20 March 2006
Bright Future for
"Glow-in-the-Dark" Fabric Innovations
As the world's consumers preoccupy themselves with the latest techno
gadgets such as cell phones with cameras, iPods, and even handheld
mobile internet solutions, one Melbourne based company called The
Specialty Group has also turned their attention to technology by making
fabrics "Glow-in-the-dark" - through a brand new patented innovation
that has garments lighting up once the sun goes down.
The product, aptly titled "Energlo", glows for over three hours in total
darkness after only twelve minutes of exposure to natural light.
The technology involves the use of completely safe "Photo-luminescent"
(light absorbing and emitting) crystals that are dispersed within
several layers of the company's waterproof breathable coatings and then
applied to a variety of face fabrics that will ultimately be used for
wet weather clothing where additional night time visibility is required.
Vice President of International Sales & Marketing, Daniel Leipnik, who
is based in the company's Vancouver, Canada office, claims that "where
the safety of law enforcement officers and ambulance and paramedic crews
are involved, adding greater visibility to clothing at night is only
going to make them safer and more easily seen then by conventional high
visibility fabrics or reflective tapes alone".
"Imagine the benefits of being able to see Traffic Police out on a
country highway where there are no lights or tarmac crew glowing
brightly around airports where planes move around in the middle of the
What started as a practical solution for people working around traffic
or at jobsites has quickly spread to some exciting applications for the
product in a variety of other industries.
"We're getting dozens of calls a day right now from leading brands of
Ski and Snowboard wear and even manufacturers of cycling, running, and
kids wear who see Energlo as a wonderfully useful fabric. The appetite
for this technology is seeing many companies request exclusivity because
they know how well the retail reaction is going to be," claims Leipnik.
And Leipnik may just be right in his predictions as clothing companies clamour to license the use of Energlo in their upcoming collections.
One of the best attributes about Energlo is that sportswear brands who
have already chosen their intended outerwear fabric can have this made
waterproof, breathable and photo luminescent through the coating
One company embracing this new invention is Westbeach Sports Inc, a well
known Canadian Snowboard outerwear brand who were excited when they
first saw the product.
"Westbeach is constantly searching out new technologies and testing
fabrics to be used for our products," says Michelle Gault, Director of
Apparel for Westbeach. "With Energlo we saw an opportunity to push the
boundaries of style while maintaining the function and the waterproof
and breathable properties of the garment. Westbeach has worked closely
with the Specialty Group in the development of our first Energlo piece,
the Phenom Jacket which will be delivered to retailers this Fall."
With exclusive rights to Energlo technology for the Winter 06/07
snowsports season, in an industry where differentiation is key,
Westbeach is able to do so with success.
And it's not likely that sales of Energlo will be restricted to the snow
sports and work wear sectors. A range of clever entrepreneurs around
the world are also expressing an interest in this "Glow-in-the-dark"
"I've had calls from a New Zealand company that makes dog coats, a baby
stroller manufacturer in Norway, and even a company in Japan that makes
hand bags with monkey cartoon prints on them," an excited Leipnik
explains. "It's great to see how designers think when they have
something innovative to work with."
But Energlo may just have some even greater applications far beyond the
fashionable business of snow sports clothing as many emergency services
teams trial the product to validate it as a possible safety enhancement.
"If you are lost at sea or even in the back country of a mountain and it
turns to night, a person wearing clothing or a backpack that lights up
in the dark may just stand out long enough for search and rescue teams
to find them. If you happen to be out a second day and then night, the
glowing properties are re-charged anew giving a person multiple chances
to be found".
Copyright (c) 2006 Fitchmere Pty. Ltd. T/A Australasian Textiles