The Coronavirus pandemic is leaving a long trail of financial challenges behind which the world will have to face over the coming years. This trail will be guided by new values, to which design will also be obliged to adapt: both brands and consumers will find themselves having to grasp the fragility of the future, with materials being at the forefront of necessity if they are to satisfy the increasing demand for comfort, protection and reassurance. An impact such as this will open a new perspective when it comes to consumer habits and will see the development of new customer priorities, including the trend to opt for “Made in Nature”. The demand for sustainable products and components inspired by and made with nature will increase. This vortex will inevitably involve footwear, especially sneakers, which have already become an essential item in every woman’s wardrobe.
Customers will be looking for a closer bond with their product and materials will have to provide a sense of protection that is both physical and visual. Spring/Summer ‘22 will see a shift towards expressive, handcrafted techniques, while consumers will explore the pleasure that can be derived from creativity. There will be an increase in more exuberant designs, celebrating global handicrafts, whilst restorative colours and themes will offer a sense of reassurance. Biomaterials and technological progress will lead innovation, whereas brands and consumers alike will be looking increasingly for solutions to climate change too. The quest for biodegradability, circularity and renewable resources will be fundamental (with the use of recycled polyester and PET being amongst the sustainable alternatives), while antiviral and antimicrobial protective fibres will reach new levels of demand. There will be soles made out of organic grain seeds, seaweed will be adopted as a precious, natural material along with sand sediment finishes; furthermore, components that reduce waste will prosper.
In the post-Coronavirus world, those products that inspire intimacy with their consumers will take on greater relevance and comforting softness will be a key trend for Spring/Summer ’22. More and more, consumers will be looking for tactile, cosy products, which not only adapt to the unexpected, such as nylon, but also offer resistance and charm.
The approach adopted towards purchasing will often be very limited, and multi-functional cross-season products will be essential. Rubber will continue to be a key product, thanks to its resistant and protective qualities, which also make it ideal in extreme weather conditions. In an era where part of our lives is conducted online, the importance of materials that offer digital charm will be key: pearlescent finishes will leap out of the screen giving consumers the comfort they are looking for. But the order of the day for Spring/Summer ’22 will be ‘sustainability’, with all attention focused on eco-compatible fibres and responsibly-sourced products, with an increasing interest in raffia fibres and raw, essential materials. And last but not least, foam will also be of importance, used on the tongues as well as the uppers of sneakers, to create ergonomic shape whilst offering comfort and softness, both visual and physical.