Companies are utilizing color schemes typically seen on trainers and sneakers, mixing neutrals such as white, black and pale gray with bright orange, yellow or blue. The key hues are reflected on mesh and leather patches on the uppers, some of which are in the form of a streak across the quarter. The theme can be continued by using striped webbing to form loops for the laces. A few styles employ wide and flat outsoles similar to skate shoes. As regards boots, cherry-tinted leather lends a fashionable appearance to models. Functional zipper and buckle closures are arranged to also be decorative. Makers are creating ankle-high slip-on variants with wide elastic patches on each side of the ankle as well. The fit-enhancing feature is often adopted in casual footwear.
Even with these initiatives, however, manufacturers still apply traditional materials to maintain the integrity of the products. Cowhide is the primary choice for the uppers because it is more durable than pig- and sheepskin. Full-grain, suede, nubuck and split forms are utilized. The last represents about 70 percent of output in the line. This figure includes action leather, which is a version coated with PU. One-step injection-molded PU and PVC kinds are also available. For the outsoles, the most common and least expensive option is PU. Several combine a top layer of the polymer with rubber or TPU at the bottom. Adopting the latter hybrid boosts prices by $0.50. Pure rubber types are $2 costlier because they are manufactured using different equipment and therefore outsourced.
Apart from boosting the chicness of designs, manufacturers are reducing weight by replacing steel toe caps and midsoles with a plastic composite consisting of fiberglass and other additives. The substitute is 20 to 30 percent lighter than the metal counterpart but does not compromise protection. In fact, it can resist up to 200J of shock as required by CE EN 20345:2007. Quotes for pairs that employ the alternative are $2.13 higher.
Made in China safety boots goes for $7 to $32. The majority of exports consist of ankle-high boots. Knee-length models with uppers of genuine hide have the smallest share.
Prices are 5 to 10 percent higher than three months ago due to rising material outlay. Rates for action leather increased 11 percent, while those for full-grain cowhide and Nubuck climbed 10 percent. Influenced by crude oil values, PU outsoles soared 33 percent in the same period. The upward trend is expected to continue in the months ahead. Consequently, manufacturers will raise quotes by about 5 percent.