Hot Sheet F The Classic Tie Bar

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Hot Sheet
A p pa r e l
By Matt histand
style alert
The Classic
Tie Bar
irst came the shortsleeve dress shirt, then
the thin tie, and now
the tie bar. It’s almost as if the
fashion gods were trying to
re-create the starched look of
the early NASA control room.
Regardless of the inspiration,
the old-fashioned tie clip has
returned to Earth orbit and is
being adopted by many of the
fashion elite.
The idea behind the tie
bar is obvious: to keep the
tie in place throughout the
day or keep your tie clean
while you’re wooing clients
at a power lunch. For a while
the lazy tucked look seemed
on the verge of becoming
a breakout fashion trend,
but fortunately the tie bar
has returned to add an air of
refinement to the suit-wearing
Industry tie bars are
available in many different
styles and colors, but you
would do best to stick with
simple, clean styles. A gold
or silver bar simply engraved
or sporting a basic logo or
company icon will really stand
out best against a solidcolor tie and muted
dress shirt. *
Available from Calconix Inc.
(asi/43270); (888) 256-2544;
[email protected]
Our apparel guru
offers learned
advice on all
wearables topics.
t’s summer, so that means
the Apparel Guy is just
chillin’ out, wearing a
mesh tank top and playing
with his chest hairs that are
wisping through the holes.
Now, there’s an image. Actually
the Apparel Guy is feeling a little fried from the sun. The heat
is causing the Apparel Guy to
write in the third person.
Right now my inbox is virtually empty. Sure, some readers are saying, “What’s up
with this guy? I sent him
a request and he hasn’t
answered it yet.” OK,
so I do have some unanswered questions (over 100)
but they’re all along the lines
of, “Where can I get a 100%
cotton T-shirt?” or “Where
can I find a supplier who sells
unstructured caps?” or “I need
a purple polo shirt, does anyone carry that color?”
Let me just say that if you
are a working ad specialty distributor and you can’t find those
products, then you have bigger
problems than I can help you
with. With the amount of wearables being sold in this industry,
you should already have sources
that can provide most standard
items. While the Apparel Guy
(oops, there I go again) wants to
help, he wants to be more than
a dude who sources products.
Which brings me to my
next point: I need questions
that are a little more challenging. I once received an e-mail
in all caps but at least it posed
something of a challenge: “Is
there anyone in the USA that
makes custom bowling shirts?
Do you have any overseas manufacturers that make custom
bowling shirts?”
I think this guy needs custom bowling shirts. Although
I never got a chance to answer
his questions I did find two
ASI-listed suppliers that fit
the bill – APF Marketing
(asi/30214) and Jerico Sportswear (asi/63304).
I implore you to send those
queries to [email protected]
but please include the details.
With more information I can
figure out if what your client
wants is even practical, and if
there’s a better or more creative solution. *
Price Point:
Rugby Shirts
Fashion Find or
Faux Pas
Getting To Know:
Cathy Groves
What’s New!
How To Sell...
Sweaters & Sweatshirts86
Novelty Shirts
Fire & EMT Apparel
S watc h watc h
Fur Is Fine
Fur is back as a lining or trim
on coats and jackets, in solid
colors and natural patterns like
leopard prints. Accessories
are even getting in on the act
with fur hats and purses. But
beware: Don’t use the real
stuff. Faux fur is much preferred over the genuine material, plus it is easier to clean
and care for. AUGUST 2007
Hot Sheet
Physician Assistants
here’s a lot of talk
about the health care
market these days.
Leading the talk is the huge
need for nurse and elder care
providers. The combination of
older workers retiring, along
with Baby Boomers moving
into their senior years, will put
a strain on the existing workforce. While the demand for
nurses is strong, the demand
for physician assistants may be
even stronger
The Facts: The U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Occupation: Physician assistants are the people
who do all the jobs that doctors don’t have the time to do
throughout the day, such as
recording medical histories,
examining patients, ordering
lab tests and X-rays, treating
minor injuries and providing
counseling to patients.
The Proof: The growth
of the position is due to the
increased pressure to reduce
insurance costs. Many physician assistants have become
the principal caregivers at
The position requires only two
years of schooling and pays an
average annual salary of $69,000.
has named physician assistant
as the second-fastest-growing job, with an anticipated
49.6% growth through 2014.
clinics and offices where doctors visit only once or twice a
week. The position requires
only two years of schooling
and pays an average annual
salary of $69,000, which suggests it will become a very
popular vocation for both
new and current health care
The Goods: Scrubs are
the most obvious apparel item
that will be in demand from
physician assistants. Also
worth considering
is footwear, since
many of these
workers stand on
their feet all day at the
clinic or in surgery. Lab
coats and cardigan sweaters
with embroidery options will
also be popular alternatives. *
price point
Rough And Ready
Rugby Shirts
ugby shirts are
making an off-thefield comeback. Here
are three styles to choose
from, including a gamequality version that is ready
to play rough.
Good – This lightweight
8-ounce rugby is made
from jersey cotton with
underarm, back of neck and
placket reinforcement and
6-ounce twill collar with ¾”
reinforced tape.
Better – This 10-ounce
rugby is made from jersey
cotton with underarm,
back of neck and placket
reinforcement and 6ounce twill collar with ¾”
reinforced tape.
Best – This authentic
Barbarian Rugby is made
from 12-ounce jersey cotton
with reinforced underarms,
neck and placket and an 8.5ounce twill collar with ¾”
reinforced tape. *
Starting at …
Available from Carberry Int’l. Sports Inc. (asi/43807); (877) 632-4222;
[email protected]
From The Runway
Back To The Future
No, this isn’t a period picture from the
mid-80s. It’s a hot new style straight
off the runways of Milan. The designer
is clearly obsessed with Bill Cosby
and his garish sweaters from The
Cosby Show. But will promotional
and corporate buyers feel the same
attraction? Not likely. This style is
stuck in syndication. The verdict:
Thumbs Down
Hot Sheet
keep an eye on
re you noticing
more bare wrists
these days? Yes, the
proliferation of cell phones
and other personal digital
assistants has caused many
people to ditch the everyday
wristwatch. But watches,
especially the ones that make
a fashion statement, are anything but dead.
Just ask The Selco Companies (asi/86230). It’s debuting a new line of watches
this year called A*Belle
Promotional Time. “We
didn’t have any worries at
all about introducing a new
line,” says Don Gerber, vice
president of marketing. “In
fact, we wanted to do this
to expand our whole realm
of watch lines. We’ve always
been known as a fairly highend watch company, and we
wanted to expand it so we
can fit almost anybody’s price
The look of the line is
based on European styles
but features many modern
designs that are popular at
retail. “Traditionally Cor-
porate America has favored
two-tone or silver watches,”
says Gerber. “But now
watches have become very
much an accessory to your
overall look.”
Among the most popular
looks today is the strap style,
which now almost equals the
traditional bracelet style,
particularly with men. But
if your client is looking for
fashion find or faux pas
Stylish Socks?
It looks as if men’s socks from the 1970s are
on the verge of returning to favor. Yup, those
white athletic socks with
alternating colored stripes
are coming back, at least
according to Tommy
Hilfiger. The question is,
do they stand a chance in
the promotional industry?
the hottest style out there,
you may want to go for something that sparkles. “The
more bling the better,” says
As the fashion becomes
more important, so does
having a variety of watches
to choose from – a possible
boon for ad specialty distributors. Women always
demanded a selection of
shoes or jewelry to accent
their appearance. Now
watches are being worn just
as much for their look as
their usefulness. The fashion
element is affecting men’s
choices as well, says Gerber.
Now guys who previously
wore no jewelry aside from a
wedding ring are looking to
watches to add some flair to
their overall wardrobes. *
Available from The Selco Co. (asi/86230); (800) 947-3526; [email protected]
Apparel of all types has found a home within various corporate and
uniform programs. I certainly think socks can have such placement
– but they’ll have a fairly small impact compared to industry
heavyweights like polos, T-shirts and caps.
– Brian Thompson, vice president of sales and marketing,
Cutter & Buck (asi/47965)
“They definitely stand a chance in the promotional industry. Because
they are worn pulled up, there is a good amount of embellishment
space compared with current socks. It gives distributors yet another
palette on which to promote their customers.”
– Mindy M. Anastos, marketing & merchandising manager,
L.A. T Sportswear (asi/65948) AUGUST 2007
Hot Sheet
Cathy Groves, Dri Duck Traders Inc.
has had partnerships for
many years with companies
that have some big brands.
We’ve been really involved in
the design and production in
the realm of outerwear, but
also other types of products,
from wovens and knits to
sweatshirts and caps.
Cathy Groves is vice president
of sales and marketing for
Dri Duck.
What’s the background
of Dri Duck?
Twelve years ago a company
called Design Resources was
formed, which is a private-label
global sourcing company. It’s
privately owned by Dave and
Mary Reed. They were doing a
lot of private-label programs in
placketed shirts, woven shirts
and outerwear, including some
heavy workwear styles for
other companies.
Where did the name
come from?
The company’s full name is
Design Resources Inc., or
DRI. Then the duck was
added for the duck cloth,
which is what canvas is often
known as in the fabric world.
It’s a little play on words
along with the logo, which is a
canvas-backed duck.
DRI has a background in the
apparel industry?
Dri Duck has been in the
industry since 2003 but DRI
How did you enter the
promotional industry?
Our plan with Dri Duck was
always to build a brand name.
First we sold into retail markets. We did that very quickly
by establishing ourselves
in the workwear area, specifically in the farm and fleet
markets. Then we started to
move into some of the higherend sporting good/outdoor
stores. What evolved from
there was the promotional
products industry, which sees
a successful brand and wants
it. That was three years ago,
and our promotional products business has grown rapidly ever since.
What has been the biggest
Just keeping up with our
demand. One major change
is that we have a new warehouse. It has an inventorycontrol warehouse management system and state-of-theart equipment. We also had
to rewrite our business model
slightly. We found there were
so many types of customers
out there we couldn’t reach,
so we started using wholesalers. Now we have five that
take very nice inventories and
have their salespeople reach a
lot of customers we could not.
waterproof, element-resistant
and stain-resistant.
What are Dri Duck’s
most popular markets?
At first it was the avid worker,
then outdoor professions. It
has since grown into a whole
myriad of industries such as
fleet and farm, big-box retail-
What is Realtree?
It’s a very highly sought
out property of camouflage
invented by a famous hunter
named Bill Jordan. Last
December we secured the
license and have gone out with
We’ve introduced several
performance fabrics that you don’t
ordinarily see in the workwear
market. We have the first cotton
canvas that is completely
waterproof, element-resistant and
ers, sporting goods stores,
western wear and corporate
wear. We also just launched at
military outlets.
How is Dri Duck different from
other workwear companies?
We hit a niche in interesting
fabric innovations and design.
Canvas duck has always been
a very stiff fabric at first.
The concept was to have a
fabric that was soft from the
start, which is what we offer.
Then the right price on top
of features, such as cell phone
pocket, zippered pockets,
and hidden hoods, that make
it more upscale. We’ve also
introduced several performance fabrics that you don’t
ordinarily see in the workwear
market. We have the first cotton canvas that is completely
a full-blown line of camouflaged products. So far it has
been highly embraced at retail
as well as the promotional
industry. There are millions of
hunters and many are the same
people involved in workwear
and corporate buying.
What’s new for fall
and 2008?
You will see the Wildlife cap
line grow, which has already
had incredible growth in the
past year. We are expanding
our ladies’ styles. We are also
doing an offshoot line with
woven shirts, which is exciting
because we are known more
for our jackets. And the most
exciting thing is going to be
our new Expedition line. It
will take our fabrics and design
capabilities to a new high. *
Hot Sheet
Outer shell
treated with
Down-filled quilted
shell with full lining.
Dual zipper system for
greater comfort.
Made from no-pill
Therma microfleece.
Available from Ash City (asi/37127); (800) 761-6612; [email protected]
Available from MV Sport/Weatherproof (asi/68318);
(800) 367-7900; [email protected]
Removable buttoned-in
faux fur collar
Reversible in three
color combination.
Zip front and
rhinestone stud snap
Available from Sun Mountain Sports (asi/90139); (800) 433-9224;
[email protected]
Available from Arctic Blanket Inc.
(asi/36415); (800) 823-6890;
[email protected]
Adjustable drawstring at hem
with toggle.
Hot Sheet
• HoW to sell it
Sweaters & Sweatshirts
old weather is just
around the corner,
which means there’s
no better time to start looking
ahead to some cool weather
cover-ups, namely sweaters and
sweatshirts. Both do a great
job of keeping you warm, but
these kissing cousins couldn’t
be more different.
After the T-shirt, the sweatshirt is one of the most popular items in all of promotional
apparel. Sweatshirts were
once limited to the athletically
minded, but today are worn
by people from all walks of life
and for all occasions. They are
perfect for knocking around
the yard on a cool Saturday
morning, playing football with
some friends or taking a quick
trip to the store.
Their respectability has
grown along with the overall
increase in acceptance and
popularity of the activewear
market. Sweatshirts can now
be found in nearly every type
of market, says Cathy Billing,
marketing coordinator at
Holloway Sportswear Inc.
(asi/61430). “The team dealer
and sporting goods retail
network for team apparel
and spirit wear are very
strong for us,” she says.
“We’ve also seen growth in
the promotional market,
as more companies are
decorating the sweatshirt
with their company logo
and wearing them to the
office for casual days or on
company outings.”
Sweatshirts today cover a
wide range of varieties, from
the most stripped down basic
styles with loose fit and classic
styling to up-to-date looks with
new detailing and performance
features. Holloway’s new
“Velocity” sweatshirt features
white piping that runs down
the front of the shirt and the
arms for a fresh vertical colorcontrasting look.
But don’t go overboard
with style, colors or high-tech
performance fabrics, says Billing. The bulk of promotional
sales are still fairly traditional.
“It’s important to also provide
more conservative color
choices for the promotional
market, along with more
sophisticated styling.”
Sweaters, on the other
hand, suggest an entirely
different audience than sweatshirts. The biggest difference
is that they can be dressed up
or down depending on the
occasion. They can be worn to
work or for a walk on a fall day.
What they are matched with,
be it jeans, khakis or a skirt,
can radically alter their appearance, which actually makes
sweaters a much more versatile
item than the sweatshirt.
That said, in the promotional arena sweaters certainly don’t share the same
kind of popularity. But
that doesn’t mean they
can’t be a boon for sales
once you target the
right market. Frank
Rocco, vice president
of business relations
with Dress Code
(asi/42830), says that
when selling sweaters you should stick
to the basics.
“My pitch whenever
I talk about sweaters is to
hit buyers with the meat and
potato items – V-necks and
cardigans,” says Rocco. “Also
the items should be solid colors, because you want to have
Choosing The
Right Fabric
Sweaters come in lots of
different fabric options,
so it’s important to know
which will be best for your
client’s need. Here are
some of the most popular
• Acrylic – Similar to
wool but lightweight and
non-allergenic. It is naturally water wicking and is
easy to care for. It also has
excellent drapeability and
very little pilling.
• Cotton – It’s lightweight, breatheable and
easily embroidered, but
it has a tendency to pill
unless specially treated
and it can shrink after
repeated washings.
• Nylon – An exceptionally strong and elastic
fabric with quick-drying
properties. Static, pilling
and continuous exposure
to sunlight can be a
• Wool – This natural
fiber comes in many
different varieties and
accompanying price
points. It’s warm and
lightweight, but can be
scratchy against the skin
and must be hand washed
to avoid shrinkage.
Hot Sheet
the ability to embroider on all
the garments. That is the way
you get your foot in the door.”
Sweaters appeal to a number
of markets, such as corporate
programs, winter resorts,
schools and uniforms. Rocco
says his customers have had the
best luck with sweaters as uniforms. They have a higher perceived value than a sweatshirt,
and allow employees to dress up
their look without sacrificing
comfort or durability.
“You can wear a sweater
with an open-collared shirt
underneath or with a shirt and
tie,” says Rocco. “It eliminates
the need for a jacket and
is casual, yet it’s still more
professional looking than a
Kootenay Knitting
Company (asi/65601) produces
colorful sweaters in classic
Nordic patterns that are much
different than many of the
sweaters found in the industry.
The company is a Canadianbased manufacturer that makes
everything domestically. It
means slightly higher prices,
but results in faster order
turnaround times and a host of
unique customizing options.
Carol Jenke, sales and marketing manager for Kootenay,
says the company’s sweaters
appeal to adults over 30 (though
it does offer several children’s
styles) and especially the resort
and hotel markets. It recently
did a custom sweater for The
Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
“We took an existing pattern
and did it with their colors in a
stock Nordic pattern,” she says.
“It made the sweater unique to
them and no one else.”
Their sweaters also appeal to
corporate buyers. The company
has done work for Coca-Cola,
the British Columbia government, catalog companies and
some retail outlets. Jenke says
that sweaters also make great
gifts for employees, especially
at companies that are based
in colder climates. And sizing
won’t be an issue. “We can
do a custom sweater in a full
size range to any customer’s
requirement,” she says. “So we
can do the 2XL or 2XS. We’re a
Canadian-based company, so we
have the flexibility to do that.”
Custom-knit sweaters allow
your client to choose the
color combination and design
This dynamic sweatshirt
features a tricolor design with
raised piping.
A V-neck sweater can take the
place of a jacket for a casual
yet sophisticated look.
Available from Kootenay Knitting Co.
(asi/65601); (866) 426-7040;
[email protected]
Available from Holloway Sportswear
Inc. (asi/61430); (800) 331-5156; lisa.
[email protected]
Available from Dress Code/Prestige
(asi/42830); (800) 521-2860;
[email protected]
It eliminates the need for a
jacket and is casual, yet it’s still
more professional looking than a
– frank rocco, dress code (asi/42830)
• marketplace
This sweatshirt features deep
front hand-warmer pouch
pockets and a drawstring
hood with contrasting lining.
Available from River’s End Trading
Company (asi/82588);
(800) 488-4800;
[email protected]
Hot Sheet
• HoW to sell it
Novelty Shirts
he always fun Hawaiian and camp shirts
are hot items,
whether printed in a flashy
pattern or understated in
soothing greens and beiges.
They’re made of cotton,
rayon, silk and blended fabrics, and feature a relaxed silhouette, larger armholes and
a square bottom so they can
be worn untucked.
So why are these frequently flamboyant garments
gaining popularity? Give
thanks, in part, to Tommy
Bahama, the resort wear
manufacturer that put tropical prints in many executives’
closets. Plus, even at work,
people like to be distinguished from the pack.
Understanding the
power of individuality, Bruce
Jolesch, president of Dallasbased distributor Schroepfer Wessels Jolesch
(asi/235965), often
uses novelty shirts
for themed
incentive programs that
culminate in a
trip to a beach
destination. “We
recently took 130
people to Hawaii and
did a Hawaiian shirt
with our client’s logo,” he
They selected an
upscale Tommy Bahama
silk camp shirt with
a tasteful pattern of
golden flowers and
green leaves with a tone-ontone sleeve logo. “We gave
the shirts out the night before
the luau, and most people
wore the shirts to the event.
They were very well-received
by our clients,” Jolesch says.
Using novelty shirts for
incentives is by far their most
popular application. “With so
many of these meetings taking place in a tropical destination, a camp shirt is a natural.
And, a custom camp shirt
gives the client the ability
to have a fun shirt designed
specifically for that particular
event,” says Patrick Walsh,
president of KTP Design Co.
One custom example that
Walsh recalls involved a real
estate company planning a
sales incentive trip to Hawaii
for its top producers. “They
wanted to commemorate
the trip, so we designed a
shirt with a Hawaiian theme
and included the company’s
logo. And, to make the shirt
even more specific to the real
estate industry, we added a
fun image ­– a grass hut with a
‘For Sale’ sign.”
Themed novelty shirts ­for
sales incentives or any other
type of annual event ­can
become an annuity sale. In
that vein, Walsh has fulfilled
numerous camp shirt sales
for annual trade shows.
The shirts can become
a “watched for” symbol of a particular
exhibitor, piquing
the interest of
attendees each year
to see what the
exact theme of
the shirt will be.
Often, it’s
not the client’s
industry but
its tagline or
theme that’s the
inspiration for
a camp shirt.
“We had a dis-
Five Markets
For Camp Shirts
Novelty shirts can be great
products, but make sure
you approach the right
client sectors. Here are five
to consider:
• Restaurants. You’ll
find stock designs from chili
peppers (think Mexican
food) to pineapples (beachside dining). Or, work with
a client to custom design
a camp shirt using the
restaurant’s own logo.
• Travel. Resorts, golf
courses and cruise lines
are all perfect cohorts
for colorful theme-shirt
sales. Position the shirts as
standout uniforms for the
concierge staff or property
gift shops.
• Festivals. Every
market has annual festivals
that can lend themselves
to theme-shirt sales.
These novelty shirts are
particularly appropriate for
heritage festivals such as
Cinco de Mayo.
• High-tech companies.
The birthplace of corporate
casual, high-tech offices still
have an edgy attitude that
embraces the relaxed nature
of a camp shirt.
• Municipalities. Talk
to civic booster organizations about promoting a
welcoming atmosphere
by dressing tourist bureau
employees in camp shirts. AUGUST 2007
Hot Sheet
tributor call us looking for loud
and colorful shirts for a major
security software company,
which had a tropical theme
of ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy,’ ”
says Juan Davis, vice president
at Fast Lane Clothing Co.
(asi/53753). “They ordered one
of our more colorful tropicalfoliage shirts and had everyone
working their booth wearing
our shirts. We got called the
following week letting us know
what a huge hit it was.”
Because novelty shirts
are easily noticed in a crowd,
they’re often a good choice for
employee uniforms, ­particularly
for companies that have staffers
on a retail floor or in a restaurant where customers need to
quickly identify the individuals
who can help them.
But the shirt has to be
durable, says Tom Flippo, vice
president of sales at Dunbrooke
(asi/50930). “It must be easycare, and ready to wear. To
achieve this, stay away from
satins and dry-clean-only labels,
and go with a soft, satin-feeling fabric such as a polynosic,
poly/rayon blend that can be
machine-washed and-dried, yet
still look great.”
As for what’s popular today,
the current style trends go one
of two ways: wild, loud and
colorful or muted and conservative. Hollywood has been an
influence as well. “The vertical panels on the front of the
camp shirt is the current trend,
thanks to the sitcom ‘Two and a
Half Men’ and Charlie Sheen,”
Flippo says. “Fruity, soft, island
colors are the safest way to go.
Patterns are popular but have
to be subtle, such as palm trees;
otherwise a pattern can camouflage the company logo.”
The Cabana is one of two
new styles that Dunbrooke
introduced this year. “It’s
somewhat masculine, but very
popular,” Flippo says. The other
new style, Baja, is a knit camp
shirt, rather than a woven. Just
about any market can be a hot
opportunity for the camp shirt,
including resorts, golf courses,
restaurants, cruise ships and
corporate casual Fridays.
The key to imprinting camp
shirts is restraint. “I think
the shirt itself is the novelty,
along with subtle details, such
as palm trees woven into the
fabric,” Flippo says. Dunbrooke
typically embroiders on the left
chest or left sleeve, depending
on whether the particular shirt
has a pocket or not.
“Keep in mind the fabrics
that most camp shirts are made
of have a draping characteristic,
and when you add a pocket, it
makes it that much more difficult to decorate and make the
logo look good,” Flippo says.
“My suggestion is left front on
camp shirts with no pocket,
and left sleeve on camp shirts
with front pockets.” – TCK
• marketplace
This shirt is made from a
rayon/polyester blend for easy
care and features a tone-ontone palm tree design
Available from Dunbrooke (asi/50930);
(800) 641-3627;
[email protected]
This 100% silk camp shirt
from Bobby Chan can be
customized in dozens of ways.
This tropical-themed shirt
has genuine coconut buttons
and a pineapple logo on the
right sleeve.
Available from S&S Activewear
(asi/84358); (800) 523-2155;
[email protected]
Available from Bobby Chan
(asi/40746); (800) 280-9118;
[email protected]
This shirt from Tehama has
decorated vertical color blocks.
Available from Tehama (asi/90798);
(800) 955-9400; [email protected]
Hot Sheet
• HoW to sell it
Fire & EMT Apparel
hen Joel Gray
joined the Perry,
GA, Fire Department as its new fire chief last
September, he knew right
away changes in the staff
uniforms had to be made. “I
found firefighters wearing a
polyester shirt and poly blend
pants,” he says. “That’s not an
appropriate material.”
His concern was safety. Polyester has been proven to melt
in flames and extreme temperatures; a problem that led the U.S.
military, in fact, to ban its use in
soldiers’ uniforms in 2006. Luckily, a new wave of fabric innovations has made it possible for
public safety departments like
Perry’s to outfit their men and
women in more protective materials. Chief Gray took his case to
the director of public safety and,
with his support, then to the
City Council. All were in agreement that a change in uniform
was necessary. They looked
at several performance
blends, including Nomex,
a synthetic fabric fiber,
and Indura, an ammonia-cured fire-retardant
treated cotton fabric. “It
eliminates the need for a
jacket and is casual yet it’s
still more professional looking than a sweatshirt.”
Working with the
Command Uniform Co. out
of Macon, GA, Chief Gray
selected a cotton/Nomex
blend shirt and pants for his
crew. Switching the uniform
color from gray to dark blue,
the Chief “dressed up” the
image of the department and,
from a practical perspective,
made it easier to keep the
crew’s pants and shirts neat
and clean. “Our uniforms are
frequently stained with oil
and fuel, or get dirty crawling
through small spaces,” he says.
“We needed uniforms that
weren’t only durable but also
hid some of the stains.”
The result was a snappy
image that improved morale
at the station. The 18 men
and one woman are also much
more comfortable in their
new attire. The percentage
of cotton blended with the
Nomex allows the garments to
breathe, to release heat and to
dry out when wet.
Each client is different, so
be sure to offer them several
options. “Nomex has greater
air permeability because of the
open weave, however it does
not wick moisture away from
the body as fast as Indura,” says
David LeBel, national accounts
manager for Codet Newport
Corp. (asi/45606). “Although
the weight is heavier with
Nomex, some wearers find the
natural feel and wicking characteristics of Indura cotton
more comfortable.”
Pleased with the new shirts
and pants, Chief Gray made
one other change. He added
a coverall to the firefighters’
wardrobe. “The folks here had
never used a jumpsuit before,”
he marvels. Such a simple
concept, a one-piece suit with
zippered front can mean lifesaving minutes in the middle
of the night when an alarm
awakens firefighters. “The new
gear allows them to get out the
door quicker,” Gray says.
An added safety feature to
all the garments is reflective
tape on the sleeves and legs of
Finding Funds
New uniforms for Fire
and EMT personnel
are not cheap, and
finding the funds can be
a distributor’s biggest
problem. Chief Joel
Gray of the Perry, GA,
fire department says
his spent $16,000 to
make the transition to
safer garments. Luckily,
the local city council
approved the funds.
Some towns’ personnel
are not as fortunate.
Here is a list of Web
sites with information
about numerous
government and
nonprofit organizations
that provide funding for
equipment and uniform
upgrades. Use these
resources to help your
potential clients along in
the purchasing process.
• Department of
Homeland Security –
• Responder
Knowledge Base – https://
• Federal Emergency
Agency – http://www.
Hot Sheet
the uniforms. While the bunker
fire gear the crew uses is reflective, there are times when the
units arrive on a scene at night
in which the overalls need to be
easily seen. The new uniforms
provide for such occurrences.
Reflectivity was one of the
key features that Doug Lowe,
director of the Emergency
Medical Services in Davidson
County, NC, wanted to address
when choosing new uniforms
for his team. “As the county
has grown and more interstates came through our area, I
started looking at safety issues,
and realized that our personnel
were at high risk,” he says.
The Davidson unit had gone
through a wide variety of uni-
forms in its history, from white
lab coats to dark blue dress
slacks and shirts. Today’s environment requires garments that
offer greater visibility.
“I put a committee together
of our personnel and gave them
the opportunity to say what they
wanted in a uniform. I didn’t
care as long as it would promote
safety and have a consistent
look,” Lowe recalls. He was a
bit taken aback when the group
came to him with their selection: fluorescent green and navy
shirts. “They’re neon,” Lowe
laughs. “It definitely sticks out.”
That’s exactly the sort of
visibility he wanted. The crew
works with greater peace of
mind and comfort in their new
uniforms. The apparel isn’t only
high-visibility, it’s also treated
with a flashover material, is
resistant to blood-borne liquids
and very durable. “The garments themselves even seem to
make the crew more safety-conscious,” Lowe says. “We’ve had
a lot of good comments.”
Lowe is also pleased with
the price tag of his team’s new
look. The division paid for the
uniforms out of its own budget,
along with a few additional
funds from a performancebased allocation of monies
from the county. By choosing
a multifunction coat that has a
zip-out lining and sleeves and
is rain-resistant, Lowe was able
to get three coats for the price
Don’t forget the bottom
half of rescue personnel - or
features such as easy-care and
fade resistance.
It may seem odd to some, but
a jumpsuit can cut reaction
time down by minutes, which
is sometimes all you need to
save a life.
of one. “I’m saving $200 per
employee on uniforms when
they’re hired,” Lowe says.
And don’t forget one often
overlooked item: hand protection. Fire and EMT personnel
are often placed in situations
where hot or jagged metal
and glass are present. At those
times, proper hand protection
is essential. “When fire people
are using the Jaws of Life or an
EMT is pulling a driver from a
car, having gloves that protect
them from a broken window or
sharp metal is very important,”
says Laura Vermeire, vice president of sales for OccuNomix
International LLC (asi/74830).
“They work with their hands
every day, so it’s a real concern.”
• marketplace
Reflective striping can
literally be a lifesaver for
safety personnel working at
Available from Codet Newport Corp.
(asi/45605); (800) 992-6338;
[email protected]
Dickies Occupational Wear
(asi/49675); (866) 746-7934;
[email protected]
Available from MLF Sales (asi/68264);
(800) 633-9238; [email protected]
Rescue workers need good
hand protection when
assisting accident victims
through a broken window or
metal wreckage.
Available from OccuNomix International
LLC (asi/74830); (631) 474-0071;
[email protected]