The head of sales at high-visibility specialists Leo Workwear explains why women’s workwear, sustainability and performance are driving innovation in this sector

What are the key design trends in hi-vis garments this year?

Advances in the quality and performance of heat-applied reflective tape mean that manufacturers now have much more confidence in using it, instead of the traditional sew-on style. Heat-applied tape can be shaped to different patterns and can be segmented, allowing us to make garments with more stretch, which aids freedom of movement. We’re seeing a trend towards garments with a more modern fit, more attractive designs and better performance. The focus is very much on aiding the wearer’s day-to-day comfort, regardless of the sector they may be working in.

How is the hi-vis sector addressing the growing demand for gender-specific workwear styles?

There’s been a big move towards providing appropriate workwear for women. Four years ago we introduced the popular Rosemoor Jacket, and this offering has now grown to 14 different styles. We’ve also introduced a high-visibility maternity range and a modesty tunic. We’ve conducted several research days with women who work in high-visibility clothing every day, most recently with Multiplex and Hanson UK, to make sure we are continuously improving the range.

What are the most popular colour choices in the hi-vis market?

We’re limited by the high-visibility standard ISO 20471, which specifies the use of only fluorescent yellow, orange or, less commonly, red. The most popular two-tone varieties are yellow/ navy and orange/navy, but there has been a recent shift in popularity to red/ grey, which offers something a little different. Leo has brought out many new styles in red/grey over the last few months. Some sectors, such as the rail industry, have their own standard stating the specific orange colour that garments must be (RIS-3279-TOM).

What about the fabrics used in the construction of hi-vis garments?

We expect a big push on sustainable fabrics that reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing clothing. We’ve replaced the fabric on our well- established Coolviz range to EcoVizrp (100% recycled polyester), which fully conforms to the high-visibility standard ISO 20471. The move will reduce the emissions produced in the manufacture of these garments by 50%.

Do you have any advice on decorating hi-vis apparel?

As the majority of high-visibility garments are made from polyester, heat-applied transfers glue to the fabric very well. With garments that provide protection from the rain, you can add heat-applied decoration without compromising the waterproofing of the garment.

What are the main regulations that users of hi-vis items need to be aware of?

There have been changes made to EN 343, which is the standard for measuring how waterproof and breathable a garment is. Historically, a garment could meet class 1, 2 or 3 for waterproofing and breathability, but a class 4 has now been introduced. We recently brought to market our highest specification waterproof anorak, the Marisco, and accompanying overtrouser, the Lundy, which meet the new class 4 in both categories.

What’s the single best piece of marketing or sales advice you can give to Images readers to help them sell more hi-vis products?

I would advise that they look for quality and performance in the garments they are buying, as these will ultimately offer the best long-term value and ensure end users are wearing products that they feel happy to work in.

Leo Workwear will be exhibiting at the A+A exhibition in Düsseldorf from 5-8 November, 2019, in Hall 9, Stand A69.