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Greener garments

21 September 2022

With ladies increasingly working in former male-dominated industries, Sean Wood takes a look at changes in the workwear market, including flame retardant clothing for women and sustainability.

TODAY’S EVER-changing workplace shows that more women are working in former male-dominated environments. In addition, many large companies are striving for a more equal workplace. Tranemo acknowledges these changes and we have chosen to take a big step forward in the promotion of Flame Retardant clothing for women.

Clothing that is ill fitting can create additional unwanted risks, such as being a snag or trip hazard or having the potential to be caught in moving machinery parts. Any PPE that does not fit properly is less likely to be worn by the user. Therefore, it is imperative that all users have access to comfortable, well-fitting clothing that gives them the best possible protection. 

As many roles that require Flame Retardant Clothing are performed outdoors, it is important that ladies fit clothing extends past the “basics.” Users work in a variety of different conditions where temperature and weather can be hugely variable. This means that the clothing must provide protection against driving rain and biting winds, but it also must be breathable and moisture wicking for comfort on warmer days, or for more physical applications that generate body heat. This requires a multi-layer clothing system that is both functional and compatible, ensuring the relevant levels of protection, whilst still allowing the user to perform their role easily. It is vital that all these garments are available in Ladies fit sizing, not just the basic garments.

Tranemo developed our Skinsafe range by taking a human-centric approach to its design, putting the individual at the focus of the protection and using Flame Retardant layering from the inside out. The use of multiple thin layers instead of one thick layer ensures that protection values are reached but maintaining the necessary freedom of movement that is required. 

Many of our Skinsafe ranges begin with our Flame Retardant Merino Base Layers. In the event of an accident, wearing the wrong under garments can lead to the fabric melting and burning into your skin. Merino Wool has many unique features; it is soft and comfortable against the skin, moisture wicking and temperate regulating while having anti-bacterial properties.

Laundering ability

In order to maintain their cleanliness and hygiene, Tranemo garments from our Skinsafe layering system are washable at 60 degrees centigrade. This is also an important factor when it comes to restoring hi visibility garments as close to their original condition as possible. Heavily soiled Hi Vis garments do not provide adequate visibility and many companies are now much more stringent, preventing employees or contractors with dirty hi vis garments from entering site until a replacement garment has been issued.

Arguably, this laundering capability also has one of the biggest impacts on sustainability. 

Sustainability - The big buzzword on everyone’s lips right now.
There are many factors that require change to make workwear more ‘sustainable.’

From the volume of water used in the farming of cotton and the toxicity of chemicals in the different dyeing methods. The vast tonnes of production waste and the enormous carbon footprint of fossil fuel use, in what is a very energy intensive process. There is a massive reliance on Air freight, to ship goods around the world too. The impact on sustainability from each of these factors is undoubtedly huge. 

Although many different fibres are being evaluated to try to provide viable, more sustainable alternatives; many of the manufacturing processes are difficult to change in the short term and some newly developed ‘sustainable’ fabrics have key performance limitations. 

Tranemo’s World Care Programme works to reduce all these external factors, however there is one thing that we can all do immediately which has a significant impact on sustainability.

Choose a product with a longer life cycle. It really is that simple.

Garments that last longer give tangible ‘cost-in-use’ savings making the overall price more favourable.

Typically they are better quality and have a greater wearer acceptance - meaning a happier workforce (and we all know a happier workforce is a more productive workforce right!?!)

A saying we have at Tranemo is “The Greenest garment is the one we have not yet made” and as such, we concentrate our energies on making our garments last as long as possible.

We do this by using better quality fabrics, premium components and by reinforcing high wear areas. Subsequently our garments have one of the longest life cycles in the industry today, often outlasting our closest competitors’ products more than twice over.

The ability to launder garments at higher temperatures means that even heavily soiled garments can be restored to acceptable levels of visibility and cleanliness where other products would have needed to be replaced. Less replacement garments means less Purchase Orders being raised. CIPS (Chartered Institute of Purchase and Supply) have calculated the average cost of raising a Purchase Order as approximately £50, irrespective of the PO value. 

For example, if you were to buy a Jacket for £50 and then replace this twice more over a year – your actual cost of purchase is £300. 

3x £50 Jackets = £150
3x £50 Administration costs = £150
Total £300

Now, if you bought one Jacket that cost £100 but this lasted the entire year without requiring replacement, this would, in total, cost you £150

1x £100 Jacket = £100
1x £50 Administration Cost = £50
Total £150 

Saving £150

So, not only is this option the most environmentally friendly but it is also most commercially sound too.

Who says sustainability is expensive?

The Total Cost of Ownership (or Cost in Use) model is not one that is unfamiliar to many of us. In fact, most of us will use this in our day to day lives with our everyday purchases. The most famous household product to market this model is probably a certain brand of washing up liquid that claimed to last twice as long as its nearest competitors’ products. This claim was in fact ratified by the Advertising Agencies Authority following a complaint from its main rival. 

There are undoubtedly more ‘everyday’ examples I could reference, but whilst we all look at the value that a product represents when it is our own hard-earned cash we are handing over, it begs the question why we aren’t applying the same core principles when it comes to our procurement. 

Can we really say we are being sustainable with our company purchases when we are buying products that require frequent replacement?

To ensure we have a planet for our children, our grandchildren, and our great grandchildren it is of critical importance that we all look to adopt more sustainable approach as soon as possible. 

Sean Wood is UK sales director at Tranemo Workwear. For more information, visit www.tranemoworkwear.co.uk