The inspirations for construction clothing come from many sources. A customer's body and function are first in mind when manufacturers brainstorm a new item, and athletics and unexpected objects–like a fire hose–also inspire the fabrics and technologies used to make these pieces. ProSales interviewed seven companies on how they take new materials and technologies into account to fulfill the needs and wants of their customers. Here are some of the latest trends on the lumberyard catwalk.

Here's a Hand

Gloves today are made to protect the hand against fatigue, weather, jagged materials, and slippage while also providing comfort and durability with special fabrics and technologies. Mechanix's ( Heavy Duty 4.0 glove and Ironclad's ( Ranchworx glove protect through padding in the palm, knuckles, and the sides of the hand and fingers. Got gloves you love? Add warmth with Gerbing's ( thin, battery-heated glove liner, coming out in 2008.

Tough on Top

Tops have steered away from cotton and toward materials, ideas, and technologies that you'd least expect. For instance, Duluth Trading Co.'s ( Fire Hose line is inspired by the canvas wrapped around fire hoses. Many features of Ironclad's Performance Workwear come from athletics, and Gerbing's gained its inspiration from cold-weather wear. But all companies have the same goal: give the wearer comfort and quality while at work.

The Fire Hose line features 100% cotton-canvas, long sleeve, fleece-lined or unlined shirts that are resistant to rips, snags, and tears. They also are treated to repel water, grease, oil, and mud.

Knowing that workers–like athletes–sweat all day, Ironclad Performance Workwear adopted features from moisture-wicking, odor-resisting, temperature-regulating athletic wear. All shirts are machine washable, stain resistant, anti-microbial, and designed for durability, fit, range of motion, and circulation control. All pieces offer a UV protection of 30-plus.

Gerbing's vest does more than retain heat–it creates heat. The Lite heated vest warms the body's core with heating elements–powered by a removable, water-resistant, rechargeable battery–that can be placed where heat is most needed. The vest is washable, water-resistant, and has side zippers that allow for size adjustment (small through extra large).

Get a Kick Out of These

Work boots today keep feet warm, protect them, make them comfortable, and conform to the wearer's needs.

Wesco ( and Timberland ( have taken different approaches to the warmth issue. Wesco customizes boots and offers a choice of several warm linings. Timberland has aerogel nano-technology, which provides a lightweight, space-saving insulation applied to the steel and non-steel toe box; the steel-toe is coated with a ceramic-based coating for additional warmth. Both companies have boots with non-marking and oil-resistant soles with traction to reduce the risk of slipping. Steel toes are also available for those who wish extra protection.

Comfort is a priority for these shoemakers, so they combine needs with unbulky padding. If there are special needs, such as uneven leg length, Wesco can make a shoe to accommodate.

Bottoms Up

Typical pants have five pockets, but these work pants don't stop there. Pants for the jobsite have reinforced pockets for a phone, writing utensils, ruler, screws, nuts, and bolts.

Carhartt ( has Double Front pants (and coming soon, Double Front shorts for warm weather) that have an extra layer of canvas to protect legs that rub against projects.

The Fire Hose line by Duluth Trading Co. also has pants and shorts that provide the strength of a hose but with comfort. Pants come fleece-lined, unlined, or with CoolMax. Pants with CoolMax wick away moisture and allow wearers to remain cool and dry in warm temperatures.

Both brands make their bottoms with extra leg room for a greater range of motion when climbing, bending, and moving.

–Anna Hernandez