Increase Your Sweat Equity
When dealing with extreme climates, dirt and grease, this group of fashionistas have an entirely different color wheel and we are definitely not talking about the latest shades of mauve or turquoise. "Most garments are created in brown, black and green shades in order to camouflage dirt and stains," said Strain. Klein echoed these color options, stating, "I would say that navy and basic brown are the top colors, with black moving up. Hunter green used to be a top seller, but is now behind the others."
Fabric also plays a significant role for the serious workman. This gear is expected to last for years, therefore comfort and breathability are top priorities. "Cotton canvas is the most popular fabric in the work-wear market because it is durable, long-lasting and machine-washable," Strain said. On the same topic, Klein listed 100 percent cotton, plied yarn and a heavy fabric weight as important factors to consider when looking for good, durable clothing.
When it comes to styles and cuts, the best advice is to keep it simple. "Jackets are always the top-seller, which includes hooded jackets," explained Klein. "We are seeing a demand for insulated bib overalls as well. The great thing about bibs is that they can be embroidered on the chest, whereas pants, of course, are normally not embroidered."
While almost every industry has been hit by recessional woes, the rugged work wear segment continues to see a steady demand for products. "[It] is a great niche to serve because work wear is always in high demand," said Strain. "With classic silhouettes and interest in technical fabrics, the product base is expanding and also capturing a new market of outdoor enthusiasts."
The key to selling rugged work wear is to start selling now. Forget the 90-degree heat and start picking up the phone. "Target companies that have larger numbers of outside employees," suggested Klein. Although unlined products sell well throughout the year, sales for this segment gain momentum as the temperatures cool down. As Strain stated, "Sales for rugged work wear are usually greater in the colder months, which is why it is important for garments to be well-crafted in order to protect the wearer from the extreme outdoor elements."