John Miln, chairman of the newly formed Professional Clothing Industry Association Worldwide (PCIAW) and industry veteran, discusses significant developments in professional clothing and what the future holds for the sector

What have been the most significant advances in professional clothing in recent years?
The PPE sector has certainly seen the most advances over the last few years. Over the last decade, the government has deemed that all emergency services personnel must be dressed appropriately at all levels. As a result, we have seen significant developments in the design and innovation of such apparel, especially in relation to electric arc exposure. Going forward, I expect PPE to continue to be the leader, closely followed by workwear.

What impact are fabric developments having on professional clothing?
We have seen a tremendous amount of innovation in technical garments to support the needs of the PPE sector. Also, in the last ten years, workwear has developed far more than people realise. It continues to have massive growth because of the fabric tech that comes out of companies like Cordura, Klopmans, Carringtons and others in this field.

Do you expect smart fabrics to start being used in professional clothing and, if so, in what way?
Yes, however, it all comes down to price. It is a price-driven industry and if the technology to create the innovation that is needed for smart fabrics can be used then it will grow, but it will depend if it is cost-effective. Companies have been asking more and more about smart fabrics in all areas, especially in the PPE and corporatewear sector.

Why do you think there is a need for a professional clothing association?
As an economically important industry, it is important that the voices of those who drive it are heard and their views considered in key discussions and decisions. While there are many associations established for the wider fashion and clothing industry, there aren’t any that focus specifically on the challenges and opportunities available to those in the professional clothing industry. A dedicated association will unite manufacturers, distributors, buyers and suppliers to create a worldwide network from which collaboration, innovation and further organisational development can stem, ultimately supporting our economy.

How is the association going to manage the different expectations and problems facing the numerous sub groups in this sector?
Broadly the industry covers corporatewear, workwear and PPE, but the industry is multi-faceted and complex. To reflect that diversity, ten prominent industry leaders have been selected to join the board with me. They are representative of the breadth of the industry and the likely cross-section of membership to ensure the association truly represents all sectors within it. The board will help shape the future of the association and in doing so, the future of the industry and our economy.

How will the association support its members?
The association website is a comprehensive resource compiled by industry experts and those with access to privileged information. The site will act as a hub for sharing updates, insights and best practice in addition to other member only data and business opportunities. We will also deliver a range of events to support professional development and will be announcing the first one at the Professional Clothing Awards in June. At that event, I will also be sharing a development which will provide members with a wide range of development opportunities over and above those delivered directly by the association.

How will garment decorators benefit from being part of the association, and what will the cost be?
The association has been designed to make its member companies stand out head and shoulders above their competitors. Membership of the association gives the stamp of approval that the company is certified to deal with any of the major players within our industry. Regarding cost, it has been set across the board for every company based on turnover; more information can be found at www.pciaw.org.

What’s the single best piece of advice you can give to Images readers to help them sell more professional clothing garments to their customers?
Be the innovator. Stick to what you know and do it well. Deliver on time – never over-promise, and always over-deliver.

www.pciaw.org