067 HPM 0517

HPM May 2017

67 TOOLS & EQUIPMENT Adrian Burton, owner of South East Workwear, discusses whether premium brand workwear is worth the money and looks at the alternative options out there for tradespeople When I first started selling workwear, it was back in the late 1980s when I was filling in for my father, Keith, who owned a tool supply company, and he’d started to get requests for boots and overalls. Back then workwear was basic, it was easy and the choice was much smaller in the UK. My father, who is a very smart business man and taught me everything, saw that this was going to be big and soon changed the business to workwear and embroidery, opening his first shop in Abingdon, Oxford. Fast forward to today and we have seen brands come and go, styles and materials change and now, more recently, the rise of the so-called premium brand workwear. So, what is premium brand workwear? Is it really worth the money? Should you buy it, or should you look at some of the new kids on the block? I like to call them indie brands. There are so many new manufacturers coming onto the market – spin offs of big brands using similar styles and materials – it’s hard to know if they are any good. I like the independent brands, it makes workwear more accessible to the public. Not everyone can or wants to pay £100 for a pair of work trousers. The building site these days is more like a fashion parade with power tools now putting their name to workwear and they are not always the best quality either, so don’t be fooled. Premium brand workwear manufacturers have teams of designers in their European research centres. They develop amazing styles and use the latest products and materials on the market to bring you clothing that is functional and strong. If you purchased a jacket from a walking shop, a lot of them would cost you £150 plus. However, from a workwear retailer, you will pay a fraction of the price without compromising the materials and quality. I have been lucky enough to visit some of these production facilities and they are not produced in sweat shops, but more like raceteam workshops. I was really impressed with their set up. So, you do get a great product although at a higher price. The distributors are told the retail price and we are all given our small margins to work with. As an end user you get great support if the products fail – some even offer stitching guarantees. Don’t try splitting the stitching though when you want new trousers, they will just repair them, these guys have got wise to that old trick. So now, what about these indie workwear producers? Will it save you money or is it false economy? I was lucky enough to chat to a great guy called Nauman who owns a company called Standsafe. He has come from a very large sports clothing brand and has great experience in the sourcing of quality products and brilliant contacts in manufacturing. He is producing products that would, if they carried a premium brand tag, cost you a great deal more. Nauman puts a lot of time and effort into the quality control and finish. This really shows when you see the products. I have also recently been selling a lot of workwear from an up-andcoming brand called Herock. These guys are a big company from Belgium. I wouldn’t class them as indie, but Adrian talks about the benefits of ‘shopping around’ and why installers should consider ‘indie’ workwear brands they are just breaking the market in the UK with some fantastic products. The fit of the trousers and the features you get for your money are second to none. Unfortunately, these brands are a little harder to find off the shelf in the UK, but I would invest the time if you are looking to save some money on workwear. So in short, my advice when kitting out you and your team is: don’t just go with the same old big brands you know. Pick up the phone and see what is new on the market, tell the workwear experts what you normally have and get something new and exciting and save yourself a few pounds. Premium vs indie www.hpmmag.com May 2017 enquiry number 111


HPM May 2017
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