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SATRA membership for brand owners and retailers

Footwear brand owners and retailers of all sizes become members of SATRA for a wide variety of reasons.

by Oliver Chandler

Image © Elnur |

There are challenges common to footwear brand owners and retailers, no matter what the size of their company or in which country they are located. These problems include sizing discrepancies, customer-supplier disputes, faulty goods and international compliance issues. SATRA is the source of advice and assistance to an increasing number of member companies around the world seeking solutions to such difficulties.

SATRA was established in 1919 to provide a research and technology organisation. It was member-based and registered as a non-profit distributing limited company. The members of the association were expected to make a contribution based on the value of their businesses, guaranteed for five years.

A number of requirements were identified, including the need for a central source of information – a body to research new ideas and a testing facility that could fulfil a number of criteria, including:

The footwear industry soon realised the importance of SATRA’s research programmes. This led to the development of new technologies and test methods that went on to greatly increase footwear quality and production efficiency.

Our original purpose still holds true today, and the principles developed those many years ago remain our guiding philosophy. All surplus income is invested back into the business to continue to benefit members.

Membership income continues to underpin an active research programme that has yielded many internationally recognised production methods and testing concepts.

Today, we have over 1,600 members in some 74 countries. These consist of brand owners, retailers, component producers, tanneries, sourcing companies and finished goods manufacturers. Innovation within industry drives the Technology Centre’s research programme to investigate new footwear materials and processes, as well as wider industry issues. Research findings are reported through SATRA Bulletin magazine, a technical resource excusive to members that is funded by the SATRA membership scheme. The printed version of this journal is published 11 times per year and covers industry news, as well as a wealth of technical articles written by our experts.

More than just testing

SATRA is responsible for the creation of many footwear test methods. All SATRA test methods have the prefix ‘TM’, followed by a number and the year of issue. We are an active standards committee participator and have encouraged the incorporation of many SATRA test methods into BS, ISO, EN and ASTM standards. Research and development includes the creation of industry guidelines which are exclusive to the Technology Centre and utilised only by qualified experts. These guidelines enable SATRA to interpret test results and provide advice to members about the suitability of their products and materials for a given application.

SATRA’s assistance can help footwear brand owners and retailers to successfully and confidently launch new products – such as those offering water resistance

We are a leading provider of footwear expertise and employ experts in footwear components, leather, constructions, fitting, comfort, development and international compliance.

What is the value of membership?

Expert footwear advice – SATRA’s shoemaking knowledge has become a valuable resource for footwear professionals of all levels. Whether as telephone advice, a visit to our offices to discuss a particular issue (often free of charge) or a more in-depth product evaluation, the Technology Centre’s experts assist with the development of materials, production processes or products, and also offer support to evaluate consumer and supplier returns. Our personnel are often able to quickly identify solutions that save the members considerable amounts of money and anxiety.

Over the years, SATRA’s advice has led to the successful resolution of thousands of consumer and supplier disputes. From customer service staff, through to buying departments, we can support members throughout the dispute procedure by providing a recognised expert conclusion to support communications or legal proceedings.

Legislative and regulatory advice – SATRA’s technical staff chair and participate in numerous standards and regulatory committees. As such, they ensure that these forums receive sound technical advice and test methods that can be implemented practically. This means that the Technology Centre is always abreast of change within industry. We can provide members with advice on regulations such as the European REACH requirements or the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD). Members have full access to our consultants via email or telephone when in need of technical support, and many also visit the laboratories in the UK and China to discuss problems face-to-face. Of course, our staff regularly travel to visit members or present seminars in the regions where our members are based.

The Technology Centre’s chemistry team provides testing to assess for legal compliance and other issues

Chemical compliance – SATRA’s highly experienced chemists not only deliver advice to members, but also have the ability to perform ‘non-standard’ testing to assist in troubleshooting. This can often include cases where products have reacted or changed during shipping or storage.

SATRA’s chemical experts are responsible for the creation of our restricted substance list (RSL), which details footwear-related chemicals that are banned or restricted by quantity. Not only does the list define each chemical by legislation, requirement and test method, but it also highlights in what materials these chemicals are most likely to be present.

Supplier specifications – SATRA assists many brand owners and retailers with the update or creation of supplier manuals. These are used to communicate the quality expectations and performance requirements of the brand prior to entering any supply agreements. Our technical input on specifications has proven invaluable to many companies in the face of increasing market surveillance and injury claims. A meaningful and appropriate specification demonstrates technical awareness and is considered a step towards fulfilling due diligence.

Footwear training – the Technology Centre delivers industry leading training courses worldwide and offers an events schedule from venues in China, Europe, the UK and the USA. A range of training options is available, covering single topics (such as fitting) through to recognised qualifications such as SATRA Accredited Footwear Technologist (SAFT). Footwear courses are only available to SATRA members and can often be tailored to suit specific needs.

Advanced testing – We continue to develop new test methods to support innovative products or materials that fall outside of normal testing procedures. These developments have led to the creation of advanced test methods which remain available only to SATRA members, including thermal rating, climate rating, advanced moisture management, biomechanical abrasion and artificial ageing.

Evaluating fit and comfort is an important service available to SATRA members

Research and development – Many brand owners have successfully created new footwear concepts and technology using the Technology Centre’s research and development capability. Scientific expertise coupled with shoemaking knowledge makes SATRA the ideal partner when developing new product or problem solving. Our facilities include prototype design and development, microscopy, 3-D printing, thermography, pressure mapping, climatic simulation and scientific support.

In the eyes of many members, SATRA is often considered an extension of their own development team, offering out-of-the-box thinking supported by in-house technology and knowhow.

SATRA has a comprehensive suite of footwear tests to ensure that a product is fit for purpose

Standard testing – We have the most comprehensive footwear testing capability in the world and perform an extensive range of footwear tests for members. From SATRA test methods to ISO and ASTM, the testing includes expert conclusions on findings utilising SATRA’s guidelines. Expertise goes beyond pass/fail results and offers members the possibility to learn how performance or product characteristics could have been improved.

Fitting and comfort – Our fitting experts deliver sizing and comfort assessments across all styles and sizes of footwear. Fit assessments have grown to become a requirement for many brand owners before commencement of production is approved. Members have access to advice on international sizing methods and data, as well as full pre-production assessments.

Mystery shopper – SATRA recognises that some members perform their own market surveillance, and therefore offer a ‘mystery shopper’ service where possible. Bespoke testing packages are available which can involve our staff collecting footwear from local stores and performing a preselected testing regime. The service often includes a random selection of test methods from a brand owner’s specification and is viewed as a screening exercise. Results are reported back to members and include expert recommendations.

Online resources – Technical articles published by SATRA are stored on the SATRA website ( and can only be accessed by members. Key words and phrases enable quick location of articles that cover many aspects of the shoemaking process, in addition to materials and components.

‘Basic Shoemaking’ – SATRA’s Basic Shoemaking book covers all aspects of footwear manufacture and has proved popular with brand owners and retailers as an office guide. It is available at a significant discount to members.

A confidential resource

It is obvious that times are changing. The demand for new products is increasing rapidly and the need for cost-effective compliance has never been more important. SATRA membership provides an unrivalled technical resource that offers members a confidential service.

How can we help?

SATRA’s global membership base is serviced by a dedicated team. Please email for further details on how to join or better utilise your SATRA membership.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 40 of the October 2015 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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