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Multifunctional, versatile and comfortable: this is the trainer for the AW21-22 season for men and women and it comes in five different styles, identified by the WGSN analysis conducted for Expo Riva Schuh.                                               

The consumer has emerged from the pandemic embracing a new mentality and new values, to which the trainer world must respond effectively by reshaping its offer. The new desire to be outdoors after so many months at home, the demand for products that combine functionality and flexibility of use, and a heightened awareness of sustainability, all play a decisive role in the way future trainers are designed.

Key factors such as multi-functionality and modularity come into play in the design, resulting in multi-purpose, protective products suitable for multiple occasions.

Brands must also demonstrate to consumers their commitment to the environment by offering circular solutions and expanding the range of outdoor products, to satisfy the renewed desire to be outdoors and in nature.

But how will these ideas be reflected in the AW21-22 season according to WGSN? The trend analysts of this fashion forecasting company have identified five styles for the post-pandemic trainer.

The Circular Running responds to the desire for sustainability with circular design, where technological evolution allows the democratisation of materials and programmes, favouring a better product life cycle. There is a focus on recycled, end-of-life recyclable or biodegradable materials for the upper, on bio-plastics and plant-based materials for the soles. It is all about adopting a basic design that will stand the test of time, resulting in durable products. Its uses range from running to athleisure, from training to urban travel and sport fashion.

Modular design and a protective approach characterise the Open Road Sneaker: a shoe that can transform its style and multiply its occasions of use, for example by transforming itself from a slip-on shoe to a trainer, a boot, or by adding removable cuffs. Functionality must respond to outdoor needs with technical, high-performance materials, for uses ranging from hiking and the great outdoors to athleisure and fashion sport.

In response to the booming demand for outdoor use, the Tough Terrain Runner offers multifunctional solutions, capable of responding to all weather conditions with technical, protective and waterproof materials that are also sustainable. The design has to rely on mono-material solutions for the uppers to reduce production waste, and water-based TPU to reinforce toe caps and counters. These are functional trainers suitable for the outdoors and for active lifestyles.

The desire to reconnect with nature inspires a style with a joyful aesthetic, creating a sense of energy and optimism through the use bright colours and a mix of recycled and reclaimed technological materials that create contrasting panels. Thus the Joyous Hiker is ideal for hiking and outdoor activities, athleisure and even sports fashion, and its design incorporates technological solutions for the construction of the soles as well as for the protection and comfort elements of the shoe.

Digital design and creativity come together in the Future Form Sneaker, which responds to the need to escape from the monotonous reality of the pandemic months with futuristic, lunar shapes, iridescent surfaces, outer space metals and dark tones. The aesthetic is minimalist, based on playful overlapping of materials and cuts, and can also be expressed by exploring the potential of 3D printing technology to reduce waste and push forward the boundaries of sole design. Its application points towards the concepts of athluxury wear, sports fashion and athleisure.

A final consideration concerns the transversal trend to build increasingly genderless trainers, suitable from a male and a female perspective.