How do you know if workwear is good quality?
Good quality workwear offers the wearer superior performance, comfort and longevity. Put simply, it looks smarter, feels better to wear, and lasts longer. This is down to the quality of fabrics, robust manufacturing processes and thorough quality controls in place to avoid sub-standard products ever reaching the end user.
At iSB group, we talk a lot about how important it is to invest in good quality workwear, but what makes workwear good quality or bad? How long should workwear really last? And what are the tell-tale signs that can help you spot products to avoid? Andrew Grinnell explains…
Good quality or poor?
A new polo shirt, sweatshirt, fleece jacket or trousers, fresh out of its packaging, will always look clean and smart. At this stage it may not be immediately obvious whether that item of workwear is of good quality or poor quality.
Often, it isn’t until your employees start to wear items for an extended period of time, and they have been through a few wash cycles, that you start to notice things aren’t as you had hoped. By then, it’s too late to do anything about it.
Lower quality fabrics don’t hold their colour as well as higher quality ones. They will tend to fade with subsequent washes. This is because they cannot be dyed at such high temperatures so the colour isn’t as embedded in the fabric as it would be on a higher quality fabric.
Stitching may break open over time with wear, and features like zips and toggle fastenings can break or become stuck.
How long should workwear last?
This is an interesting question that we get asked a lot. The first thing to establish is what we mean by how long workwear lasts. We mean, how long will it hold its colour and shape? You can still wear work trousers after they’ve lost colour and look worn, they just become a poor representation of your brand and should really be replaced. With this in mind, there is no set answer to how long items of workwear should last, as it depends on the demands of individual roles and workplaces. However, as a guide, we can tell you that it is usually longer than most people think!
At iSB Group, we would expect good quality workwear to retain its colour and shape, giving a good brand image, for 12 to 18 months or more. All our footwear comes with an 18-month guarantee, and we help businesses make the necessary changes to ensure a pair of safety gloves retains its appearance and performance for at least a month.
If your workwear isn’t lasting as long as you think it should, or would like it to, it may be time to look for a new workwear supplier. But with so many providers out there claiming to provide quality workwear, how do you spot the genuine ones from the pretenders? Well, there are a few things to look out for…
Spotting sub-standard workwear: top tips
- Stitching – Check the seams. Well-made garments will be triple-stitched for strength. Anything with single and often double, inconsistent or crossing lines of stitching should be avoided, as this indicates poor manufacturing processes.
- Bar tacks – Look out for bar tacks on stress points of garments, especially trousers. These help to reinforce and increase the lifetime of the product.
- Fabric weight – Ask your supplier about the weight of the fabric each garment is made from, which is measured in grams per square metre (GSM). As a guide, a standard work polo shirt is 220 GSM. Anything much lighter-weight than this might not be robust enough to stand up to the demands of most work environments, so consider items made from wicking fabrics instead if this is likely to be too warm.
- Zips – Only choose items with zips that say ‘YKK’ on them. YKK make the gold standard in zips, and all their products are guaranteed for the lifetime of the garment.
- Reinforcement seams – Check underneath the pockets of trousers and on the back of polo shirts, sweatshirts and fleeces. There should be extra stitching in these places to add strength to the garment under wear and help it keep its shape over time. Seams are very important for shape retention, but they do increase garment costs.
- Fleece jacket – Fleece fabric starts off thick and is shaved to the desired length depending on requirements. Shorter shaves are more expensive to buy, but will look smarter for longer as there is less depth on the fabric and therefore less likelihood of it snagging or debris getting trapped in the fibres. Embroidered logos will also look better on a shorter shave fleece. Don’t be afraid to ask a supplier about the level of shave on the fleece fabric of the garments they offer. A good supplier will be happy to answer any questions you have about any of the products they offer.
There are many more things to look out for to ensure you have good quality workwear so, if you want to know more and understand the process better, get in touch with me or the team. I’m always happy to chat!
You might also be interested in:
Workwear prices 2022: Why are workwear prices rising?
How can I reduce my workwear costs?