Source: Fengrui Capital Author: Jiao Yingzhu
Bark, sugar cane, crab shells, spider wires, mycelium … These seemingly ancient or irrelevant natural substances that seem to be ancient or irrelevant to the shoe and clothing industry, with the help of material science and biotechnology, have changed, and become the secret of upgrading the shoe and clothing industry. The 5 -year -old brand Allbirds has risen from the use of new materials and sustainable concepts to rise from the fiercely competitive leisure sports market; the sports brand Tubu uses new materials as a breakthrough, expanded from the main sports and leisure market to marathon and other professional sports tracks ; Hongxingrke, who was “wild consumption” by netizens, also launched sports shoes that add carbon boards and new midsole materials.
Interestingly, this is a typical cross -disciplinary innovation direction (new materials+biotechnology+consumption). We can see that the current innovation is almost all cross -border, and breakthrough innovation occurs at the intersection of the discipline.
Behind the innovation of shoe materials, there is a beautiful original intention and innovation ability of the brand side, which also reflects the new consumption trend at the moment. Just as Uncle Feng (the founding partner of Fengrui Capital) repeatedly mentioned: Today’s consumers pay more and more attention to the health, equality, and sunlight that the products can bring. In the process of consumers’ attention to self -experience and social responsibility, environmental protection sustainable and technological -driven products are more popular.
According to the statistics of the “2020 China Sustainable Fashion Consumption Report” jointly released by the First Financial and Saidi and MSC Consultation, nearly 60 % of consumers are positive for sustainable, and they have the 80s of “advanced ideas” and “banknote capacity”. It has become the main force of sustainable consumption.
In this article, we will discuss:
Why is “functional+sustainability” an important direction for shoes and clothing innovation?
How to innovate the brands such as allbirds, Bolt Threads, Tubu?
Why is the innovation and change in the sports shoes and clothing industry so significant?
What other materials will be innovative in the shoe and clothing industry in the future?
New materials in the clothing and shoes industry
/ 01 /
Why is the new material’s source of innovation in the shoe and clothing industry?
Throughout the ages, a major driving force for the improvement of the shoe and clothing industry comes from the progress of materials.
From the need to hunting in the primitive society to capture the filaments and hemps made of cultivation and textiles in the summer and business periods, to cotton in the Han Dynasty. After the industrialization of the oil industry, we have plastic and synthetic fibers from large -scale production. With the change of materials, the functionality and easyness of fabrics are stronger.
Judging from the production module. Materials, craftsmanship, and design are the three main links in the production process of the clothing industry, and materials are extremely important parts.
Let’s sort out the production and supply chain of the shoe and clothing industry, so as to understand the significance of the material industry for the entire shoe and clothing industry.
The production and supply chain of the clothing industry involves multiple roles such as material suppliers, production service providers, and traders. The upper reaches of the clothing industry are materials such as natural fibers and chemical fibers, and the middle reaches are spinning, weaving, and printing and dyeing service providers. After layers of layers, they produce textiles for clothing, home textiles and industries.
The shoe production chain is far more complicated than the clothing industry. The upstream of the shoe performance industry is mainly leather, fabric, rubber and other materials providers. The midstream is a service party such as foaming, tailoring, polishing, drying, and vulcanization, and the downstream of the shoe brand.
Take the production of a pair of sports shoes as an example. After setting the direction of the upper, insoles, shockproof platforms, bottom, and bottom, it is necessary to decide what kind of materials to use. After selecting the materials, you can decide what process to make this material. Because, whether it is hemp, cotton, or leather, or rubber, it ultimately affects the performance of the entire shoe and clothing product, or the material.
In general, the shoe and clothing industry, especially the shoe industry that has been moved, has high requirements for underlying innovation. It requires a multi -as -as -as -as -as -as -area accumulation of material technology and biotechnology to achieve breakthrough progress.
/ 02 /
The downward shoe and clothing industry needs to find a new growth driving force
China is the world’s largest shoe and clothing consumer market. According to data from Ai Media Consultation, in 2020, the scale of the Chinese shoe and clothing market is about 340 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for about 23%of the global shoes and clothing market.
However, in recent years, China’s clothing industry has shown a downward trend as a whole. According to the data released by the China Clothing Association and the National Bureau of Statistics, in 2020, the loss of clothing companies above designated size (annual main business income of 20 million yuan or more) has a loss of 23.16%, which is 9.82 percentage points from the same period in 2019. The amount increased by 62.41%year -on -year.
The development of the clothing industry is influenced by many aspects such as macroeconomics, industry policies, and industrial chain transfer.
In 2020, affected by the epidemic, the overall purchasing power of the society declined. According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, in 2020, the total retail sales of Chinese social consumer goods were about 39.2 trillion yuan, a decrease of 3.9%over the previous year. Among them, clothing, shoes, and needle textiles decreased by 6.6%year -on -year.
In terms of policy. According to the data released by the United Nations “Immediate Action” movement: “The fashion industry (clothing and shoe) annual greenhouse gas emissions account for more than 8%of the global total emissions, and the amount of wastewater emissions accounts for 20%of the global total emissions. A pair of jeans, from cotton production to final products, require about 7500 liters of water. “In recent years, China has been promoting energy conservation and emission reduction in the clothing industry. In 2017, the China Textile Industry Federation released the online reporting system of carbon emissions data to assist textile companies to set scientific carbon targets.
In addition, Southeast Asia has attracted some of the shoe and clothing industry chain to the area with the help of demographic dividend and industrial development policies. In the shoe and clothing industry, China is facing fierce international competition.
In order to cope with the changing market environment, material innovation has become a way of breaking the shoe and clothing industry. We see that “functionality+sustainability” is becoming an important direction for shoes and clothing innovation.
Functions include better sports performance and more comfortable dressing experience. For example, some materials can enhance the functions of windproof, waterproof, breathable, and wear -resistant, while others can bring deodorization, ice, elasticity and other aspects of dressing experience.
Sustainability includes biological manufacturing, biodegradable, environmentally friendly low -carbon recyclable, green production, etc. For example, Everlane’s Clean Silk environmental protection silk uses more secure dyes to remove more than 900 chemicals from the production process.
According to the “2020 Global Fashion C formalities Report” released by McKinsey, 45%of the interviewed clothing companies hope to integrate more innovative bi based materials,> 67%of production procurement executives said that the use of innovative sustainable materials is very important to the company for the company Essence Most of the companies interviewed believe that functional materials are also important for the development of the entire enterprise. For example: outdoor brands such as GORE-TEX, Polartec, and companies such as Uniqlo have been deeply cultivated in functional materials.
McKinsey also estimated in the report that from 2013 to 2019, the annual patent application volume in the textile field in the textile sector will increase by 8 times.
/ 03 /
Allbirds, Bolt Threads, Tubu’s material innovation of Chinese and foreign brands
Next, we take the three companies: Allbirds, Bolt Threads, and Tubu as an example to share their innovative exploration on new materials. Judging from the results, the comfort, functionality of new materials, and the health and environmental protection concepts represented by the brand plays an important role in the rise and transformation of the brand.
Allbirds: Through new materials and sustainable concepts, based on the competitive leisure sports market
You may be hard to imagine that the “darling” in the field of sports consumption in ALLBIRDS has only been established for 5 years.
Since its establishment, the total financing of ALLBirds, which emphasizes health and environmental protection, has exceeded 200 million US dollars. In 2019, allbirds have sold $ 220 million. And the year before applying for the IPO, Lululemon, a sports leisure service brand, has a revenue data of $ 170 million.
AllBirds’s goal is to make the most comfortable shoes in the world. In 2016, allbirds started from the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, focusing on comfortable wool shoes. Today, Allbirds has been favored by well -known characters such as Google founder Larry Page, Apple CEO Cook, and former US President Barack Obama. Actors Leonardo Dicaprio and NBA star Andrei Iguodala have become its investors.
AllBirds can stand on the fiercely competitive leisure sports market, which is inseparable from its innovation and exploration on new materials. AllBirds is good at using a variety of innovative materials to continuously create more comfortable, soft, lightweight, and green and environmentally friendly products.
At the beginning of the founding, Allbirds focused on the Mero Naga wool. Wool has the characteristics of breathable, regulating temperature, and hygroscopic sweating. After the first wool shoes were widely welcomed, Allbirds launched a series of new products, which also uses new materials to further improve the comfort of the product.
Taking the Tree Runner series launched by Allbirds in March 2018 as an example. In addition to the wool insoles made of Meru Nu wool materials, the upper material uses South African eucalyptus plasma, and the new bottom material Sweet Foam ™ uses Brazil’s sugarcane as the raw material. The advantage of sugarcane fiber is light and breathable, and eucalyptus fibers make the upper more comfortable, breathable, and smooth.
Allbirds’s ambitions are not only in the shoe industry, it has begun to expand the industrial line into the fields of socks, clothing. What is unchanged is the use of new materials.
In 2019, allbirds launched socks made of wool+eucalyptus blended fiber Trino ™.
In 2020, it launched the “Good” series of green technology, Trino crab -crab T -shirts made of Trino ™ material+methalmine, which made people shine. Trino ™ material+methalmine is a sustainable fiber made of chitosan in abandoned crab shells. Because it does not need to rely on metal extraction elements such as zinc or silver, clothes can make clothes more antibacterial and durable.
In addition, Allbirds also plans to launch leather shoes made by plant base leather (excluding plastic) in December 2021.
The use of these new materials allows functional innovation for Allbirds products. In addition, the sustainability of these new materials itself also constitutes an important part of its brand values.
ALLBIRDS’s official website shows that the carbon footprint of a pair of ordinary sneakers is 12.5 KG CO2E, and the average carbon footprint produced by AllBirds is 7.6 KG CO2E (carbon footprint, which is the total of greenhouse gas caused by individuals, events, organizations, services or products. Emissions are used to measure the impact of human activities on the ecological environment).
AllBirds also clearly indicates how much resources can save environmental materials on the official website. For example, the eucalyptus fiber material used by allbirds is reduced by 95%and half of carbon emissions compared with traditional materials such as cotton. In addition, the shoelaces of allbirds products are made of recyclable plastic bottles.
At the moment of carbon neutralization and pressure, these efforts of Allbirds are becoming more and more important, and they have been strongly recognized by users.
The reason why allbirds can continue to launch various new products, the factory Braskem behind it plays an important role.
Braskem is one of the largest oil factories in Brazil. It is the largest producer of thermoplastic resin in the United States. It cooperates with more than 150 brands. The product exports to North America, South America, Asia, Europe and other regions. In 2007, Braskem launched an exclusive product of green polyethylene, which proposed ethanol from sugarcane to achieve green ethanol production. In cooperation with AllBirds, Braskem already has a very mature technology to produce green ethanol, which helps to produce sugarcane -based sole materials.
Bolt Threads: Focus on the development and application of new materials
Bolt Threads is not directly launched by products like AllBirds. It is an institution that develops and applies new materials.
The founder of Bolt Threads has raised a deep problem: if the oil resources are exhausted one day, we will lose the resources of the production fiber, so what should we do?
Bolt Threads has launched new material products such as spider wire protein material and mycelium MyLO.
Let’s look at spider silk protein material. The process of research and development and making spider silk protein is very wonderful. After analyzing the key protein ingredients of more than 600 spider silk, the researchers found the corresponding controlled protein genes. By using microorganisms (yeast) fermentation, sugar and water are added to produce proteins. Finally, spider silk protein is made by separating spylin and purifying.
The toughness of spider silk protein is four times that of the same size steel. Elasticity can be comparable to nylon, which can endure temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius. The process of producing spider silk protein is clean and harmless, and the material can eventually achieve biodegradation. It is an excellent material for making high -performance outdoor sports.
However, the current price of spider silk protein is $ 100 per kilogram, far exceeding the price range that consumers can accept. However, in areas where clothing, wigs, cosmetics, etc. have high requirements for materials, have high room for development.
The research and development process of mycelium MyLO is equally wonderful. The first is to extract fungal cells and feed organic matter for mycelia cells. In a certain temperature and humidity, the mycelium will grow into a foam layer. Next, processing and dyeing of the mycelium can be made into the mylo mycelium material that feels like a leather. The remaining materials during the production process will be used for compost.
The biggest selling point of myLo’s material is that the production time is short, and it can be made in just a few days. In contrast, the traditional method is to obtain leather materials through animal husbandry, and the whole process usually takes several years. To put it simply, it takes a few years to raise a cow, and the mycelium only takes a few days. MyLO materials have greatly shortened the production chain of leather materials and improved production efficiency.
However, the current price of Mylo is not enough to be close to the people, and its stability, plasticity and durability need to be observed for a long time. However, in the long run, the prospects of the mycelium material are expected. As a high -quality alternative solution for leather products, its commercial scene is very rich.
According to Gori reports, in 2021, Bolt Threads used its patented biomass MYLO to reach an exclusive cooperative relationship with a group of international fashion and luxury companies, including French luxury giants Kering (Kaiyun Group) and British designer brand Stella McCartney ( Stella McCartney), Adidas, Lululemon, etc.
Step: Realize brand transformation through new materials
In the past two years, Tobe is transformed from a brand that focuses on sports and leisure markets to professional sports brands.
Recently, the Tsobo has been breaking the circle. Among the Xiamen Marathon held in 2021, more than 50%of elite players (within 3 hours of use) wore Tip Sports shoes to participate. Among the Xuzhou Marathon men’s group, seven of the top nine athletes chose Tibu running shoes.
Why is Tubo favored by marathon players?
A answer is that new functional materials bring better exercise performance. Tab combined with carbon plate materials, with new materials at the bottom of the running shoes as a breakthrough, launching super low density, low weight, and more elastic sneakers. The midsole refers to the layer of foaming materials in the middle of the insole and the outsole, which plays a role in protecting, buffering, and stability.
Prior to Tubu, Adidas and Nike had taken the lead in iterating from materials to improve their performance. In 2013, Adidas launched the “popcorn” Adizero’s midsole using the German BASF’s foaming microspheres E-TPU. In 2017, the Zoomx series launched by Nike, cooperated with Akoma to use the new nylon elastic foam material (PEBAX )+Carbon fiber composite material. In 2019, Nike launched better Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%.
Step’s Dynamic Foam PB is an upgraded version of the “popcorn” — created by the use of nylon particles for supercritical foaming, which is about 50%lighter than the E-TPU, and the return elasticity exceeds 80%.
With the upgrading of professional sports shoes towards lighter, thicker, and more rebounding, the marathon world record has been continuously broken.
The reason why Tubu and other domestic sports brands can quickly follow up and update the materials at the bottom of the middle of the running shoe, thanks to the development of the material supply chain in China.
Due to the high technical thresholds of nylon elasticity, most production capacity is still in the hands of foreign manufacturers, such as Akoma, Winchuang, and Japan’s Yuba Xingli. With the advancement of nylon elastic body technology, Chinese manufacturers such as Zhejiang Xinyuan Technology and Cangzhou Xuyang Chemical have been able to produce high -performance nylon elastic materials. The scope of application of nylon elasticity has gradually expanded from high -end shoe products such as professional running shoes to wider field of home appliances, wearable equipment, medical equipment and other fields.
/ 04 /
Why is the innovation and change in the sports shoes and clothing industry so significant?
Whether it is the emerging brand Allbirds, or traditional brands such as Nike and Tubu, most of these companies that actively participate in materials innovation are sports brands. Why is the innovation and change in the sports shoes and clothing industry so significant in recent years?
Behind the change is consumers’ preference for sports and leisure shoes and clothing products. Data show that sports and leisure is becoming an incremental category in the category of clothing. According to research data released by the Spanish Investment Corporation Comprar Access in December 2020, the value of the global sportswear market (ActiveWear) reached 353.5 billion US dollars in 2020. This category has a certain resistance to the economic impact of the new crown epidemic. It is expected that from 2020 to 2026, the global sportswear market is expected to continue to grow with a compound annual growth rate of 3.7%, and it will reach US $ 439.17 billion by 2026.
First of all, sports and leisure represents a life attitude to pursue health and love sports. Secondly, sports and leisure shoes and clothing products are superior to ordinary clothing, which is more breathable, personal, and comfortable.
Third, people’s work types and ways of work have changed. Compared with decades ago, the proportion of young people currently engaged in the retail service industry has increased, resulting in the decrease in industry practitioners such as financial services such as official wear. Most young people are wearing less formal clothes and more casual sportswear. The United States is also similar. As mentioned earlier, the data released by Spanish Investment Corporation Comprar Acciones proves people’s vigorous demand for sportswear.
People’s attitude towards sports and leisure shoes and clothing is a mapping of social trends and changes in business culture. In traditional society, the crown etiquette is the embodiment of the grade and class, and the corporate manager admires the professional dress. As people are increasingly emphasizing the concepts of health, environmental protection, equality and friendship, everyone’s dress is more diverse. From the gentleman art of European clothing to the American -style leisure sports, people express their self and show a healthy living conditions through clothing, which has become an irreversible trend.
In addition, the epidemic has profoundly affected people’s concept of clothing. During the epidemic, people are used to the comfort and convenience of home clothing, and have a stronger awareness of exercise and health. It is difficult to return to the state of suits all day.
/ 05 /
What other materials will be innovative in the shoe and clothing industry in the future?
The new materials we mentioned earlier are replacing traditional materials. For example, MyLO mobilizer material can replace leather materials, and spider silk protein fiber can replace silk. These new materials may have a certain difference in maturity, but they have obvious differences in agency and sustainability compared with traditional materials, both in terms of function and sustainability.
In the next 5-10 years, what new materials will be innovative in the shoe and clothing industry?
Polystine (PLA) is currently one of the most output and widely used materials in biodegradable materials. Polycine is fermented from a cinema such as wheat and corn. After the spinning is molded, polymapilic acid fibers can be obtained.
Polycine is not only environmentally friendly, but also has a certain antibacterial effect. After widespread application of daily necessities, cosmetics, and automobiles, polystumin has been tested by consumers. In the future, polystumin will have the opportunity to cut into the shoe and clothing industry more widely.
In addition to the main functional running shoes, the specialties mentioned earlier have also launched sportswear -based sportswear. In 2020, Tuba launched a windbreaker with polystumin composition, with a proportion of polystumin in total materials. In 2021, the proportion of polymapilic acid was increased to 60%of the polyal acid T -shirts launched by Tubu. Tubou also plans to listed on a higher -tied sweater in the second quarter of 2022.
Polycroxyl fatty acid ester (PHA)
Polycroxyl fatty acid ester (PHA) is also a material worthy of attention. PHA is synthesized by natural microorganisms and has good water resistance, ductility and biological affinity. PHA is widely used in agriculture, environmental protection, biochemical, micro -electrical materials, energy, medicine, medical materials and other fields, and can spontaneously degrade directly in natural environments such as soil and seawater.
According to the research report released by Southwest Securities, compared with biological materials such as PLA, the PHA structure is more diversified. By changing the bacteria, feeding, fermentation process, etc., the composition of PHA can be changed, so that PHA’s performance can be more diverse. Essence PHA products that are currently produced by industrialized include polycaticate (PHB), polystroxyl -based gal -pentalate (PHV), polycaticate (PHBV), etc.
PHA also has the characteristics of bacteriostatic. The most common on the market is the fiber made of PHBV and PLA. This material is better than pure PLA materials in terms of heat resistance and softness. This fiber can be used to make healthy and environmentally friendly textiles.
In terms of commercial applications, there is a company called Hen Su Fiber, which has the core patented technology of PHBV material production. It uses PHBV materials to make home clothing, socks and other fabrics. The company started with a cooperative project in the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ningbo City, and was listed as a national high -tech research and development 863 plan.
According to the content brand of Deeptech, Synbio reported: “With high production costs of PHA, PHA has not been able to achieve large -scale commercial mass production.” The industrial production technology of PHA can be degradable, and the system reduces PHA production costs. “
Blue Crystal Microbial is a company that is based on “biotechnology+industrial Internet” and is engaged in innovation of molecular and materials. The company is committed to creating innovative products with the most commercial imagination through biological computing and testing platforms, including the only plastic on the market that can degrade in the natural environment (including seawater), and use industrial cannabis components to fight anxiety and analgesia. Watering medicine helping to solve East Asian alcohol metabolism genetic defects.
Laiser material is mixed with wood pulp (mainly coniferous trees), water and solvent oxide, and then fully dissolved. Lessar’s molecular structure is a simple carbohydrate, which does not produce any derivatives and chemical effects during dissolution.
Laisle was first launched by Austrian Essence. The company also developed Modal Materials. Laiser’s advantage is that the texture and touch are better, with a sense of vertical, and it is very suitable for alternative silk and other materials. Lessar’s application is relatively wide. For example, Urban Revivo has collaborated with the World Nature Foundation (WWF) a series of products that use Leisle fabric.
Carbon fiber is mainly composed of carbon atoms. After thousands of carbon fibers are bundled, a fiber bundle can be formed, which can be used alone or woven fabrics. Carbon fiber materials are originally used in machinery, aerospace, wind power and other fields because of high hardness, high strength, light weight, light weight, not easy to deform, high temperature resistance, etc. With the gradual maturity of carbon fiber technology, the price of carbon fiber materials decreases, and carbon fiber is currently widely used in sports equipment, medical equipment, consumer electronics, automobile industry, construction engineering, freight storage and other scenarios.
When the carbon fiber and their composite materials are applied to the racing shoe, it will not only strengthen the structure of the midsole of the shoes, provide a more stable support for the arch of the foot, but also enhance the rebound force of the shoe, provide strong thrust, save the athlete’s physical strength Essence Some sneakers produced by companies such as Nike, Adidas, Anta, and other companies have used carbon fiber materials to improve performance.
In 2020, Kenya’s athlete Peres Jepchirchir wore ADizero Adios Pro containing carbon fiber materials to break the pure women’s half -horse world record with 1 hour 05 minutes and 34 seconds. (Source: Arids official website)
Fengrui Capital Angel Wheel Project Huayu New Materials has a deep technical accumulation in the field of carbon fiber composite materials. It has a number of carbon fiber -related patented technologies that can design and produce carbon fiber materials suitable for automotive, sports shoes and other fields.
In addition to polylactic acid (PLA), polycatic hydroxyl fatty acid ester (PHA), Leisle, carbon fiber and other materials, there are many new materials that can be used in the shoe and clothing industry, such as seaweed fiber, soy protein fiber, bamboo pulp regeneration fiber, etc. Essence Although the production capacity of these new materials is not large enough, the future application scenarios are very broad.
/ 06 /
Will the new materials accept more consumers and brands in the future?
After sorting out the application cases of the new materials in the shoe and clothing industry, the question we want to further explore is: Will the new materials enable more consumers and brands in the future?
At present, the development of new materials is still affected by many uncertain factors from the consumer side and the supply side.
Look at the supply side first. The biggest demand for the shoe and clothing industry for the supply side is to make good products at a lower cost. However, most of the new materials are not low, and the material performance is not stable compared to traditional cotton and hemp materials.
On the corporate side, most companies may not have the perception of new materials enough and clear. In addition to the entry of some brands, most companies are still watching and hesitating.
This also involves games and balances. The concept of sustainability with new materials is to some extent to advocate consumers with lower carbon, more environmentally friendly, and buy less clothes.
From the perspective of consumers, the acceptance of continuous concepts of environmental protection consumption in the crowd is increasing. However, overall, in the mass consumer market, the weight of sustainable environmental protection in purchasing decisions is not high enough. I think new materials for environmental protection are just gimmicks, and there are many people. It can be said that the popularity of new material products also needs to conduct market education for potential users.
Although the widespread application of new materials is uncertain, its positive impact on the development of the shoe and clothing industry cannot be concealed.
At present, the more feasible and universal solution is that new materials do not use new materials as the backbone of clothing and shoes, but as parts of consumer Nice to have (very willing). Because these new materials have the advantages of windproof, waterproof, comfort, etc., some traditional materials are incomparable.
In addition, from the perspective of industrial chain innovation, no matter whether it is production or recycling, new materials are more efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional materials. There is still a lot of room for compression and adjustment of the production cost of new materials. If we stretch the timeline, we can more clearly realize that new materials are actually reducing the cost of production and consumption for enterprises and society.
Some optimistic phenomena have shown that more and more consumers are willing to pay for sustainable materials and functional materials. According to the 2019 survey of the China Textile News Agency, more than 40%of the 5002 consumers interviewed were willing to pay 10%to 20%of the premium for sustainable textile and apparel products.
We have reason to believe that when the concepts and production methods related to new materials are accepted more widely by consumers, the technology behind the synthetic biology behind the new materials will have the opportunity to change the value chain of the entire new material production, and the production of new materials will be produced. The lower the cost, the higher the efficiency, the more you can be widely used in the market to form a benign cycle.