For more than 40 years, the Gore-Tex brand has been a leader in the technical apparel, footwear, gloves and accessories industries. That commitment is even stronger in 2021.
“Gore-Tex product technologies are designed to offer an optimized combination of a low environmental footprint while maintaining the highest level of durable performance,” says Kristin Herrmann-Ratz, who works in the company’s Fabrics Division Strategic Marketing. “In addition, we offer solutions that help customers [partner brands] deliver long-lasting products and services to consumers to ensure the products successfully perform for the duration of their lifecycle.
She adds that in the running footwear category, Gore-Tex Invisible Fit product technology laminate, which is bonded directly into the shoe, is bluesign approved.
Last fall Gore-Tex launched its three PRO Technologies for apparel: PRO most durable, PRO with stretch and PRO more breathable. It’s the brand’s most rugged and durable product technology and the garments using it will carry the “Gore-Tex PRO NEW” tag.
In Spring 2021, the market will see an increasing number of partner brands using the new PRO. The three-layer Gore-Tex PRO laminates feature an innovative Gore Micro Grid Backer technology, now developed with solution dyeing (for the non-stretch Gore-Tex PRO fabrics). A specially woven lining protects the membrane from abrasion on the inside and slides easily over layers, allowing the wearer to move freely. The low denier backer is still highly breathable and robust, without adding excessive weight, and the robust outer face material is comprised only of textiles between 30-200 denier, ensuring that garments are highly abrasion- and snag-resistant.
The company has also committed to an extensive, long-term effort to eliminate PFCs of Environmental Concern from its consumer products and believes that the single most influential lever to improve the environmental footprint of a product is to prolong its useful life. Gore-Tex products are built to last longer and taking care of those products helps maintain performance while extending the life of the article.
For this reason, Gore is committed to educating consumers on wash and care of its products, providing repair kits to keep Gore-Tex gear functional when damage does happen and providing information on global Gore-Tex authorized repair centers.
The brand is also incorporating the use of more recycled textiles; dying methods that have fewer environmental impacts via less water, chemicals or energy; and simplification in the manufacturing process to integrate Gore-Tex into shoes to reduce water, energy and waste. The company employs the bluesign, HIGG Index, OEKO-TEX certifications on the social and environmental fronts and these standards help ensure transparency and product integrity.
“The Gore-Tex brand will continue to invest in research and development as part of our commitment to high-performing product innovation. We take this responsibility as an industry leader very seriously and will continue to evolve our science and technology Ñ working to develop new materials, technologies, processes and products that offer high-performance while supporting our sustainability journey to protect people and the planet,” says Herrmann-Ratz.
Increased Consumer Demand
She also observes that the industry is seeing an increased demand from consumers for eco-designed products and many top brands are responding with compelling offerings of bio-based and mission-based materials.
“Sustainability is a key priority for the Gore-Tex brand and we are committed to applying our scientific knowledge and expertise to protect both people and the planet,” she explains. “The ability to leverage our innovative curiosity has created an exciting new focus where we can seek to provide sustainable solutions to help meet the challenges of a circular economy. The opportunities that can be found within these emergent ideas are particularly intriguing and where true innovative change can make a significant impact.
“In exploring different ways to collaborate with other industry leaders on the rethinking of products, processes and existing business models, we are opening the door to new potential for the future,” Herrmann-Ratz adds.
While brands are continuing to seek more sustainable material options, consumer demand is mixed and Herrmann-Ratz describes two main consumer groups Ñ those who feel strongly about purchasing sustainable products and don’t see price as an obstacle and those who want to purchase responsibly made products but expect the brands to absorb any additional manufacturing and material costs rather than pass those onto the consumer.
In the running market, however, there is strong interest in sustainable products from all parties Ñ partner brands, retailers and consumers alike.
“We have noticed that the most prevalent attributes being communicated to consumers by [our] customers and retailers are about the use of recycled materials, un-dyed or solution dyed materials and the focus on a product’s durability and lifecycle longevity,” says Herrmann-Ratz. “Customers, retailers and consumers understand that a product with a long useful life is a key lever in reducing environmental impact.”