Tools of the Trade
GEAR HEADS AND tech junkies aside, we are a society that is collectively set in our ways. We like what we know.
Sure, there are those moments when a new technology comes out that is so exciting, it completely revolutionizes its field and makes us rethink the way we were doing things before. Refrigerators, DVD players and cell phones come to mind.
But for most, technology at its finest simply builds upon what was already working. It helps us better know and love that which we already knew and loved. In our industry, this is particularly true in the case of rugged work apparel. Barring the release of items that will actually do the job for end-users as they take a well-deserved vacation, minor tweaks on the familiar is the name of the game.
The Unsung Heroes
"Our best products are our most traditional products," said Chris Miner, director of sales and marketing for New Haven, Indiana-based Berne Apparel. "Hooded jackets and our premium, thermal-lined sweatshirts are staples to the American workers and continue to perform well," he added.
Danny Tsai, vice president, merchandising for Tri-Mountain in Irwindale, Calif., agreed, and pointed to the company's cotton canvas jackets, safety apparel, and fire and rescue items being some of its most in-demand styles.
But however popular jackets, sweatshirts and high-visibility apparel might be, there are certain design elements that end-users need more than others.
For example, Miner suggested large pockets, pleated elbows and full-length leg zippers on bib overalls as little extras that can go a long way for end-users, considering that many work outdoors, in dangerous conditions or simply in areas where there are little to no office comforts nearby. Safety and convenience understandably factor high. "Our designers are constantly working to identify ways to make items more durable, comfortable and functional," Tsai emphasized, adding that the company's corporate-casual line will inspire future workwear innovations. In particular, two- and three-layer bonded jackets, which are warm yet lightweight, will see some action. "I think you'll start to see us experiment with that construction more on the workwear side going forward," he said.