Developing high performance workwear31 October 2017
Tony Vince examines some of the developments in workwear and personal protective equipment for those workers operating in particularly challenging environments
Workers increasingly demand that their protective clothing (PPE) is comfortable to wear as well as providing the required protection. Comfort was once given scant priority by PPE designers but today the industry has been making strenuous efforts to find the right balance between comfort and the need for protection. The use of high performance fabrics with moisture management and thermal regulation properties has become widespread.
Work and safety wear business BACA revealed its very latest leading safety solutions at this year’s Safety & Health Expo at London’s ExCel. The safety and work wear specialist, which celebrated its 30th birthday during June, showcased pioneering protective hi-vis and workwear launched from its Veltuff range at the event.
Marc Calder, managing director of BACA, says the UK market is very strong. “What we are finding is that people want better quality work wear and are not so cost conscious.”
Although the company does not sell directly to the laundry industry, he explained that a lot of thought about the end user and their requirements is always at the forefront of the design process when creating any new range, including durable design features that mean the garments stand the test of time.
Calder says: “We add 60C wash hi-viz tape to all the new Veltuff DK range of items that we offer. We are constantly gaining new customers who are looking to lift staff morale by supplying their work force with quality, high performance work wear and are benefitting from being able to provide their employees with the comfort that the garments in our Veltuff range offers.
“We recently staged a successful trial of our latest Veltuff hi-viz range, which is available for the first time in the UK and its been successfully received. Taking part in the trial has been a variety of companies including CMG and Volvo Construction Equipment, which have provided more than 600 of its engineers with the latest Veltuff hi-viz range.
“The safety wear has industrial wash hi-viz tape so it lasts longer and there’s double stitching on the tape.
“All the seams are triple stitched and the stitching comes with a lifetime guarantee – something unique to BACA. The seams are very important to ensure the longevity of this essential safety workwear, which is why we decided to provide the lifetime guarantee. Amongst the unanimously positive feedback we received during the recent trial was how well the garments maintained their appearance wash after wash.”
BACA continues to expand its ranges and services specialising in providing bespoke, branded garments to organisations and businesses alongside offering a rapid personalised in-house embroidery service.
Flame retardant fabrics
Carrington, Europe’s leading producer of flame retardant fabrics, launched two new flame retardant products alongside a new range of stretch fabrics for the workwear industry at this year’s Professional Clothing Show and both were shortlisted for awards.
The Flamestat Satin 225 Pro2 won first place at the event, with Carrington’s Flametougher 280AS fabric taking third place. Flametougher has been developed for workers operating in particularly challenging environments – such as oil refineries – where there is a demand for multi-norm fabrics with both flame retardant and antistatic properties. Developed in close collaboration with Cordura fabric, Flametougher uses Cordura NYCO fabric technology for long-lasting performance, helping to extend the lifespan of garments.
Retaining the same long lasting flame retardant qualities of Flametougher, Flamestat Satin 225 Pro2 is a lightweight, comfortable fabric, designed to meet today’s increasing multipurpose garment requirements. Withstanding precipitation, fog and ground humidity, the fabric remains breathable and keeps the wearer dry, even in heavy downpours. Both the Flametougher 280AS and Flamestat Satin 225 Pro2 were shortlisted in the Best Fabric and Fibre Innovation category at the Professional Clothing Awards 2017.
One of Europe’s largest workwear suppliers, Carrington supports many of the world’s largest employers – spanning sectors from heavy industry to health. Formed in Lancashire, UK, in 1891, the company continues to lead the industry in personal protective equipment. Carrington’s current product range meets demand across four main areas: general workwear, flame retardants, waterproofing and the defence sector. Operating in 75 countries worldwide, customers include McDonalds, UPS, BUPA, TATA Steel, Shell, Coca Cola, Airbus, Jaguar Land Rover, BP and Arcelor Mittal.
Carrington also exhibited its Stretch fabric, which was launched earlier this year at TechTextil. Designed to meet the growing demand for garments with built-in comfort, the Stretch range combines the tenacity of polyester and the breathability of cotton to produce a yarn engineered to give permanent elasticity. This allows garments to flex and respond without placing strain on their construction, and enables the material to retain its original shape and appearance, even after industrial laundering. Charles Wilson, sales manager at Carrington says: “Everything we do has the worker at its heart and we’re continually looking at new processes and technologies to deliver optimum functionality, durability and comfort.”
DuPont Protection Solutions launched DuPont Tychem 2000 SFR, a new chemical and secondary flame protection garment. This latest addition to the broad offering of DuPont Tyvek and Tychem protective apparel solutions is designed for use in refineries, petrochemical plants, laboratories and hazardous maintenance operations where dual protection against chemical and fire hazard threats is paramount to worker safety. “Tychem 2000 SFR is the latest in a long line of innovative solutions that DuPont has introduced since the early 1970s to address the evolving protective apparel needs of workers around the globe,” said David Domnisch, global marketing manager for Tyvek Protective Apparel. “This is just the first of several new protective apparel solutions that we will be launching in our Tyvek and Tychem product range during 2017 as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tyvek while remaining firmly focused on the future.”
Tychem 2000 SFR provides an effective barrier against a range of inorganic acids and bases, plus industrial cleaning chemicals, as well as particles. In the event of a flash fire, Tychem 2000 SFR garments will not ignite, and therefore do not contribute to additional burn injury if the wearer uses appropriate flame-resistant (FR) personal protective equipment (PPE). If a fire hazard exists, Tychem 2000 SFR garments must be worn over an appropriate FR garment, along with other PPE that protects workers’ faces, hands and feet. Features include a respirator fit hood with DuPont ProShield 6 SFR fabric lining; chin flap with double-sided adhesive tape for secure placement; elastic at the waist and tunneled elastic at the hood, wrist and ankle for improved fit. The garment design includes a single flap closure over the zipper, with double-sided adhesive tape for additional chemical protection.”
Upturn in demand
As one of Europe’s largest privately owned manufacturer of workwear, Mascot is seeing a definite upturn in demand from the industrial sector, says managing director Michael Grosbøl.
At the same time, it is important that Mascot take its social responsibility seriously. Besides focusing on social responsibility at the headquarters in Silkeborg, Denmark, Mascot also focuses on fulfilling its ethical, social and environmental responsibility around the world, including its production facilities in Vietnam and Laos, both of which are SA 8000 certified. “By having our own factories with European management, we do not only achieve an increase in efficiency and product quality, we also ensure that our products are manufactured under good and safe working conditions,” says Grosbøl.
“It is becoming increasingly important for companies to be able to document their effort in CSR when communicating with customers. The customers prefer to do business with someone, who is both behaving in a decent manner and is also in control of things. We are sending a clear message to our sub-suppliers that they cannot compromise when it comes to social responsibility. In SA 8000 there is also a continuous control of our sub-suppliers,” says Grosbøl.
Constructing the right image
One of the most important things in the restaurant and hospitality industry is constructing the right image that will ensure customers keep returning time after time, says Rick Shonfeld, director, Tibard/Oliver Harvey. Tibard is a family-run, international supplier of workwear uniforms, based in Manchester. “While your food and restaurant ambiance will ultimately play a big role in keeping customers happy, so too will the restaurant uniforms that your staff wear. It is important to complement the food that you serve with staff that look professional and are clearly distinguished as employees of the business,” he explains.
Choosing a uniform is not that easy though, after all different job functions require different clothes and styles in order to ensure that your customers know exactly what their role in the restaurant is. This can make it hard work for a restaurant manager when it comes to procuring the right restaurant uniforms as there are many different considerations that must be made.
One product line where the company has seen manufacturing demand explode over the last two years is for aprons. “While they have always been popular items due to their low cost and one size fits all appeal, recently we are seeing more attention paid by customers to getting their apron their way,” he says. “As we manufacture in the UK, we can provide bespoke workwear quickly and cost effectively, and aprons are one item that are relatively cheap to produce even when they are bespoke.
“We are seeing an increased interest from customers wanting their own choice of electric colours, all brand matched to their bright and vibrant businesses - a far cry from the black and grey aprons of the past.”
He says is not just the colour that businesses are increasingly starting to dictate, it is the choice of fabric. Again, aprons are the easiest item to produce and short rolls of fabric, while not cheap, are cost effective given the outcome. “We have seen denims, linens, tweeds, canvas and leather all regularly requested by customers who are all looking to standout and make their uniforms a talking point.”
Another trend is the changing methods of garment personalisation. Historically, restaurant workwear has stuck with embroidery as the method of choice but now that is being challenged. “We now see more and more screen printing, especially for informal items like t shirts and hoodies – larger logos, brighter colours: it’s not hard to see why it is being favoured.”
Shonfeld adds: “Every garment that we provide, either bespoke or off the shelf, is put forward because it is of high quality, and this includes the structure of the fabric and its colour fastness. There is absolutely no point in providing a product that will either fall apart or suffer from deteriorating print after a couple of washes.”