History in the Making
Sometimes understanding why a product is popular involves researching how and when it was invented. Recently the world has been so focused on new inventions (Twitter, tablets, e-readers) that we do not take the time to look at the necessities that have not been (and do not need to be) updated with technology. Mainly, outdoor gear like umbrellas and raincoats. In an electronic world, there is still no replacement for umbrellas and raincoats. Here is a look back at how these everyday products got their start and where they are going. Pay attention because knowing the history means knowing what you are selling.
According to About.com, umbrellas were first invented to provide shade from the sun, not the rain. In fact, the word "umbrella" derives from the Latin word "umbra," which means shade. The Chinese began waterproofing umbrellas with wax paper to shelter themselves from storms and the trend eventually made its way over to Europe. The collapsible and durable umbrellas we know today are relatively new in the overall history of the product, and we've moved far past simple wax paper for waterproofing.
"The best materials for umbrellas would be a water-resistant nylon or pongee," stated Meredith O'Brien, inside sales/customer care specialist for Storm Duds Raingear, Attleboro, Mass. (For those who do not know, pongee is a thin fabric made from silk or a silk substitute.) Additions like venting enhance the storm-proofing of umbrellas. "Venting adds an extra layer of material for the wind to flow through the umbrella helping it to not invert in heavy winds," O'Brien explained. She added that Storm Duds umbrellas have heavy gauge storm flex ribs and spreaders to combat wind as well.
Ancient umbrellas were fashion statements that were hand-made and hand-painted with delicate designs. The practice of decorating umbrellas is still widespread, but we have updated the methods. "Screen printing offers outstanding durability, color clarity and is the most cost-effective method to apply your logo [on an umbrella]," O'Brien said. She suggested heat transfers for more intricate logos. If you want to add to those intricate logos, try unique handle designs or bright fabric colors.