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Analysis of the North American Workwear and Uniforms Market

  • April 2013
  • -
  • Frost & Sullivan
  • -
  • 209 pages


Table of Contents

Fabric Innovations Hold the Future of the Mature Market

This research service provides a detailed analysis of the workwear and uniforms market in North America. The study period is 2009 to 2017. The scope of the study covers the workwear used across diverse industrial corporate and governmental sectors. The market is split into direct and rental distribution channels and the study provides detailed insight into these two channels in terms of trends, revenues and forecasts. Detailed country analysis is provided for the United States and Canada. Product and technology trends are covered and key market driving and restraining forces are described. Key competitive factors are identified and strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the top market participants are provided.

Executive Summary

• The North American workwear and uniforms market generated revenue of $X million in 2012 and is expected to reach $X billion in 2017.
• The North American workwear and uniforms market is mature, with a CAGR of Xpercent.
• The market is divided into three product groups: general workwear, corporate workwear, and uniforms.
• The market revenue is divided into direct retail revenue and rental revenue. The distribution structure is analyzed in detail for each category.
• Each workwear market segment is in a different stage of growth. White workwear, which includes healthcare and hospitality workwear, is likely to experience the highest growth in the forecast period.
• Innovations in fabric technologies and increasing awareness of end users for a multitude of fabric enhancements promote price growth and, therefore, drive revenue.
• Rental companies have dominated the North American market in the past.
• The continuing impact of the economic crisis and consequent changes in customer preferences for direct buying restrain market growth for the rental channel.
• Price, inventory, and quality of service are expected to be the key competitive factors throughout the forecast period.
• Participants range from small domestic manufacturers focused on a single type of workwear to several large multinational corporations that manufacture and offer a wide range of workwear products.
• Many rental companies and commercial launderers compete and collaborate with workwear manufacturers and enjoy a leading market presence.
• With increasing customer demand for high-performance fabrics, the market is set to see growth through increased collaborations with fabric manufacturers.

CEO's Perspective

1. Post-recession employment uncertainties have increased the customer preference for direct buying over a rental system.
2. Innovations in the workwear market center on performance fabrics. Different workwear products demand different enhancements.
3. The increasing importance of corporate branding offers scope for corporate workwear through adoption in newer end-user sectors.
4. Market growth is expected to come from expanding businesses across sectors due to delays in replacing existing contracts.
5. Healthcare and food service uniforms offer significant scope for growth in both the direct buying and rental channels.

Fabric Trends in the Workwear and Uniforms Market

• Fabric is the main focus in the workwear industry. The manufacturers select fabrics, keeping in mind the comfort and durability of the workwear.
• Cotton and polyester have always dominated the traditional workwear market. Different blends of the two fabrics are offered depending upon the work environment and purpose of the workwear.
• High cotton content yields durability, comfort, absorbency, and breathability, while a balanced polyester content offers the advantages of color fastness and longevity.
• Offering good durability and breathability for heavy-industry workwear, X-percent cotton blends are used mainly in the food services sector of white workwear and, sometimes in the blue workwear market.
• Standard workwear fabrics for general and casual wear are generally made of a mix of polyester and cotton.
• The standard ratio is about Xpercent polyester and X percent cotton.
• The cotton/polyester balance is unlikely to change for standard workwear, because it will most often need to be able to withstand industrial washing.
• Nylon is increasingly popular for use in general wear, because it is light, durable, and water repellent. Many large workwear manufacturers are beginning to choose nylon for general wear.
• To a lesser extent, Xpercent cotton and polyester fabrics are used in certain instances.
• Polyester is gaining more penetration in the workwear market, because it is the preferred choice in high-performance fabrics.
• With the market moving toward specialty fabrics, the market for pure polyester is expected to grow in the forecast period.

High-performance Fabrics in the Workwear Industry
• Workwear manufacturers rely on fabric companies to develop innovative products. In some cases, they collaborate with fabric manufacturers to develop specific requirements.
• Workwear companies incorporate various performance characteristics—sweat absorption and protection against bacteria, for example—into the fabric.
• Customer preferences for such characteristics vary across the different end users of workwear. Some of the widely used performance fabrics are described below.

Moisture Management Fabrics
In moisture-wicking fabrics, the inner surface of the fabric is hydrophilic and rapidly removes all moisture excreted from the skin. The outer surface of the fabric dries rapidly, keeping the wearer cool and fresh.

Anti-microbial Fabrics
• There are two types of antimicrobial fabrics: leaching and bound.
• Leaching fabrics are the most popular and have a slow-release mechanism that constantly releases ions that kill bacteria onto the fabric surface.
• Bound antimicrobial finishes are permanently attached to the fabric and kill bacteria by effectively spearing them as they come close to the fabric.
• The lifetime of a bound finish is much longer than that of a leaching finish.

Stretch Fabrics
• This type of garment cooperates with the body's natural movement and can increase worker productivity.
• With innovative technology, such garments look fresh longer and have much-needed improvements, such as crease retention, color retention, wrinkle resistance, and soil release.
• This line of shirts and pants is suitable for retail employees, delivery personnel, service and repair technicians, and manufacturing workers.
• Stretch garments are preferred by women in particular for their superior fit.

Organic Workwear
• Organic, or green, workwear is the most commonly used type in all kinds of environmentally conscious businesses.
• Many companies started looking for organic methods of procuring, producing, and selling workwear products.
• Pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers are used in the growing process for conventional cotton, so customers are looking for organic cotton, which does not have any synthetic components.
• In the future, organic workwear is likely to take some market share away from conventional workwear, especially in the corporate casual workwear.

Key Questions This Study Will Answer

• Is the market growing, how long will it continue to grow, and at what rate?
• Are the existing competitors structured correctly to meet customer needs?
• On what growth areas do suppliers need to focus in the shrinking market?
• How will the distribution structure of the market change with time?
• Are the products and services offered today meeting customer needs, or is additional development needed?

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