Waterproof Outerwear

SIC 2385

Industry report:

This category includes establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing raincoats and other waterproof outerwear from purchased rubberized fabrics, plastics, and similar materials. Included in this industry are establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing waterproof or water-repellent outerwear from purchased woven or knit fabrics other than wool. Establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing men's and boys' oiled-fabric work clothing are classified in SIC 2326: Men's and Boys' Work Clothing. Those manufacturing vulcanized rubber clothing and clothing made from rubberized fabrics produced in the same establishment are classified in SIC 3069: Fabricated Rubber Products, Not Elsewhere Classified.

Raincoats or all-weather coats constitute the largest share of merchandise produced by establishments classified in this industry. The end of the twentieth century returned polyurethane-coated fabrics to the forefront of raincoat fashion. Polyurethane gave fabrics the shiny look associated with rain slickers of the 1960s. Twenty-first century versions of the shiny raincoat benefited from improvements in the technology used to coat the fabrics. Softer fabrics such as rayon, cotton, and polyester could be used to back a very thin layer of polyurethane, creating a much more comfortable garment than was previously possible. In addition, technological improvements expanded the number of soft styles available. Some manufacturers used microfibers, as well as sueded cotton and velvet treated with water-repellent chemicals. These improvements in waterproofing techniques gave linens an important role in outerwear for the first time.

Although the market for rainwear declined in the 1980s and 1990s, all-weather gear and apparel was more fashionable by the late 1990s. Some customers were buying raincoats and all-weather waterproof coats as alternatives to other types of coats instead of focusing entirely on their functional aspects. The introduction of shorter raincoats, which were 34 to 37 inches long instead of the traditional 48 to 50 inches, increased sales significantly. In addition, new "high-tech" fibers and finishes such as Tencel polynosics, suede and twill-weave polyester, and high-twist wools made raincoats wearable in all kinds of weather. These all-weather garments were known as hybrid coats or bridge coats.

By the mid-2000s, the industry buzzwords were "soft-shell" fabrics and the "breathability" of a material in addition to a garment's waterproof properties. Traditionally, outdoor enthusiasts were confined to wearing three layers of materials to keep warm and dry: functional underwear, an insulating layer, and an outer waterproof layer. However, new soft-shell laminate fabrics combined these three factors into one breathable, warm, and waterproof fabric. This soft-shell fabric consisted of a soft microfleece or flannel bonded to a mesh layer, with a permeable (breathable) laminated membrane in the middle. Reducing layers of clothing had the additional advantage of increasing freedom of movement for sports enthusiasts and those active outdoors.

According to Dun and Bradstreet's 2009 Industry Reports, 1,179 workers were employed by the waterproof outerwear industry in the late 2000s, and total annual sales in the category equaled $130.2 million. Of the 108 establishments that manufactured waterproof outerwear, 14 were located in California; New York was home to 11; and Florida, Massachusetts, Utah, and Washington each had 6. All other states had at least one. Almost all the companies in this business, 89 percent, employed fewer than 50 workers. In terms of sales, Georgia was the number-one state with $27.1 million, followed by Louisiana with $20.3 million, New Jersey with $15.5 million, and Missouri with $12.0 million.

As with other sectors of the apparel industry, waterproof outerwear faced increasing competition from overseas, particularly China, in the late 2000s. According to the National Council of Textile Organizations, China took a record 54 percent of the U.S. apparel import market in November 2008. The American Apparel & Footwear Association reported that between 93 percent and 98 percent (depending on the type of coat) of the outerwear purchased by Americans in 2007 was imported.

In terms of state-of-the-art fabric technology, W.L. Gore & Associates Inc. was the industry's leader. Headquartered in Newark, Delaware, this private company manufactured GoreTex brand fabrics. Waterproof GoreTex soft-shell laminate fabrics were used by leading outerwear apparel manufacturers such as L.L. Bean, Nike, Solomon, Mountain Equipment, Vuarnet, Burton, Peak Performance, Scott, Quicksilver, Rip Curl, and Sessions in their products. In the late 2000s, when W.L. Gore had annual sales of around $2.0 billion, the company offered the VARI-HOT zip-in liner in some of its waterproof coats. This liner could keep wearers warm for up to 11 hours and recharged with a car or wall charger. Other important producers of waterproof outerwear included Blauer Manufacturing Co. (Boston) with $37.3 million in 2008 sales and Polartec LLC (Lawrence, Massachusetts) with $200 million in annual sales. Polartec, formerly Malden Mills, was sold to Chrysalis Capital Partners in 2007 after it filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in five years. Other leading manufacturers of waterproof outerwear were Forecaster of Boston Inc. (Fall River, Massachusetts); Helly-Hansen U.S. Inc. (Auburn, Washington); Sterlingwear of Boston Inc. (Boston, Massachusetts); and Wippette International Inc. (Hicksville, New York).

Industry participants continued to look for ways to make waterproof outerwear more comfortable and more effective in the late 2000s. For example, a research team at the University of Zurich created a waterproof fabric that, according to a 2009 Business Week article, deposits a thin layer of tiny, flexible silicone needles, or 'nanofilaments,' on cloth. The needles trap air molecules, thus sealing the surface so that it never comes into contact with water." Researcher Stefan Seeger claimed that the special cloth, the manufacture of which was in the process of being commercialized in 2009, made outerwear much stronger and resistant to water as well as being more breathable.

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News and information about Waterproof Outerwear

Dickies adds rainwear to work crew. (Dickies Workwear signs waterproof outerwear marketing agreement with Rainfair Inc.) (Mass Appeal) (Brief Article)
Daily News Record; January 27, 1995; 265 words
...new licensing agreement between 72-year-old Dickies Workwear and 114 year-old Rainfair to market a line of waterproof outerwear under the Dickies name. This is Dickies' newest addition to its licensed lineup which includes work boots, socks...
Waterproof Outerwear comes in fluorescent orange.(Tingley Rubber Corporation Introduces Its Popular Icon(TM) In Fluorescent Orange)
Product News Network; November 4, 2011; 416 words
Conforming to ANSI/ISEA 107 standard for waterproof, breathable, high visibility products, Icon(TM) Jacket and Overall provide comfort and safety in tough work environments. Jacket includes mic tabs, clear badge holder, and 2-way zippers. Fluorescent orange-red background material is optimized for
Waterproof Outerwear Sales Boosts British Retailer Blacks Leisure.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News; May 6, 2004; 355 words
By Fiona Walsh, Evening Standard, London Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News May 6--Waterproofs have been flying off the shelves in the past few weeks at camping and boardwear group Blacks Leisure, which owns the Millets chain. Sales of boardwear and lightweight summer clothing have, not
Waterproof outerwear.(ppe PRODUCT UPDATE)
Industrial Safety & Hygiene News; December 1, 2005; 206 words
Circle 297 The new MP3[TM], Multi-Performance Trilaminate, from NASCO is a breathable, flash fire, electric arc and chemical splash protective Nomex[R] outerwear system. Available with a fleece lining, the versatile waterproof, lightweight outerwear can be worn all year round, in all four seasons.
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Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland); February 25, 2018; 700+ words
...padded winter coats away in favour of something a bit lighter. I'm a fan of Protected Species, who specialise in waterproof outerwear for women, the collection is stylish and cool but, most importantly, functional. I have the petrol blue parka...
Stark Realities
Winnipeg Free Press; December 30, 2017; 700+ words
...crows’ daily migration strikes the eye as symbolic. A rezoning in progress. Everything is on sale except for waterproof outerwear” — taken together with the former statements, the otherwise bland note about the lack of a sale on floodwear...
Protect Yourself and Your Animals during Cold Weather
US Fed News Service, Including US State News; January 3, 2018; 700+ words
...PROBLEMS BEFORE THEY OCCUR:When heading out in cold weather, remember the following:* Water-resistant or waterproof outerwear is advisable to reduce the risk of hypothermia. Dress in layers of loose-fitting clothes, including extra socks...
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Mena Report; April 30, 2017; 468 words
...n. 3 500 possibly increased up to an additional n. 10 500 in the next three years for additional deliveries. Waterproof Outerwear: n. 8000 may be raised up to an additional n. 30,000 in the next three years for additional deliveries. summer...

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