low-intensity and mobility-focused workouts on the rise. This style of exercise is outpacing cardio by prioritizing prevention with strength building and improving balance. And products designed for this emerging category are trending too. H&M debuted a Movement Gear collection, with Jane Fonda as spokesperson, and hardgoods such as under-desk treadmills and walking pads for standing desks are strong sellers with a younger crowd looking to walk a marathon while “at work.”

Walking is a natural fit for low-impact, longevity seekers. According to a 2022 poll by Statista, the number of people who walked for fitness in the U.S. increased for the fifth consecutive year in 2021, reaching 115.8M. Likewise, hiking participation is also on an upswing. Recent surveys reveal that 74 percent of Americans hike on a trail and 19 percent of Americans hike on a trail regularly (more than once per month). 

Another factor giving longevity a boost is sustainability. Companies from a range of industries have recently latched on to “longevity” as a more relatable substitute for sustainability, a term often cited as lacking clarity. Within the textile sector, and this season especially, longevity not only goes hand in hand with eco-made but also calls to mind long-lasting durability.

Further, longevity segues seamlessly into conversations around recycling and circularity. To “extend the life” of a product via a brand’s takeback program is one example; incorporating recycled materials in product design is another. Beth Goldstein, a footwear and accessories analyst at The NPD Group reports seeing growth potential in takeback programs as customers grow increasingly concerned about the environment. “I definitely think that we’re going to see more here,” stated Goldstein. 

Footwear makers’ latest looks  are on the mark. Keen’s new walking shoe features KEEN.CURVE technology that creates a unique feeling of forward momentum that makes walking “feel like rolling.”  VEJA debuts the Fitz Roy, a durable, technical hiking shoe made with a blend of eco-friendly textiles. Recent offerings from Salomon and NNormal highlight advances both in product and programs focused on keeping footwear in circulation longer. 

The use of bio-based and recycled textiles in addition to applications of PFC-free DWR treatments are now available. New construction techniques are also being employed for recyclability of the entire shoe, essentially giving the footwear a second life. 

Salomon is all in on this race to recycle and reduce environmental impact. The new INDEX.02 model is designed for disassembly when no longer useful, an approach that greatly aids the recycling process. According to the company,  there is even a subtle line along the shoe showing where it will be split when it is recycled. 

Kilian Jornet, a renowned mountaineer and trail runner, partnered with Camper to launch NNormal and recently has broadened its sustainability commitment with No Trace, a take back program that accepts any brand, and any condition and will repair or recycle the shoe for further use – and provide information on what the company did with the old gear.

SALOMON/INDEX .02: Salomon’s second recyclable running shoe is 10 percent lighter (263 grams) than its predecessor and features improvements in the midsole geometry, foam quality and upper construction for enhanced comfort and performance. A QR code on the tongue of one shoe can be scanned, to register the shoe for return to be recycled into materials used in the construction of Salomon alpine ski boots.   

KEEN/WK400: The design combines constant curve geometry, underfoot plate technology, and a high-energy midsole for forward momentum. A 30mm toe spring delivers an easy transition from heel strike through to toe off. Available in four colors across men’s- and women’s-specific fits.

VEJA/FITZ ROY: The hiker is made with 43 percent of the material being bio-based and recycled. Produced in Brazil, the Fitz Roy previews a new Trek-Shell upper material, made with 100 percent recycled polyester treated with a PFC-free durable water repellent, and  features a rocker shape and rock plate made from 53 percent sugar cane.