Shifting Tides at Performance Days: Footwear Industry Steps up Responsibility in Sourcing

As the eagerly anticipated Performance Days Functional Footwear Fair approaches, industry insiders and enthusiasts are gearing up for a revolutionary shift in the way footwear manufacturers approach ingredient sourcing. Scheduled to take place both in Munich and online from March 4-5, this year’s event will spotlight a key theme: the burgeoning responsibility trend that is echoing the path paved by the apparel industry.

Charles Ross, a distinguished lecturer in performance sportswear design at London’s prestigious Royal College of Art, is teaming up with the Performance Days team to address this critical transition. Ross emphasizes that while aesthetics and pricing have long been the primary drivers of consumer decisions, a transformation is underway.

“The traditional model of buyer behavior for clothing follows a clear funnel,” Ross explains. “The garment’s appearance initially takes precedence, followed by pricing considerations. If those aspects align, then factors like fit and material claims come into play. Only when these initial measurements fail to yield a clear choice do other considerations, such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and eco-friendliness, enter the equation.”

However, Ross asserts that change is on the horizon, and it’s being spearheaded by none other than Generation Z – the demographic cohort born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s. Ross predicts that by the end of the decade, Gen Z will wield significant purchasing power and will wield it in pursuit of their distinctive values.

“Gen Z is unique in their preferences. They’re not just concerned with appearance; they want their choices to mirror their moral compass,” Ross states. “Living in rented accommodations and not weighed down by financial debt, they seek brands that align with their ethics. It’s not merely about what a company says; it’s about what they do. Brands that genuinely do good, rather than just paying lip service to it, hold a special place in their selection process.”

This paradigm shift towards conscious consumerism is set to reshape the footwear industry’s landscape. Manufacturers are being prompted to reevaluate their ingredient sourcing strategies, pushing for greater sustainability, transparency, and ethical practices. As Gen Z takes center stage, companies that prioritize eco-friendly initiatives and social responsibility will find themselves in the spotlight, while those clinging to outdated models may find themselves struggling to keep pace with the evolving market.

The upcoming Performance Days Functional Footwear Fair promises to be a pivotal moment where the industry’s stalwarts and newcomers alike converge to discuss and explore these transformative shifts. As the curtain rises on this event, the footwear world stands on the cusp of a new era, driven by the principles of sustainability.


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