Corporate Workwear – A Growing Market

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Corporate Workwear – A Growing Market
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The workwear market is growing – figures suggest a global value of $42.7 billion by 2026. It is also a market that is changing. Where workwear used to be the preserve of the front of house staff or designed for those roles that are inherently practical, more and more we are seeing corporate workwear become part of the office and move beyond the frontline workers.

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What Is Corporate Workwear?

Put simply, corporate workwear is any clothing that is supplied by an employer, for an employee to wear at work. It can include everything from practical overalls to high-end office wear. Workwear works on a number of levels to improve productivity, and employers are fast realising that offering well designed, comfortable workwear can have a huge impact on both culture and perception of their brand.

“The industry post covid lockdown is now showing excellent signs of resurgence with more companies pushing their own brands" – David Barry, Director of Keltic Corporate Clothing

Benefits Of Workwear

  1. Safety

Providing protective workwear ensures employee safety. This reduces downtime and litigation. Providing a safe environment for workers is an essential requirement for any employer. Protective workwear includes things like hi-vis clothing, weatherproof clothing and impact-resistant clothing, as well as industry-specific wear such as the protection for healthcare professionals

  1. Identity

Offering quality workwear helps to create a strong sense of belonging. All members of the corporation are part of the same set of goals and values, and this can be emphasised by choosing workwear that uses company colours or a logo as part of the design.

  1. Visual Cues

Workwear also offers powerful visual cues – something that’s invaluable for industries that are involved in security or safety. The instantly recognisable livery of a security team or health care providers brings a functionality beyond the practical that is incredibly useful to both the team on the ground and those directing their function.

  1. Building The Brand

Corporate workwear is also a superb brand builder. Clothing can convey just the right image, be it fun, stylish or super slick and companies are catching on to the fact that the right clothing can convert their team to be living brand ambassadors.

What Sort Of Company Buys Corporate Workwear?

This is the real plus point for anyone considering an investment into corporate workwear. Companies all over the world have an obligation to provide safe, functional clothing for their employees. As discussed above, this can range from basic protective clothing through to style-driven outfits that create a cohesive brand image. Whatever the economic level of a company, or indeed their country of operation, the need for corporate workwear is growing and shows little sign of stopping.

What Are The Current Workwear Trends?

Alongside traditional areas like uniform, protective wear and utility wear, several key areas of growth seem set to develop over the next few years.

  • Athleisure

This versatile, comfortable clothing offers a way to harness all the benefits of workwear while making sure a team is comfortable and able to offer maximum performance. It’s especially useful in the wake of the development of things like “dark kitchens” and “dark stores” where a sense of teamwork is essential, but the formal attire of the customer-facing service is not required.

  • Fashion Focused

There is also a shift towards creating workwear that has a distinct sense of style. Corporate clothing is no longer something that is despised or disliked – savvy manufacturers are choosing to create corporate clothing that has genuine style and strong appeal to its wearers. This simple change means the market is expanding to appeal to higher-level areas of the workforce, which of course means a huge pot of growth.

What Are The Figures For The Global Workwear Market?

The global workwear market is estimated to achieve a value of around $42.7 billion by the year 2026. To break this down a little further, the corporate apparel sector is projected to be worth around $33.9 billion, and corporate footwear will take up the remaining estimated growth value.

In terms of market distribution, it is expected that the US market will account for a value of $12.1 billion in 2021 – a 35% share of the market. China is proposed to reach figures of $4.6 billion by 2026 with a percentage market share of 6.4%. Other key growth countries include Japan and Canada, which both show potential for around a 4% increase in market share by 2026. In Europe, Germany has the strongest growth potential, with an estimated 3.8% projected share.

What’s Behind This Buoyant Growth?

As well as growing awareness of the benefits of workwear for all levels within the company, simple demographic shifts are seen to have an impact. The 20-35 year age group is a growing population, that also happens to be the biggest consumer of workwear. As more of this group enter employment, then the buyer base continues to expand.

Social factors are also impacting change, and things like the increase in the female workforce mean that diversity of workwear offering has become essential, offering a wider range of options for corporate clothing.

Better Clothing - Better Growth

Advances in the tech that is applied to workwear have also had a hugely positive impact on the industry. Choosing hi-tech fabrics that offer things like anti-microbial qualities means that there are swathes of industries seeking to harness the practical benefits of workwear. Companies can choose to reflect brand values by offering organic or sustainably sourced clothing, they can offer superior protection to their workforce thanks to fabrics with improved fire resistance or anti-bacterial, and they can take steps to make their teams more comfortable by offering clothing with improved stretch and moisture-wicking. Add in the fact that technology rarely stands still and the scope for continued growth becomes clear.

Over recent years, the workwear market has proved to be one that offers a strong sense of bounce and verve, and despite changes to the way we work, the corporate clothing market seems to offer enormous potential for continued development, especially when viewed on a global scale. Variation in attitude towards workwear means that more and more members of the corporate team are seeking to part wear corporate clothing, and more and more companies are seeking to have a strong corporate workwear offering as part of their offering to potential employees.

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Ankur Shah is the founder of the Value Investing India Report, a leading independent, value oriented journal of the Indian financial markets. Ankur has more than eight years of equity research experience covering emerging markets, with a focus on India and South East Asia. He has worked as both a buy-side investment analyst for a global long/short equity hedge fund and a sell-side analyst for an emerging markets investment bank. Ankur is a graduate of Harvard Business School. You can learn more about his latest views on global markets at the Value Investing India Report. -- He can be emailed at An[email protected]
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