Fashion in the apparel and footwear industry is changing constantly – this is nothing new. What’s new, however, is how much consumers expect from their clothes and shoes, and from the companies that market them.

We obviously expect them to look great, to be comfortable and to be durable. But aside from this, the demand for highly sophisticated functionalities is growing, both in terms of materials, but also in the incorporation of electronics. And, finally, more than ever, consumers demand to know that their gear is sustainable, considering the impact on people and the environment, from the origins of its materials over its whole lifecycle and beyond. With a broad palette of high-tech materials, a passion for collaborative innovation and a commitment to sustainability, Covestro is inviting industry leaders to jointly set new standards for the fashion, sports apparel and footwear of the 21st century.

More than half of the German population keeps a given article of clothing no longer than a year – often due to poor quality.


Inspirations that leave a mark

Covestro materials give unprecedented freedom in creating outstanding design.

Covestro has a diverse range of materials that are extremely versatile and give designers unprecedented freedom in creating outstanding design through coated, finished or printed textile materials, as well as though films and molded units, improving the look and feel of the final product.

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Countless opportunities: design freedom

Thanks to the free combination of textiles, polyurethane coating systems and coating application technology, fabric material and product designers can achieve a wide range of effects in their creations. PU-coated or printed shoe upper materials may make a perfect imitation of natural leather – or may take on colors, patterns and effects, limited only by the imagination of the designer.

High comfort, long-lasting colors: look & feel

Polyurethane coatings enhance and protect the color and texture of underlying fabrics, such as denim jeans. They also provide the materials with special visual and handfeel effects that remain durable during the lifetime of the garment.

The industry for sportswear is growing steadily – for shoes alone, experts predict a worldwide market volume of 85.4 billion dollars for 2023.


Tailored benefits

Covestro takes the wearing comfort and protective function of sportswear, outdoor and safety clothing to the next level.

Fabrics enhanced with materials from Covestro take the wearing comfort and protective function of sportswear, outdoor and safety clothing to the next level. In addition, our materials can lay the foundation for the integration of sophisticated digital components in our everyday clothing. Get the full picture of what Covestro materials make possible in apparel and footwear.

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Fine-tuned for any purpose: functionalized fabrics

Covestro provides materials that increase wearer comfort of outdoor garments. In outdoor clothing and shoes, e.g., outer layers benefit from a dispersion that makes them waterproof yet breathable and wicking sweat away. These high performance coatings are highly resistant to abrasion and wrinkling, and withstand washing and drying.

Another application with high demands on functionality is sportswear. This is why polyurethane synthetics are key materials for the sports industry. Tough yet flexible, and light in weight, even in wet conditions, polyurethane is the perfect choice for high performance shoe upper materials.

Finally yet importantly, our innovations ensure the highest level of safety for protective workwear. Firefighters have to rely on clothing that is at the same time sturdy, waterproof, and temperature-resistant. Polyurethane-coated fabrics cover all of these requirements.

Shapely in the long run: elasticity retention

Clothing coated with polyurethane impresses with excellent elasticity retention. This means that, even after repeated stretching, it returns to its original form.

More than 15 million tons of used textile waste is generated each year in the United States alone – the amount has doubled over the last 20 years.


Future-oriented connections

Covestro products make a key contribution to material sustainability in the fashion industry.

Covestro is advancing in the fashion industry not just by means of our materials’ excellent quality and durability. Our products make a key contribution to material sustainability, and this is reinforced by our commitment to a business model grounded in openness and cooperation with textile manufacturers and brand owners.

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Reducing environmental impact: waterborne polyurethane dispersions

Due to its excellent material qualities, polyurethane has found widespread use in footwear, accessories and garments. Many brand owners, however, long for further improvements in the production process of these materials.

Covestro’s shows how such improvements might look like. With our high-quality, water-borne polyurethanes we enable PU fabrics with the same range of effects, hand-feel and durability as those made by conventional processes – while eliminating the need for wet processing and the use of critical solvents. Therefore, and depending on the precise process setup, polyurethane synthetics can be manufactured with almost half the carbon footprint and with up to 95-percent lower water consumption, compared to traditional processes.

Tailored to our clients’ needs: global R&D capacities

Covestro expert teams around the globe are dedicated to the continuous development and testing of new materials for the fashion industry. The clear focus on our clients’ concrete needs and preconditions is what drives all of our R&D activities. Thanks to a state-of-the-art, comprehensive network of research facilities, we are able to recreate the production conditions of any manufacturer. In this way, we can test new materials and methods for our clients without interrupting their production process.

Sustainability needs transparency: the INSQIN® Partner Manufacturer Program

True sustainability in the fashion sector is only achievable if all players along the value chain – labels, manufacturers and raw material suppliers – team up for this purpose. This is the basic idea behind Covestro’s INSQIN® Partner Manufacturer Program.

The textiles industry is extremely complex, and sometimes for manufacturers it is difficult to get visibility and direct access to brand owners interested in sourcing more sustainable materials. On the other hand, achieving transparency about the origin and quality of fabric materials is often difficult for brand owners.

Recognizing this need, and leveraging our experience and standing in the textiles industry, we have launched the INSQIN® Partner Manufacturer Program. The initiative pursues two main goals: providing an objective verification of the quality of manufacturers of polyurethane synthetics based on Covestro’s INSQIN® technology, and bringing manufacturers in touch with like-minded brand owners.

An independent service provider audits manufacturers aspiring to join the program. After a successful audit of their factory and management system and a thorough product testing, the manufacturer is recognized as an INSQIN® Partner Manufacturer. The process makes sure that all partners involved as well as end consumers can rely on strict compliance with objective sustainability criteria.