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Uniforms - modern day suits of armor

Jun '07
Whether it's a cleanroom jump suit or an identifiable shirt and pant combination, some 1.2 million people will begin wearing uniforms this year at work.

They will join 33 million others wearing uniforms on the job and continuing a tradition that dates to Caesar's Roman legions - and beyond - to wear performance apparel that's functional, protective and recognizable in design, says Robert Isaacson, Director of Marketing for UniFirst, a national uniform provider.

"It doesn't matter if someone is marching from Athens to Sparta, servicing a sports car, or greeting customers at an office supply store, uniforms reflect our need to perform a task safely and comfortably," he says.

"Throw in the fact that uniforms can instill a sense of team-like camaraderie and provide companies with a form of 'free advertising,' and you have a powerful combination of reasons for their growing popularity."

Although the essential purpose for using uniforms - their functionality - has stood pat over the years, their protective attributes have clearly marched forward.

The fabrics used in some uniforms, for example, can whisk moisture away from the skin and repel staining. Other fabrics can destroy illness-bearing bacteria, or help shield wearers from debilitating electrical burns and chemical spills. At the same time, form has not been left behind.

"If you peel away the personalized branding elements of modern uniforms, such as embroidered company logos, you'll find styles that are right in step with contemporary fashion," Isaacson says.

Meanwhile, Isaacson notes that as discoveries are made in nano- and biotechnologies, they will almost certainly be incorporated into modern work apparel.

"Proof of that can already be seen in a current trend to develop uniforms using wearable electronic fabrics that can keep tabs on a wearer's vital signs and even dispense necessary first-aid medications," Isaacson says.

UniFirst Corporation

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