Published 01.16.24

Fabric, Fit, Function: Why it Matters for Workwear Apparel

Work apparel has a come a long way from heavy, stiff fabrics. Advances in fabric, fit and function make today’s workwear more comfortable.

The average American worker spends one-third of their life at work. It stands to reason, then, that those who wear work apparel — whether it’s a job requirement or because they choose to do so — want to wear clothing and accessories that don’t sacrifice comfort or style. Fortunately, advancements in design and technology have led to game-changing innovations in workwear fabric, fit and function. 

The Right Fabric for The Job
The right fabric can make or break work apparel. Fabrics like denim or thick cotton can be inflexible, constricting and hot. Certain materials are flammable, putting workers whose jobs are in hazardous zones at greater risk. On the other hand, fabrics that breathe, flex and include features like moisture-wicking technology can keep workers cool and comfortable on the job. For workers who need flame resistant clothing (FRC), there’s now an unprecedented selection of FRC to choose from to help reduce the risk of injury.

Research backs this up. Cintas surveyed 1,000 professionals in industrial jobs in 12 cities to learn more about what they want to wear to work. Overwhelmingly, respondents prioritized comfort and mobility (91%), durability (85%) and fabric (84%). 

Innovations in fabric and textiles have come a long way from the heavy wool clothes that once dominated apparel. Today’s poly/cotton blend work shirts are breathable and move with employees to help them stay focused on the job. Durable cotton or stretch ripstop fabric enables workers to bend, twist and flex during tough jobs without worrying about rips, tears or stretching out fabric. 

Proper Fit for Safety and Style
When it comes to apparel, one size rarely fits all. Not only is it a matter of comfort (and even confidence), but improperly fitting apparel can be a safety hazard. Pants that are too long or shirts that are too loose can get caught in steps, doors or machinery. Offering comfortable apparel in a wide range of sizes can go a long way in making employees feel confident when working.

It's also important to keep in mind that fit goes beyond sizes. It includes offering women’s fits. Women make up roughly 46% of the workforce. And, the number of women in trade jobs is growing. There were over 314,000 women in trade in 2021, the highest number ever. Gone are the days when women are expected to wear heavy and too-big clothing. Instead, employers and companies like Cintas offer work apparel specifically made for women, like specially cut pants and cargo shorts that provide more movement through the hips and thighs, Carhartt® Women’s Rugged Flex® jeans and a line of performance-based shirts with contour fits and shaped hemlines.

Features That Promote Function Benefit Employees (and the Job They Do)
Roomy pockets to keep tools, gear, PPE or phones within reach. Thoughtfully designed features like fleeced-lined jackets to keep your team warm, or breathable flame resistant clothing that prioritizes safety without sacrificing comfort. Scrub tops with designated pen stalls and badge tabs for healthcare teams. Tailored apparel to showcase style and polish for casino staff. Apparel designed for employees — and their jobs — delivers comfortable, functional and useful garments that elevate appearance and make for a smoother workday.

Putting It All Together: Benefits of A Managed Apparel Program
It’s clear that today’s apparel is light years ahead of where it was even a decade ago. But how do you go about making sure employees have the apparel they want — and need? A managed apparel program delivers convenience you didn’t know existed. Here’s how it works:

  • Choice: Employees choose from apparel that’s been pre-selected and approved by you, the employer. With choices that range from polos, button downs, khakis and other work pants all in a variety of colors to highly technical safety gear, including flame resistant or high-vis gear, your employees choose what looks and feels good for them, and you can feel confident it will reflect well on your business. 
  • Stress-Free Delivery. Cintas delivers the garments your team has selected. While there, a dedicated representative will collect apparel that’s ready to be laundered. It’s entered into a garment inventory management system that carefully tracks each piece during the laundering process, ensuring it’s delivered right back to you. 
  • Professional, Hygienic Laundering. Unlike home laundering, you can count on Cintas to follow industry standards that hygienically and safely clean garments so you can feel confident every item is ready for use.
  • Inspection & Repair. Before garments are laundered, they’re professionally inspected by Cintas partners. Torn, ripped garments are repaired. Buttons are replaced. Apparel that’s past its prime is replaced. 
  • Returned to You. Cintas delivers professionally packaged, clean apparel right to your business, for easy pickup by your employees. The cycle starts again with another pick up of garments that are ready to be laundered.

Not only does a managed apparel program take care of all the details, but a high-quality apparel program can also deliver real business benefits, including:

  • Attracting, Retaining Employees. Employers with a professional workwear program can offer fully paid-for uniforms as part of their benefits package – saving employees as much as $2,000 each year on the cost of buying, laundering and maintaining workwear. These substantial cost savings can be a helpful tool for recruiting new employees.
  • Sustainability Wins. Corporate sustainability efforts continue to gain in importance among employees and consumers. In fact, 68% of potential employees are more willing to accept positions from environmentally sustainable companies. Professional laundering services offer significant energy efficiencies compared to traditional at-home laundry. Cintas has developed technologies and processes that help improve these efficiencies even more.

Learn more about how a managed workwear program can help meet the needs of your employees and business goals. Contact Cintas today.