Runners shoes in front of city

PERFORMANCE DAYS leads towards responsible footwear materials, just like apparel before

In 2009, I was approached to co-create the Performance Fabric Forum for the Performance Days fabric fair. The forum was well-received by visitors from the start, but we spared no effort in making improvements each season. Through the focus topics and our commitment to showcasing the most sustainable fabrics in the forum, we were able to demonstrate fantastic advancements in fabric and accessories manufacturing improving constantly every six months with each show throughout the years.

One of my personal highlights is that since 2022, we have been able to show 100% recycled nylon with 7 denier and under 30g in the high-density lightweight fabrics category, while still being tear- and downproof. This was not possible a few years ago when the recycled content was around 50% or less, with the rest being virgin nylon for stability.

Some major trends that have seen continuous improvements since this year include:

Regarding synthetics:

  • Recycled polyester carbon capture yarn (from factory emissions) + bio-based - there have been great advancements in this area, and we know that PET bottles will soon no longer be available in large quantities.
  • Recycled nylon from old car tires (booming…) + bio-based + recycled PA membranes
  • New developments in polypropylene (also recycled + bio-based) + PP membranes
  • Recycled fabrics from textile waste (scraps/fibre2fibre/wear2wear) - wear2wear can become a huge success story

Regarding natural fibers, mainly cellulose-based:

  • This includes TencelTM, hemp, organic cotton, Naia spinning fibers, or their recycled equivalents, natural fibers blended with cotton, and lyocells. TencelTM is CO2-neutral, but only in its undyed versions.

I envision similar improvements for the footwear sector, for which we have also planned a dedicated forum area at the October fair.

While conceptualizing in collaboration with our experts Nina and Rucky, we encountered a few challenges, the biggest actually are the glue components, but some brands are already leading the way in approaching footwear sustainability and responsibility as best as possible. More and more suppliers focus specifically on responsibility and sustainability, and as Performance Days Fair we hope to accompany the future responsible journey for footwear materials optimally.

We are excited to showcase innovative and proven materials in the Performance Days Footwear Forum in October.

Alexa Dehmel

About the Author

Alexa Dehmel

active sports design & consulting

Alexa Dehmel is a performance sports clothing and workwear design expert with over 20 years of experience in the apparel industry. She runs her own design agency in Munich, Germany, has been the curator of functional fabrics for Performance Days and Functional Fabric Fair for over 14 years, and is a guest lecturer and journalist. She strongly believes that the future responsible way is the most valuable way to advise companies in the textile industry.


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