World Footwear


World Footwear Voices: interview with Yves Morin

Jan 15, 2024 World Footwear Voices
Today we bring you a conversation with Yves Morin to learn a little more about technology, innovation, and how that can lead to a more sustainable world. Watch this new episode of the World Footwear Voices

World Footwear: We are here in Milan for the UITIC Congress, and we have Yves Morin, its President, with us. Thank you very much for this opportunity. My first question to you is: it has been five years since we last gathered at a UITIC Congress, and I would probably ask you what is the importance of this event for the footwear industry?  
Yves Morin: Yes, five years after the wonderful Congress we had in Portugal, so it was a challenge for us to reach the same level. This event is very important because our industry is facing many issues, as many industries, of course. But being a consumer industry, everybody is involved in footwear, everyone consumes footwear. So, it’s a topic that everybody is following, in fashion, technology, and innovation. It’s important to be very accurate in our Congress, of course.

World Footwear: And going to the theme of this Congress. It’s all about technology and innovation, and how that can lead us to a more sustainable industry. So, my question to you is: how do you think innovation and technology can help the footwear industry, and what will be the impact on production in the actual day-to-day in the factories?
Yves Morin: I have followed the topic of sustainability for more than 20 years. And sometimes, I doubt. I doubt it because I say, “Shall we move faster”? “Do we move, really”? But thanks to the Conference we have here, I think we are really making great progress. Innovation, of course, is important, and not only innovation in technology, I mean hardware or equipment, but also innovation in the way that we approach this problem with new business models, new thinking from the businessmen or the consultants. So, it's a global sustainable approach, I would say, which is very important because if it’s only technology or equipment, it will not be enough.

World Footwear: How do you think all those new technologies and innovations can change the process, what implications will have in the factories? We have been hearing a lot about artificial intelligence, robots, and so on, and some people have questions about how that can work. What’s your view on that?
Yves Morin: Don't forget that we have a manufacturing industry. So, of course, robots will be very important to some tasks and the process. But, first, I think that what is most important is the design and the ecodesign. Everything is starting from there. If designers are aware of the impacts of what they do when they design a product, when they choose a material, when they select a team supplier. This is the main starting point. What we said today and yesterday is that everything starts from the very beginning of the conception of footwear. And I think that after, everything will follow.

World Footwear: You mentioned the beginning with the designer, the sketching, and so on. And so, I think my other question is, do you think the industry is feeling the demand of the customer to do things differently? Because a lot of people say, “We’re doing this because our clients are requesting a different approach”. Do you think from what you see from what you hear that this is actually part of the equation?
Yves Morin: I think that today most companies understand that they have to move, there is no option. So, this is very safe. Maybe the difficulty is that we shouldn’t consider only Western countries. We have some big issues in Western countries. We buy too many products; we throw away too many products. The life cycle of the product is a very important issue that we haven’t solved yet, but don't forget the developing countries, where people want to buy more products. So, we have to calibrate those two options. As Western people – I am French –, as Western people, we can say that we have to reduce consumption with better products, but some people would like to consume as many products as they have consumed so far, seven pairs a year per person. So, consumers are not equal in every country. Having said that, what we know from studies is that the perception of sustainability is always the same. Everybody in any country, India, China, Europe, America. People care about sustainability. We care about the environment because all of us have children, and we want to promise them a better future.

World Footwear: And now that we are almost reaching the end of this congress, what are your key takeaways? I know you already mentioned a couple of things. But if you had to sum up these two days of intensive presentations and discussions, what would be your key takeaways?
Yves Morin: The main one is that international cooperation is very useful. We have seen here people from every country, Pakistan, Argentina, the US, the UK, everywhere, people have the same targets and sometimes are conducting the same innovations or research projects. So, gathering, we’ll go faster.

World Footwear: My final question is about the next edition of the UITIC Congress. It has been announced that it will be in two years in China. Do you want to tell us a little bit more about that?
Yves Morin: It's a real pleasure to go to China in two years because it has been for years the main producer of footwear in the world. China is also a leading country in many industries. So, being back again after some years – because the last congress in China was in 2013 – I think things have changed a lot, and we’ll have a great event. And, we’ll try to join this event with the ACLE, the famous fair in Shanghai, so we can gather other people coming for the fair to come to the congress, which is the target also here in Milan; here, we have Simac Tanning Tech and our partner Assomac, with whom we joined forces to gather people here.

World Footwear: Thank you so much. These were the latest from the UITIC congress in Milan. Continue to follow World Footwear for more updates.

Note: This interview was conducted in Milan in September 2023 during the UITIC Congress

At the time this interview was conducted Yves Morin was the President of UITIC

Check some of our previous interviews HERE