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Performance Days Fair in Munich 2023: Accelerating the Shift Towards Sustainable Footwear

The whole of the Fashion Industry is concentrating on the subject of sustainable practice - hence the expectation is now filtering into the footwear category. Not only is there internal pressure, but consumer attention is being channeled through the marketing campaigns of some brands. Synthetic materials come in for much public criticism (Plastic-in-the-Ocean is a key worry); are there better synthetic materials? Are natural materials always the best option on performance, sustainability, & price? These conversations need to happen.

As a product manager for shoes, it is essential to stay ahead of the curve and meet the growing demand for sustainable footwear. The fashion industry has witnessed a significant shift towards eco-friendly options, and customers are actively seeking products that minimize their environmental impact. One event that stands out in addressing this need is the Performance Days Fair in Munich, scheduled for October 04-05, 2023. This renowned fair is set to launch sustainable footwear materials for the first time, providing an invaluable opportunity for product managers to explore innovative solutions and propel their supply chains towards sustainability.

Understanding Sustainable Materials:

When considering sustainable shoe materials, there are several options that can revolutionize the industry. Cork leather, wool, and hemp are three standout choices known for their eco-friendliness, durability, and comfort, making them ideal for footwear. Cork leather, derived from the bark of cork trees, is an excellent alternative to traditional leather. Its lightweight nature, water resistance, and long-lasting properties make it a practical and sustainable choice for shoes. Wool, a renewable resource, possesses natural insulation and breathability, making it an ideal material for comfortable footwear. Hemp, known for its versatility and strength, offers immense potential for creating sustainable and durable shoes.

The Appeal of Sustainable Footwear:

Incorporating sustainable materials into shoe designs can significantly differentiate brands in a crowded market. By leveraging eco-friendly ingredients, product managers can align with the preferences of environmentally-conscious customers and make a positive impact on the planet. The Performance Days Fair in Munich provides a platform to explore and showcase such materials, enabling product managers to create footwear that is both stylish and eco-friendly.

Navigating Sustainability Challenges:

While sustainability is an increasingly prominent consideration, determining the best practices in this realm can be challenging. There is often a lack of clarity on what constitutes sustainability in terms of product offerings. Moreover, longevity becomes a concern when comparing certain sustainable materials to traditional counterparts. For example, while regular leather is known for its durability, wool may not last as long in footwear. Balancing durability and sustainability remains a key challenge for product managers.

Embracing Collaboration for Progress:

Overcoming these challenges and achieving sustainability goals requires collaboration and shared expertise within the industry. The Performance Days Fair in Munich serves as a valuable platform for face-to-face conversations with stakeholders, including component suppliers. Engaging in dialogue and building vertical relationships within the supply chain can accelerate the adoption of best practices. Shared projects and collaborative initiatives can facilitate knowledge exchange, spread development costs, and foster innovation in sustainable footwear.

Performance Days Fair: A Catalyst for Change:

The Performance Days Fair, renowned for its influence on the sourcing of clothing materials, is now extending its offerings to include everything related to footwear. This expansion presents a significant opportunity for the footwear industry to enhance its sustainability practices. The fair showcases materials that offer more responsible solutions than the market norm, and an International Jury evaluates submissions for inclusion in the central Performance Forum. In addition to the Performance Forum, the fair features a Presentation Stage that hosts conversations, panels, and product launches, providing a platform for industry experts to discuss sustainable footwear practices. Other attractions include the The Loop, an online marketplace were all products for footwear can be seen and ordered, Sustainability Lounge, Expert Talk Area, and more, fostering an environment of knowledge sharing and innovation.


The whole of the Fashion Industry is now focusing on sustainable practices, and this trend is permeating the footwear category. With consumer attention and internal pressure, product managers must meet the growing demand for sustainable footwear. The Performance Days Fair in Munich, scheduled for 04-05 October 2023, offers a unique opportunity to explore and embrace sustainable materials for shoes. By incorporating eco-friendly alternatives such as cork leather, wool, and hemp, product managers can align with the preferences of environmentally-conscious customers and contribute to reducing their environmental impact. Attending this fair and engaging in collaborative efforts can accelerate the transition towards sustainable practices, enabling the industry to offer more responsible and long-lasting footwear options.

Claus Habbicht

About the Author

Claus Habbicht


In 2005, he founded his own garment consulting agency for Asian manufacturers. As a service provider, he works with active sports brands for skiing, outdoor, running, fitness, team sports, corporate fashion, and workwear brands. He is a founding member of PERFORMANCE DAYS and supports the PERFORMANCE FORUM Jury since 2009. His focus is on the processing of the materials.

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