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Tech Event Aims to Solve Footwear’s Speed-to-Market Concerns

There are passionate discussions on technology-related buzzwords ongoing in the footwear industry and retail market, such as 3-D printing and 3-D scanning—and yet the industry is still far from mass application of these technologies. The result of this slow adoption may impede consumers from initiating and developing relationships with brands.

The industry is well aware that consumers are actively searching for more customized fitting and anatomically comfortable products, in addition to cool design. For one, the standard 10 sizes system imposes a restriction on the customers’ choices. It is not news that nowadays consumers demand higher product excellence in the footwear industry. However, only small percentages of leading footwear companies are using full digital technologies in their product creation.

“We are at an important time where new technologies will shape the future of the footwear industry,” said Natacha Alpert, founder of Miras3D Innovation and adjunct professor at Washington University.

Listening to the consumers’ needs is a key driving force to brands’ growth in market competitiveness and product innovation. In recent years, many developments have been made by technology giants and startups to provide footwear industry with resources for advancement, but the understanding and application of these tools need to be fully explained. Without a channel to explore the available resources, the industry is experiencing a lack of product evolution and slow adoption of new technologies, the lack of ability for smaller to mid-size brands to adopt innovation.

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Ultimately, the industry is missing the opportunity to serve the consumer with innovation that creates value and increase customer experience.

There are many reasons for this phenomenon. For one, brands and shoe factories often don’t have the time and resources to experiment and validate these technologies for advanced creation and manufacturing. The relationship between suppliers and brands has been one in which suppliers seek the attention of the brands and brands have little time or few channels to hear and understand the full scope of the suppliers’ innovation, hence the overall lack of industry communication and advancement.

The upcoming FMNII Footwear Innovation Summit in Los Angeles, which will be held on Oct. 2, is designed to help close the gap and facilitate connections between suppliers and brands.

“Contrary to the traditional model, brands and shoe factories will gather to listen and learn about diversified technologies from suppliers all at once,” said FMNII co-founder, James Gau. “The Summit invites innovative technology experts to provide in-depth education on the adaptation of available resources into design creation, manufacturing and retail, directly answering the consumers’ pressing concerns for individualized fitting, product excellence, future manufacturing and retail.”

The 3-D scanning technology segment of the Summit introduces solutions for individualized fit by inviting leading experts from FitStation powered by HP, Volumental and 3dMD to present a comprehensive analysis of 3D scanning from different points of view, including application of the technology into enhanced retail experience and customized designs.

This personalization discussion in turn leads to 3-D printing technology. The Summit will feature speakers addressing how to apply the technology onto individualized products for consumers, from the angle of both fashion aesthetic and medical benefits.

To achieve product excellence, two of the major keys are innovative designs and enhanced comfort. Leading visualization company Foundry, will demonstrate how brands can use the latest software to bring a design idea to life. Further, attendees will be introduced to X-Rite Pantone’s AXF files, which allows for accurate capturing of material appearance data in a single, editable, portable file format that solves one obstacle in the virtualization of products. Additionally, the Summit will cover ways to enhance comfort through biomechanics as well as new technologies like wearable sensors, 3-D printing, customized footwear and additive manufacturing.

The Summit will cover a wide range of topics focused on how to incorporate innovative technology onto footwear creation, manufacturing and retail. “The faster footwear brands and factories of all sizes can learn how to apply these technologies onto product development, providing consumers with better product selections and experience, the industry as a whole will benefit more from the collaborative advancement,” Gau said. “Speed and digitalization are the keys; being left behind in the highly competitive market will not be ideal.”

To register for the Summit, click here.

Founded by a team with decades of footwear sourcing and innovation experience, FMNII Inc. is an innovative sourcing platform, offering event and an online connecting platform. FMNII has been organizing global footwear events across Dongguan, Ho Chi Ming, New York and Portland, where industry experts educate and help brands and shoe factories better understand materials, processes and technologies for creative application and innovation inspiration. Thousands of global suppliers are in the FMNII database after a year and a half of innovative operation. Learn more at