Highsnobiety

If there is one brand that looks to the future of fashion and design, it’s XL EXTRALIGHT®. You’ll have seen its name pop up here and there, particularly around Milan Design Week, thanks to its innovative philosophy. 

What does the brand do, you might ask? Well, the technology trailblazers, also commonly referred to as an ‘ingredient brand,’ are pioneers when it comes to creating new materials and components for footwear — and yes, as you probably gathered from the name, it’s all about ‘walking with lightness.’ Flexible foam is the brand’s pièce de résistance; having collaborated with the likes of Camper, Wanderlust Vision, and Off-White, XL EXTRALIGHT® is fast becoming the smart, sustainable option for designers when it comes to constructing next-level sneakers.

XL EXTRALIGHT®, XL EXTRALIGHT®

But this piece isn’t about another collaborative shoe that the brand has helped create. Instead, we’re going on an immersive journey into the universe of XL EXTRALIGHT® and its ingredient technology that has been revolutionizing footwear and design since the early ‘90s. 

This Milan Design Week, the brand brings to life INDUSTREAM, an exhibition that gives us an anatomical analysis of the mysterious and complex process behind XL EXTRALIGHT®’s game-changing technology. From chemical science to engineering, INDUSTREAM (a hybrid of industry and stream) is an attempt to break down the nitty-gritty details, giving us a behind-the-scenes look into the weird and wonderful world of the Italian design leaders.

For almost 60 years, the brand has been producing thermoplastic, expandable, and cross-linkable compounds from polyole-fin-based granules that have made outsoles with a weight that’s three times less than the one you’ll find in your regular sneaker. A lot of heavy technological and chemical jargon I know, which is why this exhibition was so necessary. The  XL EXTRALIGHT® laboratory is now entering reality. 

Led by architect and researcher Andrea Caputo (founder of Dropcity, the new center for architecture and design in Milan) and assisted by artistic duo Invernomuto (Simone Bertuzzi and Simone Trabucchi), the exhibition gives shape and vision to the industrial side of the design brand and how it’s capable of giving form and substance to ultra-lightweight objects. XL EXTRALIGHT® believes that the concept of ‘matter’ has always been linked to human existence. If you retrace our history from the Copper Age to the frontiers of Artificial Intelligence, it’s clear to see that no revolution, whether cultural or industrial, has not been informed by the investigation between matter and technology. From steel and rare earth to silicone and oil, the evolution of our society is, without a doubt, tied to that of raw materials. 

XL EXTRALIGHT®, XL EXTRALIGHT®

Caputo and Invernomuto’s goal was to highlight not only this but also to reveal the magical scientific processes behind what, from the outside, we see as a standard industrial stream. In simple terms, this exhibition is here to tell you that every product you wear or use has an insanely incredible backstory linked to science, technology, culture, design, and human intelligence.

Carlo Vecchiola, Foam Design Product and Brand Manager at XL EXTRALIGHT®, says, “We had the idea to create something completely different from previous editions. This is why we started a conversation with Andrea Caputo and his team to end up at Dropcity, the place to be for those who want to experiment and implement new design codes and visual experiences. For the first time, since we have been exhibiting at Milan Design Week in 2014, XL EXTRALIGHT® is unveiling its industrial process from compounding to injection molding in an immersive museum itinerary. An ambitious project that we really hope involves the visitor as much as possible in our universe.”

XL EXTRALIGHT® is a brand that dreams without limits — and what better way to move into the future than just like this?

Find out more about XL EXTRALIGHT® here and check out the INDUSTREAM exhibition at Dropcity from now till April 21 at Via Giovanni Battista Sammartini 60, Milan.

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