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Brescia - Seamless knitting machine manufacturer Santoni and wool yarn specialist Südwolle are collaborating on a new, high performance footwear concept.

The partnership will see a combination of Santoni's X Machine and the latest technical, wool-based yarns from Südwolle Group to create a new type of footwear made with a seamless knitted upper for the activewear market.

Starting from this month 2018, the collections will be presented at a number of upcoming textile trade fairs including: Performance Days (28/29th Nov), ISPO (3rd-6th Feb), Pitti Filati (23rd-25th Jan) and Filo (27/28th Feb).

"Footwear marries the current trend for knitted uppers with 3D intarsia and profiles, lending itself to numerous variants and personalized interpretations in the ambit of active and fashion wear," says Santoni. "A fit that is perfectly gauged to the foot shape, the breathability of the upper and a sensation of comfort in dynamic contexts are the distinctive characteristics of this footwear. It is the result of Santoni Group’s X Machine technology and the performing wool blend yarns by Südwolle Group in combination with fibre expertise coming from EMS Grilon."

A key benefit of the X Machine, which was launched earlier this year with the footwear market particularly in mind, is its ability to knit countless intarsia patterns for any kind of seamless upper. The X Machine also allows manufacturers to map different areas according to the type of yarn used and the various combinations chosen, resulting in a finished shoe body that is ready for the application of the sole, the last stage in the shoe manufacturing process.

"With the help of X Machine the production process becomes more efficient, reliable and costs can be minimized," says Santoni, adding that product-wise, the shoe uppers can be designed with unlimited patterns and colour combinations including three-dimensional areas and eyelets for the laces.

With the yarn used for the upper of fundamental importance Südwolle Group, the leading manufacturer of yarns for circular knitting and hosiery, collaborated with Santoni during the development of the prototypes.

"The properties and structure of the fibres mean it is possible to enhance the potential of the shoes and heighten its performance," the company said. "The project has been based on Südwolle Group yarns, constructed and twisted specifically for this purpose in order to effectively meet the objective. (We) selected wool-based blends with a high technical content, to offer the natural qualities of wool fibres to footwear destined for sports activities and activewear."

The new footwear concept offers a number of beneficial properties to the wearer. As well as being anti-static and elastic with a soft hand feel, use of wool yarns means that the shoes offer excellent heat insulation and and the absorption of body moisture, transporting it away from the skin and outside the fabric.

The fibre is also antibacterial, odour resistant and affords protection against UV rays. "It is actually thanks to these properties that the use of wool for footwear is an ancient tradition which Südwolle Group has recovered and applies to an industry that is extremely modern, technological and defined by high levels of performance." the company said.

Two different yarns have been used. Cord-Wool Stretch in a count of Nm 12.500 Z 280 is a blend of Merino wool, Cordura and Lycra, offering a balanced mix of durability, lightweight and resistance to abrasion.

The second is Buran Sport Nm 7.500 Z 280 which is a blend of extrafine merino and cationic polyester. The upper made with Buran Sport is described as quick drying with an extremely soft hand feel, low pilling, easy-care and machine washable without risk of shrinkage or loss of its vivid colours.

Once blended with wool, the Trevira polyester, with its Dual Channel fibre profile, enhances the properties of odour resistance, heat insulation and moisture absorption, allowing moisture to evaporate externally, keeping the skin dry and ensuring lasting comfort.

Both yarns have been processed in a thermal fuse blend with Grilon melting fibre (Grilon k85 390dtex and 840 dtex), a material which is of fundamental importance in retaining the shape of the knit fabric upper with its 2D and 3D structure.

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