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Read the hangtags

January 9th, 2019 / By: / My Take

My job is impacting my personal life in a somewhat unusual way: I chronically read hangtags on textile products. Clothing, housewares and especially outdoor gear get a close look. Are these flannel lounge pants 100 percent cotton? They better be. … Just how water resistant is this water-resistant jacket? … This shirt is UV resistant, but does it breathe? I won’t even get to how it looks or fits if the hangtag doesn’t say what I want.

Can you imagine what it’s like to work in purchasing for high-risk job scenarios? I like to be warm and dry when I go skiing; firefighters and warfighters have their lives on the line. So do many others in high-risk jobs. Those hang-tags—literal or figurative—are important in ways I can’t imagine when I’m perfectly comfortable in my insulated and breathable jacket, breaking trail through the north woods.

It takes time, but getting it right is important, and part of getting it right is making sure that the people wearing these carefully designed and engineered garments are not only protected (from heat, cold, fire, wind, rain, hazardous materials and so on), but they’re also comfortable. Yes, that’s important, too. Seshadri Ramkumar’s feature “Complete comfort” covers this concept in some depth. It’s a good look at how new technologies in the industry are addressing it.

And you’ll find other stories in this launch on thermal control products and new research. There’s a lot going on in this area of the industry.

Because of my job, I happen to know many of the companies that have created the technologies and that manufacture the fibers and fabrics, so I suppose I’m unusual in that way. But I bet the U.S. Army knows exactly what materials go into every single textile product they buy. In fact, they (and I would presume other textile customers) will know the details before there ever is a contract.

There may be more at stake for them. But if you have available to you, Mr. or Ms. Consumer, a product that may have exactly the performance qualities you seek, why wouldn’t you take the time to find out? Not everyone realizes that this is possible.

But … there are those hangtags, you know. Take the parka or running tights off the hanger, find those things dangling from a plastic fastener, and read up. It’ll be worth your time.


Janet Preus is senior editor of Advanced Textiles Source. You can reach her at