British footwear manufacturer Van Dal has launched what is believed to be the world's first ladies' fashion shoe treated with the Ion-Mask stain resistant technology.

Originally developed to protect soldiers from chemical warfare, the nano-coating applies a water repellent polymer, just nanometres thick, over the entire surface of the shoe by means of an ionised gas or 'plasma'.

Invisible to the naked eye, the process doesn't alter the look, feel or weight of the shoe in any way - but is said to be up to three times more watertight than PTFE.

The technology, which has been developed by P2i Ltd, makes the shoes hydrophobic or 'water-hating' by permanently altering the surface of the fabric at a molecular level to repel water and other liquids.

It also maintains the breathability of the shoe, as well as protecting it from scuffs and stains.

Van Dal is using the Ion-Mask treatment in its autumn/winter TLC collection featuring knee high boots, ankle boots, heeled brogues, evening shoes and ballet pumps in leather, suede and faux fur.