This October, Jermyn Street Design will be exhibiting, for the first time, at the A+A International Trade Fair for Safety, Security and Health at Work. The fair attracts corporate clothing specialists from around the world, looking to share and discover innovative solutions in protectivewear.
A more recent theme featuring at the fair this year is corporate fashion. It is vital that protectivewear is safe and fit for purpose but employers are recognising that employees’ opinion of their protectivewear is critical to job satisfaction and performance, which is why corporate clothing specialists are becoming increasingly conscious of the fashion and comfort elements to their products.
The Evolution of Hi-Vis
Hi-Visibility used to be something only worn by railway engineers and construction workers, but since the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974, a myriad of roles now require workers to wear it.
However, the image of safety that hi-vis resonated was altered somewhat, when the Metropolitan Police adopted hi-vis uniforms and gave it a more authoritative image.
Authoritative, is not something that customer service employees wish to represent and online retail is one of the industries having to face this issue. Delivery drivers are required to wear hi-visibility clothing but are performing a customer facing role, which is why brands are looking for new ways to incorporate hi-vis into stylish, fit for purpose uniforms that echo the brand’s image.
Manufacturers are working to change the look of hi-vis clothing by developing new materials and featuring the reflective aspects of hi-vis in garments without the illuminous fabrics. For example FedEx couriers are now provided with dark jackets that feature a silver reflective band across the torso and down the sleeves. UPS have also included hi-vis strips onto their coats and have designed them to resemble varsity jackets, allowing for style and warmth without the bulkiness.
3M have partnered with Safe reflections to create Eclipse 5721, a low cost, eco-friendly heat-transfer reflective that can be used with a single application. The textile uses a self-weeding design and has high-stretch capabilities, which allows designers more creative freedom than with other reflective fabrics.
Fhoss Technology is a UK-based company that provide powered light safety gear. This means that employees are visible even when there is little or no light, which can be used in conjunction with illuminous fabric or replace it.
The B2C market has also been working to provide new solutions in protectivewear, particularly in the cycling industry. As the number of cyclists has amplified, so has the demand for fashionable cycling safety gear. LFLECT is a British brand that provide premium and bespoke visibility products with a focus on fashion. LFLECT incorporate Hi-Vis material with designer garments to create scarfs, hats and other accessories that customers can wear to work and during work. Other brands such as Henrichs also work with Hi-Vis material. The latest Henrichs range features Japanese Samurai inspired capes and vests.
High –Tech fabrics are Providing Comfortable Solutions
Advancements in technology are providing many industries with the means to create new solutions and the textile industry is no exception. The development of high-tech fabrics has allowed manufacturers to improve the performance of their products i.e. breathability, waterproofing and weight.
In the past, protectivewear has often had to compromise on aesthetics and comfort in order to provide the best protection. For example, heat conserving, waterproof clothing for outdoor workers has often meant big, thick and heavy jackets. However, big, thick and heavy jackets could soon be a thing of the past thanks to high-tech solutions like Zero-Loft Aerogels. This new substance has the highest Clo value (ability to provide warmth) of any clothing, but does not need to be puffed out to create warmth (as with goose-down). Adventurer Jamie Clarke tested out a 0.15 inch Zero-Loft jacket during his climb up Mount Everest and claimed that it was the warmest coat he had ever worn.
High-tech solutions have been created to turn regular clothing into protective clothing without impacting how it looks at all. Brands such as SPF Addict work with fabrics that can provide SPF 50 sun protection. British brand Craghoppers, have combined the SPF technology with synthetic insecticides to create clothing that protects mosquitos as well as the sun.
Another issue with working in the heat is perspiration, which can cause discomfort, discolouration to fabrics and odour. Agiene is one of many anti-microbial technologies that work to prevent this, clothing treated with Agiene uses micro silver crystals to prevent the growth of the bacteria that cause the problems.
LFLECT and Henrichs are not the only brands in cycling gear that have created new solutions. Hovding is a Swedish company that was started in 2005 by two Design students from the University of Lund. During their studies, a law was introduced in Sweden that has made it mandatory for under 15’s to wear cycling helmets. This led to debates over whether helmets should also be mandatory for adults and is what inspired the invisible helmet. The helmet is only invisible until the moment of impact. The garment is worn around the neck, like a collar and senses the cyclist’s movement patterns, when these movements are recognised as unusual, the airbag inflates to protect the riders head.
Learn More at the A+A International Trade Fair
For those looking to learn more about innovative solutions in protectivewear, the A+A fair will be taking place on 27th-30th October 2015 in Dusselldorf, where the top suppliers in the industry will be exhibiting.