Footwear designs have continuously upgraded with the advance techniques for improvement of comfort and performance of the shoes in daily routine or specialized sports applications. In footwear, the sole of footwear is very important part as sole have to face the external environment. The sole of footwear helps to protect the feet from injury during work or performing physical activities.
In 1800 wood was used for manufacturing of sole. As the time passed the demand of more rubber sole shoe was increased as it was cost effective and also more comfortable in wearing for longer duration. Sandals of leather were also introduced in 1900 which was accepted globally. The leather straps were joined with the rubber sole to manufacture the footwear. The footwear of leather and wood were heavy which cannot be weared for longer duration. So light weight material was started to be used for the manufacturing of sole of footwear.
In 19th century, outsole of footwear has been changed in materials. Leather has been the traditional soling material, after 1980 only about 5% of shoes have leather soles. Now, most of soles are made of rubber or plastics, which are classed as synthetics rubber. Polyurethane is one of them that become most popular soling material for footwear.
Sole material is the kind of material which is used for the manufacturing of different kinds of sole according to the application of shoe. Sole material are the kind of material which are resistant to putrefaction and enzymatic destruction and after repeated wetting-drying cycles returns back to its former soft characteristics due which material is used in the manufacturing of sole for footwear.
Shoe soles are made from a variety of different materials which includes rubber, leather, polyurethane and other bio-compounds. Sole material is also used for manufacturing of inner sole which is softer than the outsole. Sole of a shoe is also known as outsole which is bottom part of the shoe. More of the times outsole comes in direct contact with the ground.
Footwear sole is made up of soling materials such as:
Polyurethane is a type of polymer which is composed of organic units which are joined by carbamate links. Polyurethanes are kind of thermosetting polymers which do not melt when heated on high temperature. Polyurethane is of different types which are methylene diisocyanate (MDI), toluene diisocyanate (TDI) and polyols.
Rubber is kind of elastic substance which is obtained from exudations of certain tropical plants which is natural rubber. Rubber products are also derived from petroleum and natural gas which is called as synthetic rubber.
Bio-compounds are materials which are made of several cells and other structures of organisms are known as bio chemicals compounds. In bio-compounds carbon compounds are important which make the material light weight.
Several materials are being used in the production of footwear sole which can provide high comfort and light weight shoe. Different types of shoes are being used for different application due to which different materials are being used in the production of footwear sole. Polyurethanes as a soling material is comprise of almost limitless chemical formulation combinations which give designers and manufacturers freedom to create innovative designs according to the application of the shoe. The soft inner sole is more in demand among women fashionable footwear and daily wears and also for kids due to lightweight and super soft sole material which is more used in the footwear.
Corona virus was started from the China country and now has reached to every corner of the word. The COVID-19 has larger impact on different industries due to which the growth of the business and world is recovering in very steady pace. The pandemic have hit the economy very hard world wide as the lockdown was imposed in all the regions which have made the situation challenging for all sector for growth and also the developing actives will be done in the stager manner.
No sector was immune from the effect of the COVID-19 as all the manufactures of the footwear sole material in the regions have faced the ups and down in the business due to the COVID-19 situation and unable to forecast the demand of the footwear in the market.
The demand for the footwear sole material has fallen in the industries due to the lower production of the footwear in the global market. The export and import of the footwear sole material in different countries have fallen down due to the pandemic situation created by COVID-19. The big brands or manufactures are producing at 25%-30% of their full capacity as demand of the footwear has fallen in the market.
Government has imposed the lockdown rules in the entire region due to which people are setting at their home. The demand for the light weight sole material in the footwear have fallen down in pandemic no physical activities were going on which lower the demand for sport shoes in different games and physical activities. Different types of footwear sole are used in different type of footwear functionality. Due to lockdown in several manufactures activities were on halt, the demand of footwear has fallen down in the industries due to which the demand for footwear sole materials have decline.
The cascading effect of the spread of the corona virus can also be seen on the foot wear industry. Footwear industry have also have to face the pandemic situation which created by the COVID-19. The production in the footwear industry has been on halt due to the lock down and shortage of the labor in the factory. The virus is taking a massive toll in the economic front, shutting down businesses, curbing international travel and impacting production lines of major global businesses. On evaluating footwear industry in the countries, the major brands have shut down their stores, and some of them have also delayed their new collection release which has lowered the demand for the footwear sole material in the market.
FIGURE 1 NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION RATE (2019 –2020)
From the above diagram we can interpret that the introduction of the new footwear models in 2020 was fallen down as in 2019 introduction of athletics shoes and sneakers was 11.00% which fall to 4.15% in 2020. In 2019 introduction of boots was 3.00% which fall to 5.00% in 2020. In 2019 introduction of heeled shoes was 12.00% which fall to 5.00% in 2020. With the decline in the introduction of new products in the market will have negative impact on the demand for footwear sole material in the market.
According to experts of World Footwear, global footwear consumption is expected to fall by 22.5% in pandemic year. In Europe, demand of footwear declined by 27%, in North America demand of footwear is declined by 21%, and in Asia-Pacific demand of footwear is declined by 20%. The revenue of the foot wear industry has fallen down by 10%-15% in the pandemic situation as the import and export of the footwear have been declined. The demand of the footwear on all distribution channels have declined globally due to which manufactures have to face the challenge of the stock clearance.
Footwear companies such as Adidas and Puma are also experiencing major effects due to the coronavirus headwinds. Most of the branded stores have been closed in the virus-driven countries. The big brands have lost the sales of USD 50 million to USD 60 million due to the outbreak. Other luxury labels are predicting serious blows to their sales too. With the falling sales of the footwear in the market have lower the demand of different footwear sole material which have impacted the global footwear sole material market.
Manufacturers of footwear sole material market have to face many difficulties due to halt in the industries which leads to low demand of footwear for all end-user segment which resulted into low demand of footwear sole material in market. The demand of footwear sole material is more in athletic shoes and also in daily wear flip-flops in the end-user segment which helped the manufacturers to earn profits from the stock as the demand for the light weight flip flops and sandals which people wear on daily basis have increased on larger extent. Manufacturers have also taken strategic decision to cover the losses which occurred due to COVID-19. Several OEMs and manufacturing industry have collaborated together and started production. In addition, fulfilling the demand of footwear sole material in the different countries manufactures are helping each other financially in business.
Synthetic rubber is used in the manufacturing of the sole of the footwear. With decline in the demand of the footwear which resulted in decline in synthetic rubber footwear sole material during the COVID-19. Synthetic rubber footwear sole material is more used in the footwear industry as to fold and cut due to the property of flexibility which increases its demand in the footwear industry. Due to COVID–19, prices of footwear sole material are adversely affected as the downfall in demand of footwear in various industries.
FIGURE 2 PRICE OF SYNTHETIC RUBBER (JANUARY 2020 –JULY 2020)(USD)
From the above diagram we can infer that the price of the synthetic rubber is falling on constant rate due to the fall in the demand by the automotive, tire and footwear industry. The price of the synthetic rubber in January 2020 was 201.80 USD which fell to 192.00 USD in the month of April 2020 when the lockdown had increased the production activity have fallen down due to which the demand of the synthetic rubber have fallen down. In the month of May 2020 the price was 190.10 USD which again fell to 184.10 USD in the month of July 2020.
In 2020, COVID-19 has bad impact on the demand of footwear products due to which demand of footwear sole material product have fallen down. The demand of sports shoes, casual shoes have fallen down in all end-user segments which includes men, women and kids which resulted in low demand in footwear sole material in global market. The manufactures were able to earn revenue through the sale of footwear sole material for flip flops in the market during COVID-19. With the increase in sports and recreation activities and also with lifting of lockdown, the demand of different type of shoes in different industry will increase which will have positive impact on the demand of the footwear which is expected to boost the global footwear sole material market. Import and export of raw material and finished product of footwear products with other nations will help to boost global footwear sole material market in near future.