2023 PCIAW® Road Trip Round-up

The Professional Clothing Industry Association Worldwide (PCIAW®) works with companies across the uniform, workwear, and PPE supply chain, representing the professional clothing industry to governments and organisations across the world. In the association’s role as an ambassador of the industry, it’s important the team travels to different events and conferences across the world to learn from and engage with businesses to advance the interests of the entire professional clothing industry.

In this article, the PCIAW® editorial team would like to share with our readers what we’ve been up to in 2023, and provide some industry insights into the future of professional clothing.


Meeting with EURATEX and ETSA in Belgium to collaborate

In February, Yvette Ashby, CEO and Founder of PCIAW®, and Declan Osborn, Editor at PCIAW®, travelled to Brussels, Belgium, to meet with Dirk Vantyghem, Director-General of the European Apparel and Textile Industry (EURATEX) and Elena Lai, Secretary-General of the European Textile Services Association (ETSA) to discuss future collaborations and co-operation.

As a result of the meeting, PCIAW® invited Elena Lai to chair the PCIAW® Summit, Exhibition & Awards which took place in Porto, Portugal, which looked at the future trajectory of professional clothing. Elena’s expertise and experience in leading her association made her the perfect person to mediate and keep the conversations relevant, making sure the Summit went smoothly and provided value to all.

Dirk Vantyghem also accepted a place as a speaker at the event, discussing the EU’s new eco-regulation and its impact on professional clothing.

PCIAW® Chaired the Institute of Government Public Policy’s (IGPP) Energy and Sustainability Show

Yvette Ashby was invited by the IGPP to Chair its Energy and Sustainability Show in London on 28th February, alongside 14 speakers from the energy industry and government officials including Baroness Bennet, the former Green Party leader, and Professor Paul Monks, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS). 

The event discussed the real benefits of improving sustainability and energy efficiency in public sector supply chains whilst PCIAW® highlighted the impact that PPE has on the environment and the circular solutions to mitigate it.


Speaking at Lectra HQ in Bordeaux

At the end of March Declan and Yvette visited Lectra HQ in Bordeaux, France, to be a guest speaker at their keynote event ‘Pushing the Boundaries of On-Demand Manufacturing’, highlighting the need for circularity in the industry and discussing upcoming EU eco-design regulations.  

PCIAW® also did an interview with Lectra discussing their approach, which you can read here.


Attending the Health Safety Event in Birmingham

On the 26th of April, the team travelled to the NEC in Birmingham for the Health and Safety event, to observe emerging trends in workwear and expanding the PCIAW® network. Declan and Jamie, the content writer, met with many businesses providing workwear to the UK and Europe, including Mascot, PUMA Safety, JSP, U-Power and Leo Workwear.

The event highlighted two major trends emergent in the industry, one being the increased influence fashion is having on workwear designs, and the other being a focused presence on circular solutions rather than basic sustainability messaging which lacks end-of-life considerations.


The Emergency Services Show

Toward the end of September, the PCIAW® editorial team travelled back to Birmingham for the Emergency Services show, learning about the workwear and PPE supplier equipping frontline personnel in the ambulance, fire, and police services.

At the show, PCIAW® met with a range of companies in our network, including Cooneen, Haix, 4SYS, Keela, Hunter Apparel Solutions, Kermel, Magnum, Eagle FR, Stedfast and W.L. Gore.

The themes present at this show reinforced the sustainability and fashion trends, in addition to presenting PPE designs that better account for the comfort of the wearer. A good example of this is the Synergy 469 suit from Eagle FR, which is one of the lightest high-protection fire suits available. Designed to mitigate heart stress and heat stress, the design uses the latest lightweight FR materials to provide an optimised balance of protection and reduced weight.


Witnessing the future of professional clothing at A+A

The editorial team also ventured out to Düsseldorf, Germany, at the end of October for A+A. With thousands of exhibitors across 17 halls in one of the largest venues in Europe, there was plenty of innovation on show.

GORE-TEX showcased their new lightweight materials for footwear, offering enhanced protection and stability on a lightweight platform for more comfortable boots. Devold was also innovating in comfort, showcasing their FR knitted undergarments which use merino wool and a special blend of FR fibres to create a comfortable line of undergarments resistant to thermal hazards and arc flash incidents.

Speaking to the PCIAW® team, DuPont was representing their Kevlar® and Nomex® fibre brands for the workwear and PPE markets and their Tyvek® protective clothing offering, discussing the work they have been doing to make their production and products more sustainable and responsible. From reducing plastic packaging to making their production more energy efficient, DuPont is focusing on sustainable manufacturing for the future. The team also provided some information about Nomex® Nano and Nano Flex, DuPont’s new FR fibre which is thinner, lighter, and boasts an improved total heat loss, making it an ideal material for FR PPE which needs to be mobile and wearable for extensive periods.

DuPont’s Nomex® Nano Flex used in an FR hood

PCIAW® also spoke with Teijin ARAMID about Teijinconex® and the extensive plans the company has for the recycling of aramid fibres. While the company already has the ability to recycle its fibres into staplefibre, Teijin outlined a roadmap to full circularity, with plans to recycle fibres into usable tow by 2027 and eventually aims to develop a chemical recycling infrastructure for aramids by 2030, creating a fully circular system for protective fibres.

Outside of FR, Midas Safety displayed an interesting development in wearable technology via their Tormund2 and Ardor workwear jackets. The Tormund2 uses a programmable module to illuminate LED strips on the back and sleeves of a hi-vis jacket, allowing the wearer to be visible in low light conditions where the reflective strips aren’t likely to be illuminated by a light source. Similarly smart, the Ardor uses heat sensors and an in-built heating system to keep the wearer warm in cold conditions. The Ardor is able to be washed and disposed of responsibly, making at a sustainable choice for prolonged use too. Smart systems like those offered by Midas Safety are the next-gen items in the professional clothing industry, and it will be exciting to watch how wearable tech can help workwear and PPE provide additional benefits to the wearer.

Ardor & Tormund2 jackets from Midas Safety

Wrapping up the year

2023 has been a great year for innovation in the professional clothing industry, and the team at PCIAW® have noticed that despite the challenges of recent conflicts and the Covid-19 pandemic the industry has never lost the resolve to innovate and build better and greener solutions. The PCIAW® Summit, Exhibition & Awards was a testament to this, highlighting how companies can work with each other to overcome the difficulties of geopolitical challenges and the increasingly demanding sustainability regulations, delivering high-quality workwear and PPE to working people who need it.

The association has learnt so much from visiting these trade shows and conferences, and PCIAW® is already looking to visit a host of other trade shows across the world in 2024. In addition to learning about the latest trends, the PCIAW® also expands its network with every event the team attend, and the association takes great pride in maintaining an open mind and sustained presence in industry events throughout the year.

PCIAW® always endeavours to provide valuable insight and connections to its members and the broader professional clothing industry, and as we move into 2024 the team are excited to contribute to and report on the important events at the heart of professional clothing.

PCIAW Uniform Networks Buyer, Trusted member