As the world’s most important sectoral platform for personal protective equipment and protective clothing A+A in Düsseldorf has, over the past few years, also succeeded in gradually improving its position in the field of Corporate Fashion. It now rates as one of the most important international events for this segment – which is something that trade visitors from workplace security management, marketing, specialist retail or company purchasing departments can once again see for themselves from 27 to 30 October. Of the almost 1,800 exhibitors at least 60 companies alone ‘flag up’ Corporate Fashion as their special focal point and a total of some 180 exhibitors will be presenting products and services in this field. Current collections will also be on show in the A+A Fashion Show in Hall 11 (with daily shows at the fair).
A current clear trend in workwear is that it has to send out an emotional message. Function remains a key topic here but modern workwear also has to look cool. It should be desirable to wearers – and not be limited to its area of application. “As design edges ever more in focus, price is becoming secondary,” is the experience of Joachim Geyer, from the firm Kübler from Plüdershausen.
So workwear is becoming more fashionable and increasingly overlapping with trendy outdoor clothing. And according to CWS-boco, more and more SMEs are recognising the need for workwear. “The main idea here is to convey a uniform professional image of employees to customers and the public. This is how to convey expertise,” explains Werner Münnich from CWS-boco.
“Stylish, multi-coloured garments are in fashion,” explains Joachim Geyer (Kübler) though he does mention that every sector has its own specificities and is impacted by individual developments. Yet this is not the entire picture. Acceptance is also important – which means shorts in summer and all-weather jackets in winter – obviously everything in bright and matching colours. With all-weather clothing the motto is “Workwear meets Leisurewear” – featuring garments like cardigans and/or fleece-softshell jackets that are also totally suitable for leisure use.
With fashion trends and developments all tending to great emotionalisation, the importance of protective wear is also growing. For ever more professional activities employees have to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Personal protective equipment is subject to strict norms that are uniformly regulated across the EU. The numerous quality suppliers presented at A+A 2015 can position themselves particularly well on the market in this field. These suppliers stand for high-quality clothing with the best possible protection, appealing design plus wear comfort that also meets the demands of industrial cleaning.
Function in all Details
However, it is also the “fine details” that distinguish the new generation of Corporate Fashion. Lightweight blends with functional properties like dirt, and water-repellent finishes are noticeably replacing heavy wovens. Thanks to new weaves such as the “Kübler Ripstop-Gewebe”, today thinner materials are even more robust than conventional ones. Cutting technology details include lengthened jackets as well as trousers that are cut higher at the back for users who often have to work while kneeling. Pockets on painting overalls are designed in such a way that brushes and other tools can be stored safely while still being easy to access.
Generally, high-visibility clothing is a key theme. Heren Kwintet, Helly Hansen and other workwear specialists have established high-vis lines on the market. The styles range from waistcoats and parkas through to high-vis pilot jackets and waisted trousers and dungarees.
In addition to this new lightness and high-visibility, there are also other features. For instance, multinorm garments – i.e. covering as many hazards in one set of garments (for instance, protection against fire, chemicals, heat and/or internal arcs). What is promoted in some sectors as protective clothing (i.e. personal protective equipment ‘PPE’ that employers have to provide) is seen in other sectors as an “add on“. These garments are often opted for but they do not have to be certified – which makes purchases even in smaller batches or as a single buy possible.
For instance, Kübler boasts the clothing series “Safety X” with up to eight norms offered in one modular system. This gives wearers the individual opportunity to perfectly protect themselves regardless of the hazard potential. Bardusch is successful with its “work&protect” clothing concept that represents a visually coordinating combination of workwear and PPE.
Gardening Wear is Still Green, Green, Green
A+A 2015 will also demonstrate that there is a great deal going on in the colour department at present. Classic segmentation according to craft and guild and trade no longer necessarily applies. Painter decorators still like to wear white, gardeners, and landscape designers green and roofers grey. Yet companies are now increasingly requesting corporate colours not only on the clothing’s logo. Regardless of this, blue remains a popular colour, by all means also used in pale varieties. Also popular are earthy tones with little design elements in yellow, orange and green as well as grey-black combinations. The two-tone look is increasingly replacing plain-coloured clothing.
Jeans Cuts determine the Modern Look
When it comes to silhouettes Matthias von Lilienhoff (Kwintet) sums it up: “waistbands sit lower, trousers are a little looser, have no front pleat and preferably feature a jeans cut.” Overall, shapes and fits are becoming slimmer.
So it comes as no surprise, says Harald Goost (BP – Bierbaum Proenen), that women’s styles are gaining ground. Those failing to offer special fits and solutions for women, says Harald Goost (BP – Bierbaum Proenen), do not meet the needs of the labour market and are not able to outfit large companies. However, requirements in each sector differ. In catering, the hospitality trade, the food industry or the gardening sector the proportion of women is still considerably higher than it is in the automobile sector or among roofers. Nevertheless, here, too, women need clothing that suits them and they want to wear.
Sustainability and “Value Added Services”
There is scarcely anyone closer to the working population, their protection and well-being than the manufacturers of workwear. It therefore seems obvious that sustainability should play a major role. For instance, Kwintet is the first workwear specialist to join the FairWear Foundation. The FairWear Foundation stands for social standards based on openness and transparency. This includes such things as fair payment, a ban on child labour, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.
Meanwhile, CWS boco and Kübler are members of the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI). This is a non-profit organisation which aims to safeguard and continually improve socially responsible negotiations in the global supply chains of European commercial enterprises. As a rule, the products from workwear manufacturers are also tested for hazardous substances and are often certified according to the “Oeko-Tex” 100 standard.
Product-related services also go without saying with high-quality suppliers. As a modular system typical services include specific special custom products for complete Corporate Fashion, various sewing and patching services, embroidered emblems, direct embroidery, name emblems as well as reflective elements.
And what is set to move the market in future? “Sustainability and multi-functionality,” says Thomas Lange, Managing Director at GermanFashion and member of the A+A advisory board. “Nanotechology will be a topic,” believes Joachim Geyer (Kübler). Suitability to industrial washing remains a key topic. “And obviously, the Internet will impact and alter the distribution channels of the future to an even greater extent,” says Harald Goost (BP).
Wherever their “journey takes them”, trade visitors to A+A 2015 will be presented the current trends in Düsseldorf from 27 – 30 October.
Author: Kirsten Rein, Freelance Trade Journalist for Fashion and Technical Textiles (Frankfurt a. M.)