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Why suede sometimes loses its vibrancy during production – and how to get it back
August 15, 2014
Many factories the world over face the same problem when it comes to making shoes with a goat or cow suede uppers – the suede comes out looking rather dull – without the rich vibrancy that the brand or the designer had in mind. And the factory does not always have the answer or the solution to this problem, often bouncing it back to the tannery or the client.
So why does this happen? How can a piece of suede that was gorgeous enough for the design department to approve for production, come out looking so drab and ho-hum after the process?
One key reason is the production process itself. As the shoe is being put together, the suede is handled by many employees and various machines – cutting, stitching, gluing, and assembling it into place. The suede can easily lose its vibrancy and rich look at end of the process, as many hands and machines would be in constant contact with this delicate material.
Another reason suede might appear differently at the end of the production process that at its start is tanning tolerance. Suede is a natural material, and as such, it is not always consistent in appearance or quality. The original sample of suede confirmed for production may have been made by the tannery in a way that varies from the suede that actually goes into production. The “mass production suede” might not be as impressive as the original sample.
After many years in this industry, Innolux understands that when it comes to shoes, finishing is not many factories’ strong suit. The process is often more art than production technique; it requires a good eye and patience. Many factories simply don’t have the necessary know-how to handle this type of work. At the final stage of production, when factories just want to pack up the product and ship it to its destination - they fail.
So, is there a way to give suede some of its lost lustre? Recently, Innolux had completed a batch of ladies’ boots for the winter season. The company’s finishing experts were on hand at the production line to add any finishing touches. After completing a number of tests on both the raw material and the finished shoe, Innolux decided to use a special product called Antara. This product of Kenda Farben, Italy, is a water-based emulsion of waxes and oils. It fluffs up the fibers and brightens the material without affecting its colour.
By spraying Antara on the suede and brushing afterwards, Innolux was able to give its suede boots a bright new look. Antara was used on the leather part of the boot as well: the leather was first sprayed, then brushed with a cotton cloth.
The boots looked truly vibrant at the end of the process – exactly what any client would want.