Share This

The 2010 Winners Circle: 8 Honored in Annual UNIVATOR Awards

UnivatorLogoUniformMarket News has named eight winners in its annual UNIVATOR Awards, a program that honors the leading ideas, creations, services and innovators that have influenced the industry over the past year.

Winning concepts came from all market segments: law enforcement, public safety, corporate and chef apparel, and medical apparel. Three of the eight companies White Swan, Elbeco and Clipper Corp. are first-time UNIVATOR recipients; the rest are returnees to the winners circle.

In its sixth year, the UNIVATOR Awards place the acclaim and attention where it belongs, with the manufacturers, distributors and designers who have time and again proved proactive in thought and accomplishment. By giving these concepts the exposure they deserve, UNIVATOR pays tribute to these achievements and is an acknowledgement of a job well done. Widely popular and well regarded, the awards quite simply are the industrys highest honor.

White Swan

Product Innovation Licensed Brand Name

For those who work long hours and are on their feet most of the day, comfort is probably high on the priority list. The new line of scrubs by Jockey, brought to market by White Swan, offers that and much more.

Last year, Jockey entered into a licensing agreement with White Swan, giving the health care apparel industry leader rights to design, produce and distribute a line of Jockey branded medical apparel for health care professionals via uniform retailers.

Underscoring its emphasis on long-lasting comfort, the Jockey line has collections with names like 365, 24/7 and 180.

Active wear inspired, the 365 Collection features jersey knit tops and pants that require little care but offer great style. Tops are available in long and short sleeves with a practical two-pocket design and go best with the carefree, yoga-style pant.

Getting back to basics has never looked so good than with the 24/7 Collection. Simply styled, the unisex pieces come in a tri-blend fabric for a look that is comfortable and trend setting.

Finally, the 180 Collection helps wearers get in touch with their feminine side. Woven and soft knit fabrication come together beautifully to complement any figure. The 1-by-1 rib-knit tunnel elastic waistband on the pants provides comfort without compromising appearance. The two-pocket tri-blend top features a jewel neck, front and back princess seaming, and rib-knit accents at the waist and on the sleeves for a softer look and fit. Look for a line of lab coats and jackets in the near future.

We like this match made in heaven, which
is a win for both retailers and medical professionals. Jockey is an excellent partner for White Swan and a perfect brand for the healthcare apparel industry. Jockey brings both the retailer and end user instant name recognition and a brand they trust. Retailers have an exciting, well-known name to offer their customers, who will undoubtedly be pleased with the style, fit, performance and, oh yes, comfort of these fashion-forward scrubs.

We expect great things from White Swan, and they never disappoint. This first UNIVATOR will undoubtedly not be the last.

More information about White Swan can be found at
Learn more about Jockey by visiting

Fechheimer Brothers Co.

Launch of a New Line New Brand Name

Fechheimer shook up the tactical wear market in a big way last year with its launch of Vertx, a line of shirts and pants designed for todays law enforcement and military professional. The Vertx brand is an internal startup of Fechheimer Brothers Co., a Berkshire Hathaway Co. A collaborative effort between Fechheimer, Canadian firm Arcteryx, and federal law enforcement, the Vertx brand draws upon Fechheimers expertise in tailored garment production, Arcteryxs unrivaled design ability and the battle-tested skill of federal operators to produce a progressive tactical pant.

Designed by and for the “operational athlete,” the Vertx line is for the wearer who wants to combine low profile with the function of a battle garment. What makes the pants so special? In a word, fit. Both the mens and womens version, in 98 percent cotton and 2 percent Lycra, have a gusseted crotch, articulated knee, and Advantage Stretch for optimal comfort. While this may sound like a business casual garment, the seven multi-purpose pockets for items like mobile coms, handcuffs or spare ammunition betray its battle functionality.

Technology, too, plays an integral role in the line. Vertx polos are made of moisture-wicking polyester and utilize the patent-pending coldblack technology from Schoeller Technologies. coldblack reflects up to 80 percent of the suns rays, giving dark-colored clothing the properties of their lighter counterparts. Durable and comfortable, the raglan sleeve assures ease of movement, while the non-roll collar maintains its professional look even after numerous washings. Look for jackets and shorts to be added to the Vertx line this spring.

Fechheimers acute understanding of the public safety market has enabled it to pull off the ultimate balancing act. Vertx clothing has a presentable appearance, yet still retains much-needed utility, filling a special niche in the current space. The understated approach is proof positive that sometimes less is more, that feature-rich apparel isnt always what people want. As one fan on Facebook recently commented, “Pants dont have to be laden with pockets to be useful to the user.”

Leading-edge technology also makes this line a winner. coldblack is perfect for the public safety market, where most agencies wear dark apparel. Look for more products in Vertx and Fechheimers Flying Cross lines to incorporate the technology.

Vertx is a product line on the move, and as such, very UNIVATOR worthy. Learn more by visiting

Perfection Uniforms

Eco-Friendly Products Law Enforcement

Last year, blue became a little bit greener thanks to Perfection Uniforms.

In spring of 2009, Perfection entered into a partnership with Unifi, the North Carolina manufacturer of 100 percent recycled yarns and announced plans to introduce a line of eco-responsible law enforcement uniforms. An entire green initiative began soon thereafter as Perfection switched to using Repreve recycled polyester in its MatrixSeries, its best-selling line of poly/cotton blends.

Not all law enforcement departments wear blue uniforms of course, but most are steeped in tradition, and recycled wear isnt exactly a household item in the market. But the concept makes sense. Steve Gilkeson, Perfections executive vice president, says, “Environmental stewardship is very compatible with the mission of governmental agencies and one that taxpayers recognize and appreciate.”

The production of goods made from recycled materials like Repreve means reduced energy output and less reliance on crude oil. And by recycling, less waste goes into landfills, which decreases air, land and water pollution. “Eco-responsible garments allow taxpayer dollars to be invested toward the dual purpose of supplying necessary uniforms while making an investment in the greater good,” notes Gilkeson. “Manufacturing uniforms made from Repreve is simply the right thing to do.”

It may be the right thing to do, but will selling eco-friendly clothing lead to sales conversion? Can cash-strapped government agencies afford to go green?

As consumers become more environmentally aware, the demand for eco-responsible products has increased, driving down their costs, says Gilkeson. Moreover, many state agencies give preference to recycled products, with California, Maryland and New York leading the way. “With the uproar over government bailouts, the general public is watching to see how its tax dollars are spent,” continues Gilkeson. “They want accountability, investment over spending, and thats what eco-responsible uniforms are all about.”

Perfections eco-friendly line has it all: socially conscious products, a great PR and marketing campaign (the investment over spending argument), and an issue that everyone can feel good about. Whats not to like?

Dig beneath the hype, however, and its the product line that really stands out and what makes this entry UNIVATOR worthy. The MatrixEco and PinnacleEco lines have retained the superior quality that consumers have long associated with Perfection Uniforms.

Agencies who invest in these garments will continue to enjoy much-loved fabric technologies such as H2Tech, which repels liquids on the outside while wicking away moisture on the inside, H2Flex engineered stretch, and H2UltraDye which, unlike conventional vat-dye processes, actually pushes the dye through the fabric instead of staining the threads. The eco-friendly line is a win for the planet, the uniform industry and Perfection, and we are delighted to honor it with a UNIVATOR.

For more information about Perfection Uniforms, visit

5.11 Tactical

Extension of a Product Line

Always pushing the envelope, 5.11 has done it again with its new Patrol Duty Uniform (PDU).

Meeting the uniform requirements of todays police officer isnt always easy. Those on the beat want comfort and function, while top brass are often more concerned with appearance. Thanks to 5.11, the two dont have to be mutually exclusive.

The Patrol Duty Uniform blends the function of a tactical uniform with the look of a formal uniform, a perfect combination of comfort, movement, utility and safety. Made of durable 65/35 poly/cotton ripstop or twill, the fabric is Teflon treated for stain and soil resistance. The comfortable, breathable material has superior, long-term fade resistance. For added convenience, the tough, economical wash-and-wear fabric saves hundreds of dry cleaning dollars per year.

The 5.11 team actively courts end-user input before introducing many new products, and this case was no exception. Among the features officers requested was an expandable comfort waist and, for the womens version, a natural waistline as well, explaining that females need duty belts to rest at a more natural position in order to draw weapons from a safe height.

Also on their wish list was a diamond-gusseted crotch. The added feature means the pants are more durable, lasting longer before the seams come apart. “Its the best thing for officers getting in and out of the car all day long, climbing over fences and taking a knee to handcuff someone,” notes one 5.11 customer.

Features on the PDU shirt include bi-swing shoulders for east of movement and a mic-cord pass-through just above the duty belt for use with an ear piece. Also included on the Class B are 5.11s Hidden Document Pockets, pen slots, a button-covered placket with a YKK zipper, epaulets, underarm vents and adjustable wrist cuffs.

Class B pants boast flat-front styling, permanent creases and a flashlight pocket on the back of the leg. Class A pants have a hidden zipper side-seam pocket, while the Class B pant includes large double-entry cargo pockets and a secure covert pocket.

So what caught our eye? Heck, lets face it; 5.11 was UNIVATOR worthy before there was such an award. Theyve pioneered many of the styles worn by todays law enforcement professional and revolutionized the industry by adding design options that customers clamor for. As far as we can tell, 5.11 has another winner on its hands.

To learn more, visit

Elbecos Duty Maxx & Ladies Choice

Fabric Innovation & Design

Touted as the “most comfortable uniform in the market,” Elbeco last year rolled out its Duty Maxx and Ladies Choice lines, two offerings that merge technology with the latest in fabrication for a look that is Class A all the way. But dont be fooled; these arent your fathers Class As. Duty Maxx and Ladies Choice trousers and shirts feel like the kind of clothing officers wear off duty.

Whats the secret? Fabric. Elbecos exclusive low-luster 75/25 poly/rayon in a tropical weave provides a rich appearance, while the permanent 14 percent stretch means the garment wont pitch or grab the wearer, allowing for increased range of movement and maximum comfort. And the stretch is inherent to the fabric, achieved without the use of Lycra.

Duty Maxx shirts and trousers incorporate some of the most desired performance features, like NANO fluid-repellency technology that causes fluids to bead up and roll off the fabric for the life of the garment, so officers stay dry and comfortable while maintaining a stain-free, professional appearance. Uniforms wont fade either; built-in 40+ UV protection guards from the sun and keeps officers looking top notch no matter what the climate.

These design elements can also be found in Elbecos Ladies Choice line, the first public safety trouser designed by and for female officers. The Ladies Choice design allows for the pant to fit the curves of a woman. Through the development of a contoured waistband, a shortened front rise and a reshaped high hip, women now have a pant that fits and flatters.

In addition to comfort, there are safety and health benefits as well. Since the trouser sits at the natural waist, it provides better access to duty belts and weapons. Anecdotal accounts suggest that because the belt sits in the proper location, it has helped ease heath-related issues like back pain.

Elbeco has accomplished what some in the industry dream about: the manufacture of classic, comfortable public safety uniforms without relying on additional fabric folds or mechanical contraptions to achieve its goal. Elbeco engineered the back yoke on shirts, taking advantage of the inherent stretch and doing away with the need for a bi-swing. Trousers are combined with the companys new Duty Fit waistband, eliminating the more common and less reliable “tuxedo” version. And women everywhere can now feel part of their public safety department instead of on the fringe courtesy of the Ladies Choice line.

Best of all, garments can be home laundered, saving money without compromising quality. Low maintenance, high resiliency, and cost-conscious who says you cant have it all?

To learn more, visit and


Eco-Friendly Products Corporate Apparel

Cintas continues to build on its eco-friendly tailored line with the addition of the Momentum Suiting Collection. We were impressed by the line last year, and we are equally charmed in 2010.

Momentum features a stretch, wrinkle-resistant fabric made of a 54/42/4 blend of recycled polyester, wool and Lycra. The polyester is comprised of 13 percent recycled plastic water bottles, reducing energy used in the manufacturing process by up to 33 percent. Available in black, charcoal and navy, the new Momentum line has been updated with a meshlining around the shoulders of the blazer for flexibility and added comfort.

Momentum joins an already extensive line of sustainable solutions for hotels from Cintas. Chemicals in Cintas facility service solutions are Green Seal certified and distributed in chemical dispensing units that eliminate waste.

In Cintas 2009 fiscal year, Cintas
document management recycling program salvaged more than 4.36 million trees, 21.5 million gallons of oil, 769,000 cubic yards of landfill space and 1.8 billions gallons of water. Promotional products made of bamboo, recycled stainless steel and corn plastic are also available to hotels.

“Cintas is making strides to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Gretchen McIntyre, Cintas senior marketing manager, in a recent press statement. “By incorporating recyclable materials into our number one selling collection, we not only reduce our environmental impact but provide hoteliers with solutions to improve the sustainability of their businesses.”

Weve made no secret about our admiration of Cintas; the company has won at least one UNIVATOR in each of the contests six years. With this collection, customers get the best of all worlds, backed by Cintas, one of the most respected brands in the business: They receive a garment with sophistication and long-wearing performance, along with the reassurance that they are reducing the amount of waste going into landfills and incinerators.

And in tough economic times, it also provides value to the wearer. Garments can be laundered at home, saving employees approximately $1,000 on dry cleaning, a business not known for its eco-friendly policies.

For more information about all of the eco-friendly solutions from Cintas, please go to

Clipper Corp.

Program Design & Implementation

Best known for its Grand Slam Breakfasts, Dennys Restaurants is also making a name for itself with those who count most these days younger customers thanks to the brilliant uniform designs of Clipper Corp.

Dennys wanted an updated look for its late-night-specific uniform program, one with a hip and edgy feel that matched the persona of their younger and more fashion-forward clientele. The target audience was customers in their teens to early 20s coming in to eat after being at a concert or party. Dennys has eagerly courted this group, engaging in social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, creating a Rock Star Favorites menu, and through “adoption” on its website of popular bands like Good Charlotte, Ace Enders and Set Your Goals (if those arent familiar to you, get a teenager to explain).

Clipper seized on the music tie-in for inspiration. The company developed a graphic that utilized the retailed-motivated trend of oversized, pixilated screen prints. It purchased the rights to a picture of a singer and crowd, and worked from there to enhance the graphic with splatter, completing the look with the Dennys All Nighter logo.

To get that edgy, one-of-a-kind color Dennys wanted, Clipper applied a special spray over the print of the garment-dyed T-shirts.

The design was an instant hit. Fans talked it up on Facebook and tweeted on Twitter, and the shirts have been featured in Dennys commercials throughout the country.

Clipper Corp. is located in Carson, Calif., and is a leading manufacturer and distributor of supplies, uniforms and coordinated accessories to the hospitality industry. Clippers other divisions include standard and customized plastic, metal and tabletop kitchenware products.

What we like about the program design is the overall brand experience. Its what customers remember. Its what leads to lasting impressions, preferences and performance. This is what sets Clippers work apart: customer experiences that are real, tangible, measurable and unforgettable. UNIVATOR worthy? You bet.

To learn more about Clipper Corp., go to

Chef Works

Marketing & Public Relations POS System

Normally renown for its chef wear, including the hugely successful and UNIVATOR-winning 2009 campaign called The Next Generation of Cool, Chef Works is this year touting a point-of-sale box concept system for culinary uniform retailers.

The POS Box System simplifies the
retailers workload, making it easier to see what products and which sizes are selling and need restocking. Packaging on every item is attractive, allowing customers to quickly identify their needed products and size. Of course, all products are bar coded to scan at checkout.

A specific sizing unit rack allows customers to try on and ensure a proper fit without cluttering stores with unsightly, overfilled racks. The system maximizes the amount of product on the floor yet uses limited space and makes good use of walls, ordinarily wasted areas at the retail level.

Chef Works boasts that the amount of dollars generated per square foot of space increases threefold when the concept Box System is used. After almost two years of
testing, the company plans to roll out this system to its key retail reseller partners across the U.S. and around the world. The Box System comes in multiple sizes and is easily adaptable for growth as sales increase.

Over the past 15 years, retail uniform locations have slowly increased their
profitability in culinary uniform sales as the visibility of chef clothing through channels like the Food Network has created demand. Yet the retailer couldnt justify the amount of space it would take up. The Box System solves that dilemma.

Case in point: Since using this system, sales through Restaurant Depot and its sister company, JETRO Cash & Carry, have
increased by more than 150 percent. Three years ago, sales were marginal at best. Anything that increases profitability deserves not only a UNIVATOR but a hearty “bravo” as well.

Visit to learn more.