Garment Technology

Inventions that changed the uniform industry

Inventions that changed the uniform industry

Over the years, there have been many advances in uniform design and manufacture. The biggest ever? Here’s our pick, Velcro and Teflon.


Velcro, a portmanteau word combining ‘velour’ and ‘crochet’, is a system of tiny hooks and hairy loop fasteners. It was invented in 1948 by a Swiss electrical engineer inspired by the prickly burrs that lodged in his clothes and his dog’s fur after a walk in the woods. The idea wasn’t taken seriously until an American columnist described it as a ‘zipperless zip’.

Velcro was then adopted by the aerospace industry to help astronauts get in and out of their bulky space suits. Skiers were the next to use Velcro fastenings, followed by scuba divers, and the manufacturers of children’s clothing. Now Velcro is also widely used in clothing for the elderly and physically disabled who struggle to dress themselves.

Velcro has been used in lots of weird and wonderful ways: holding together a human heart during the first artificial heart operation, attaching torches to the walls of  army tanks, on orthopaedic braces, disposable nappies, backpacks, surfboard leashes, and far more.


Teflon, a fluorinated plastic, is so slippery even insects can’t walk across it. It was discovered by accident in 1938 by an American research chemist working for DuPont; which is one of the world’s largest chemical companies, also responsible for inventing Lycra, Kevlar, nylon and neoprene.

Teflon was used to coat the valves and seals in the atomic bombs used in Japan in WWII. Teflon is widely used in industry because it reduces wear and energy consumption in machinery. It’s used as an insulator for cables, circuit boards and fuel lines, anywhere sliding parts are used and as a grafting material in surgery.

It’s also known as Tefal, used in non-stick cookware and Gor-Tex, used in clothing. At Arrow Clothing, Teflon is used as a fabric protector, fending off stains and spills without affecting the fabric’s weight, look, feel, colour or breathing properties. This makes it easier for your Arrow uniforms to keep looking fresh and clean. It also helps seal in the colour, preserving their new look for longer.

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