Ah, product innovation. It’s the backbone of every industry. Why is it so important? Product innovation can help you create new spaces in a crowded market and help you find an audience and satisfy customers needs in a new and refreshing way. Think the proliferation of on line stores, inventory control, the technology that’s enabling distributors to measure customers via an app.
But innovation doesn’t always involve the creation of a completely new product. It can also occur when you improve an existing product. For example, the first uniforms were custom, made-to-measure garments. Then along came the stock program, enabling suppliers to sell more product and move into additional market spaces. Years later, a myriad of fabric finishes with wicking, anti-static and microbial properties further grew the industry’s niche.
It is with this backdrop that NAUMD is pleased to present the 2021 Innovation Award winners. The Innovation Awards recognizes unique design, advanced technology and excellence within the public safety uniform and apparel industry. Six manufactures topped this year’s list. What distinguishes them? Take a look for yourself.
Best Badge or Emblem Design
A combination of propriety chemical processes and digital printing helped create a completely customized coloring of an agency’s existing metal badge. Existing capabilities allow for either a single color or the coloring of panels only.
No badge manufacturer has produced or markets a badge with these attributes. Competitors offer only single color or utilize stencil/hand masking methods that limit design freedom.
Best Public Safety Product Innovation
Luly Yang Couture
At the start of the pandemic, Luly Yang was driven to aid in the PPE efforts for the local community. So, pivoting her business and with a duty to safety, Luly enlisted the help of her master pattern maker, textile experts, and technical designers. She created numerous designs, patterns, filtration options, and materials, before arriving at the perfect “Luly mask.”
These face masks are as flexible as you need to be this year. Innovative nose bridge, ear strap, and chin design offer convenient coverage. Filter pocket and 3D mesh work together for increased safety and breathability so you can focus while staying active or at work.
Best Garment Innovation, Function
CID Resources/Superior Group of Companies
WonderWink RENEW and Indy Apparel
WonderWink RENEW is the first full-cycle sustainable line of healthcare apparel intended to change the way that the industry things about sustainable production. The unique garment design incorporates the reuse of five recycled water bottles into each garment. Combining recycled materials with spandex results in a flexible, feel-good fabric that shows that sustainability can exist at the intersection of comfort and fashion.
WonderWink Indy – Fashion Seal Healthcare and WonderWink, both part of Superior Group of Companies, collaborated to develop the first of its kind Industrial laundry (IL) friendly scrubs that combine fashion, fit and fabric innovation engineered to withstand the rigors of industrial laundry processing. WonderWink INDY is built on a specially formulated 100% microfiber polyester technology with mechanical stretch, engineered and tested to key industry standards for colorfastness and durability through IL processing.
Best Garment Innovation, Comfort
Elbeco, CX360 Uniform Collection
The CX360 uniform collection is a performance uniform designed for comfort with the ability to stand up to the demanding conditions of the streets, while still maintaining a professional public image. The collection features a button front shirt, trousers and an undervest shirt that can be layered under protective vests. The shirt is a faux button front shirt that is closed by a hidden zipper. There are three trouser styles: 5 pocket plain front pant, covert cargo pant and an external cargo pant.
This collection is all about enhanced fabric. The Nanospun, 4-way stretch fabric is wrinkle and pill resistant, lightweight, and non-absorbent so moisture from the skin evaporates instead of being drawn into the fabric.
Best Digital Technological Innovation
Logistik Unicorp, RFID technology
Necessity is the root of all innovation. With a monumental task to perform, and little time to do so, Logistik implemented RFID technology to scan its entire inventory. No options were commercially available for this vision, and the early versions were not suitable for the scale of their business.
The RFID technology was implemented at the item level, allowing them to accurately track the five million items that move through their warehouse each year. During an audit, the external auditors asked Logistik to do a complete cycle count of all items. Performing this task manually would have required more than 4,000 hours to count the 2.5 million items in 220,000 square feet of warehouse space.
Best Fabric Innovation
Eco-Friendly Corporate Wear and Uniform Program
BeauTela has developed over 100 sustainable products to become a one-stop shop for full sustainable collections, an accomplishment unmatched in the industry.
We all know that there really isn’t anything new with using certified recycled polyester, but BeauTela’s engineers have pushed the limits of what can be produced with recycled polyester. The fabrics developed allow the company to produce a full range of products, including kitchen uniforms, sportswear, medical uniforms, cargo pants, oxford shirts, and even t-shirts.
What innovations are you working on? It’s not too early to be thinking about the 2022 competition. Entry materials will be available in the coming months. Look for updates in The Pulse and on the web at www.naumd.com .