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Footwear Material Trends Will Nod to Space Exploration and Urban Country Living

The world is a mysterious place and future footwear products will reflect consumers’ desires to discover the unknown.

That’s at least the message from Jennifer Karuletwa, senior trend and business consultant for Peclers Paris, a global trend forecasting and product development firm. During a presentation called “Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone” at The Materials Show in Portland, Oregon Wednesday, Karuletwa presented socio-cultural trends and creative concepts that will influence design for the next three to five years.

Trends are directed by consumers’ quest for identity and self-authenticity, their desire to rekindle relationships with nature, their mistrust of news and the acceptance of dark feelings—even if darkness doesn’t paint the prettiest picture on social media.

“We have the tools to make ourselves into what we want to be, but people are exhausted in trying to change themselves and just want to be,” Karuletwa said.

As people grow tired of “keeping up with the Joneses” on social media and turn weary of traditional media, Karuletwa said there’s a willingness to reconnect with nature and space to find one’s own truth and “authentic common sense.”

In other words, consumers want products that keep it real, even if realness is achieved via augmented reality, artificial intelligence and technology inspired by biomimicry. Peclers Paris breaks these themes down into two trend stories: Rural Visionary and Futuropolis.

Rural Visionary

In Rural Visionary, Karuletwa said trends are leveraging nature’s healing powers with virtual and immersive technologies. “People want to reconnect with nature and have a more authentic experience,” she said.

The color palette for Rural Visionary spans earthy neutrals, fresh greens, vegetable colors and a technological blue.

Workwear takes one of two looks: a streamlined laboratory aesthetic with clinical and natural white, stainless steel coatings and aluminum finishes, or it’s inspired by farms and landscape workers with rubbery coatings and multiple pockets.

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Minimalistic finishes that resemble black city tar captures a post-Brooklyn urban country aesthetic. Coatings that resemble cast iron and flocked velvets are juxtaposed to ultra-light nylons. Karuletwa said combining light and dense materials offer a more luxurious and forward-thinking look.

The trend calls for a blending of innovation and craft. Heather knit fleece is paired with touches of neon that electrifies looks. Basic components like straps and buckles are present, but are designed to form a more ergonomic fit.

Drawing inspiration from nature’s roughness, materials are sensual and strong. Angular structures and sheepskin offer a modern cabin feel. Knits and different weaves with a rough and raw look, heavy gauge knits, hemp ropes and structures with natural effects tell a maximalist rustic story.

Weathered materials, oily stains, rust and different patina finishes give outdoor gear a new alternative to camouflage patterns. Aged metals are key for finishes and trims. Repurposed materials and recycled plastic and wood can be used to create new aesthetics. Karuletwa said the idea is to recycle waste from the fields.

[Read more about footwear trends: 5 Trends Taking Over the Latin American Footwear Market for Fall ’18]


In Futuropolis, trends build off the theme that people are opening up to the universe. Space is the new playing field.

“The cosmos is this mysterious new frontier that engages consumers and captivates our attention,” Karuletwa said, adding that people have a “spiritual need” to discover the galaxy.

A moody color palette helps tell the story of Futuropolis. Dark neutral colors are influenced by nature. Pale, light greenish colors, whites, yellows and blue add a glowing effect.

Mutated silhouettes and protective, shell-like shapes create this urban wardrobe. Karuletwa describes the theme as an “oppressive twilight atmosphere” and a futuristic yet hostile city. “It is as if you were craving light or refuge,” she added.

Strange, androgynous looks are formed by latex-like leathers and second skin effects. Imagine hairless animals emerging for Earth, Karuletwa said.

Bleached out mother of pearl finishes, mirrors and glass bubbles enhance the trend’s futuristic look. Materials that look like iridescent seaweed or have glassy transparent finishes and silicone textures are used to achieve a strange but sensual aesthetic.

To contrast, dark velvets, damask fabrics, satin and classic men’s suiting bring in a glamorous 1940s vibe, Karuletwa said. Variation of metals, delicate wire and fine chain evoke a feeling of preciousness. Fringes, metal chains and lace-like metals enhance this story’s feeling of tragic romance.

Lurex, mosaic patterns, brocades, aged gold and purple marble effects deliver an Art Nouveau look reminiscent of a retro-meets-futuristic spy film.

Hints of artificial neon add modernity. The look is based on the flood of neon signs in Chinatowns and add a metropolitan feeling. Moist supple leather effects and the juxtaposition of slippery and matte finishes add visual interest.

The intergalactic look is carried into streetwear through acidic denim fabrics and glittery fabrications, a look Karuletwa said that is poised to elevate that market.