Understanding our Fabrics

We know fabrics can be complicated when designing a suitable uniform for you team, so we've compiled a short explainer on each fabric so you can make the most informed choice. If you have any questions, please reach out to us so we can find a fabric that is the best fit in terms of price, durability, customisation or environmental concerns.

About Us

Polyester

A modern marvel, polyester is cost effective and durable, even compared to other synthetic fibres. Polyester is a synthetic polymer PET, short for polyethylene terephthalate. Since its first invention, polyester fabric technology is has improved remarkably from the plastic-y Crimplene style suits when it was first brought to the market in the 1970s.

It has extremely good wrinkle resistance, keeps its colour and shape and dries quickly – great for outerwear such as rain jackets. From a branding perspective, it takes dyes well to ensure the colour match to your brand identity is exact. It’s also resistant to staining, which is why it’s our first choice in food service aprons.

A common argument we hear against 100% polyester is that it is not as breathable as natural fibers or polyester blends. This depends on the quality and size of weave. Often, a specific sweat wicking finish or fibre technology is applied to enable the fibre to absorb moisture. Pure polyester fabric is more prone to static, holding odours (if it is not washed correctly), and – in some instances - pilling. This is why polycotton blends are so popular as they provide a solution to these downsides. It's also common to see garments with a polyester outer face that is cotton backed with a finish not unlike a peach skin. The cotton gives comfort to the wearer inside, while the polyester outer keeps its colour and form.

Breathable polyester fabrics are available and can be a good choice for those in active roles, originally developed for sports teams such as the All Blacks - polyester has now firmly made its way into mainstream workwear.

Polyester costs less to produce, uses less resources (water, energy and people’s labour) to produce than cotton, but it is a plastic substrate that may be prone to microplastic shedding. New technology to capture these shedding microplastics are currently in development internationally.

It can be re-processed and recycled into new substrates and into new fibres, making it truly recyclable and a fibre that will continue to be at the forefront of fabric and textile innovation.

Cotton

Grown on cotton plantations in the USA, China, Pakistan and India and the like.

An amazing, very old fibre that has been used for generations as a versatile fabric. Cotton is a natural fibre but can vary in quality, density and construction which ultimately decides how it will be used. It can be woven (like shirts and trousers) or knitted (like polo shirts and underwear). Higher thread counts mean more cotton threads per square centimetre are used, resulting in a softer feel. Most people find cotton very comfortable to wear. It is great for people
with allergies or those with sensitive skin, which sometimes gets a reaction from man-made fabric like polyester, as cotton has higher airflow and is more breathable, as well as being naturally hypoallergenic. The breathability comes at the cost of durability, as cotton wears faster than polyester or polycotton blends. It also shrinks and fades like jeans fade and needs ironing.

Cotton stops the wearer from being too hot, with air circulation helping temperature control and absorbance of moisture. Outdoor workers or people who work in climates of high humidity can benefit from cotton or high cotton blends. Cotton is more comfortable to wear
as it is absorbent, and breathability helps with reducing body odours and sweat when garments get stuck to the body.

Cotton can tend to be more expensive due to the production cost of growing, picking, processing and weaving cotton into
thread. Climatic conditions, crop outputs, and global demand can cause price changes.

 Poor quality cotton can wear out faster as the fibres don’t last, and it is susceptible to harsh realities of commercial laundering. Climatic and crop conditions in the countries where it is grown can greatly impact the quality of the cotton fabric produced, with polyester being
more consistent in quality and reliability in manufacturing.

Organic cotton, due to less genetic modification, can result in weaker textile quality and less yield in production, resulting in higher costs – although potentially less chemicals are used in the process of manufacture. Complex supply chains make organic cotton certifications and tracing difficult from the world’s two largest producers of cotton, India and China, but it can be achieved.

Polycotton

Polycotton is a blend of polyester has been weaved with cotton. This brings the softness of cotton with the strength of Polyester, making the cloth more durable and long-lasting. Polycotton is soft, lightweight, and durable, the best of both worlds. A highly used fibre blend in the fashion industry.

Ratios vary, with an 65%/35% polyester to cotton ratio being the most common in the workwear industry.

As polyester originates from the same polymers as plastic, polyester fabric is difficult to tear or rip, with more stretch and durability than natural fibres. In places where clothing is washed constantly and hygiene is important, polycotton is a long-lasting choice that can handle heavy-duty use without losing shape. Most medical scrubs are made from polycotton. Polycotton can be washed more times than cotton and cope with stain removers or sanitising treatments than its more delicate cousin. Polycotton is also an excellent choice for staff that work around machinery where the fabric may get caught against objects or tear. 

Polycotton has low maintenance washing and drying as it doesn’t hold wrinkles, it’s great for corporate and any customer facing roles where looking polished is important.

Pricing is more expensive than polyester but more cost-effective than 100% Cotton.

Hercules Polycotton

Hercules polycotton is renowed for its inherent strength and named after the mythical Greek hero himself.

Our Hercules fabric is our bestselling hospital grade polycotton blend. It allows medical professionals to wash and go, while remaining crease-free, tidy and professional. Washable up to high temperatures, this fabric is a bestseller in  the Aged Care sector. Commerically launderable, this fabric blend is used for scrubs, gowns, nurses uniforms and the like.

Polyviscose

Polyviscose is a blend of Polyester and Viscose (mostly 65% polyester with 35% of viscose) used extensively in uniforms. It has a softer feel and smoother drape then Polyester/Cottons which can feel and look quite industrial at times.

Viscose is a man-made fibre produced from wood pulp, and while some folk may refer to Polyviscose as semi-synthetic, it is somewhat breathable, water absorbent making it quite comfortable wear next to the skin. Polyviscose is a very stable fabric, wears well, works well, and holds its colour well when washed in normal domestic procedures. It can tend to show residual greasy stain marks if these aren’t pre-tested but often a quick rub with soap powder, along with some elbow grease will help remove this.

Most of the Polyviscose fabrics used by Arrow Uniforms have a Teflon finish which helps to protect against those greasy stains. This also helps keep the colour longer and makes washing and ironing easier. Polyviscose is designed to be washed at home for convenience and cost savings. That means domestic washing and drying procedures work well and are all that’s required.

One thing Polyviscose doesn’t like is too much heat in the drying process. This means the commercial drying part of the process can cause problems –such as shrinkage, if too much heat is used, or they are overdried. But washing and drying in modern domestic machines is fine.

Wool

Still a natural wonder in our modern era, Wool is from the fleece of sheep who are shorn regularly, and this “wool crop” is then processed into fibres that we all wear.

Wool has a natural "spring" that restores its shape when hung up in a steamy shower. Lanolin, a moisturising wax naturally produced in the fibre, helps this "bounce back" effect. Premium wool garments are often re-treated with "wool soap" through a process called lanolising, which ensures wool keeps it amazing natural properties such as its water repellent breathability.

A natural insulator that’s warm without allowing sweat and moisture to be stuck to skin, it’s also naturally anti microbial, even having recent recognition as an excellent facemask filter during the pandemic.

Like other natural fabrics, it can lose its original shape and size over time, making it less suitable for uniform items that get washed often, like t-shirts or scrubs. It can be knitted into garments like jerseys or woven for tailored garments like blazers, jackets, and other suiting. Wool is the perfect choice for people who work in the cold or outdoors in winter. Water resistant, but not waterproof, wool is a great choice for beanies, scarfs, and knitwear.

It can also attract moths, so make sure you keep an eye on winter garments in your closets, or pack them away tightly when the weather gets warmer.

Wool can be handwashed or machine washed on a delicate or wool cycle with mild detergents designed for wool. We recommend a delicate bag for wool accessories. High quality wool suiting and accessories should be dry cleaned to keep them looking and feeling great for longer. Wool should be airdried to ensure it doesn’t change shape. We recommend placing a towel under woollen items to help them dry. Always follow the Care instruction label contained in each garment. In doubt - ask us.

 

Polywool

Polywool is more durable for workwear use and frontline corporate use, while being more convenient to care for. It is not as warm as pure wool. We suggest if you’re looking for warmth, a ratio of at least 50% wool is needed in the blend. Wool blends handle both heat and cold due to wool’s natural temperature control properties but are more durable than pure wool variants.

Depending on the blend of fibres used, Polywool blends can be less itchy, softer, and finer to the touch than pure wool. Polywool is more stretchy and has the benefit of being less heavy and prone to pilling. It is less expensive than pure wool while retaining its amazing qualities and warmth.

The Z-stretch polywool used in our #001 Corporate range also incorporates Spandex, adding to the wearers comfort. Our trousers and skirts are machine washable but we recommend drycleaning the jackets so the internal linings and components keep their shape.

New Zealand Merino

Merino is pure luxury – from New Zealand sheep who survive temperatures up to thirty degrees in the summer and chilling snows in the winter. Merino is more lightweight and non-itchy than traditional wool and can be recycled or biodegradable.  If you look at merino under the microscope, you’ll notice the finer composition of the fibre than wool from traditional
sheep breeds.

Speciality Fabrics and Finishes

Here are our most commonly requested fabric finishes. We can order many other different speciality finishes, particularly for healthcare and surgery - just ask us.

Speciality Fabrics

90-degree Fabric

Achieve peace of mind knowing your scrubs are being washed up to 90 degrees Celcius with bacteria-killing sterilisation. Prioritise the safety of your team with fabric that is designed for demanding industrial laundry conditions. We are able to use this fabric in a variety of garments, contact us to find out more.

Blood-proof Fabric

We want to help your surgery or clinic to say no to disposable gowns. Constructed from medical grade fabric which is commercially launderable, our blood-proof fabric repels blood and other fluids, this fabric can be made sterile again and again, saving your clinic money and environmental waste as well.

Biogarde

Biogarde is an anti-bacterial cloth for protecting your staff.

A recognised essential for those in the frontline, Biogarde is the perfect antibacterial addition to medical garments. BioGarde uses silvers' natural antimicrobial properties to destroy the microbes that come into contact with the fabric by piercing their cell wall. Through a manufacturing process unique to us, we create a permanent, embedded and non-leaching coating of silver particles onto the textile. The revolutionary antiviral and antibacterial BioGarde is ‘baked’ into the yarns by specialised machines during the manufacturing process. This coating inhibits bacteria the same way it inhibits viruses — due to its advanced technology, it protects against unwanted bacteria that causes the unpleasant odour.

Because our method leaves the silver durably bonded to fabric, BioGarde is stable, non-soluble and washer/dryer-resistant. It is engineered to withstand the hard-wearing demands of continuous-use uniforms and fabrics while guaranteeing an antimicrobial barrier throughout the lifespan of the item.

Biogarde can be washed safely at home, thus avoiding the cost and downtime hassle of commerical laundering.

Recent laboratory results showed that Biogarde was resistant to COVID-19 as well as other major viruses and common strains of bacteria. Check out biogarde.co.nz to find out more.

Teflon Textile Finish

Teflon™ textile finishes work like a shield for clothes and other fabrics, forming a protective barrier around each fiber to repel water, dirt, and stains. These invisible finishes do not interfere with the fabric's weight, look, feel, color, or breathability.

Garments in our Teflon range are used extensively in our food, beverage and hospitality sector (where things like gravy and tomato sauce lurk) and the medical sector (creams and Ungvita) meaning residual greasy stains can be removed in any domestic laundry at home.

The Teflon fabric protector imbues treated textiles with water- and oil-based stain repellency, ground-in stain release, or both. If you'd like to learn more, visit the offical Teflon website.

Repreve Recycled Polyester

This incredible fabric is made from recycled plastic bottles and other materials, diverting them from landfill. Compared to making what's called virgin fiber (polyester that's never been used), recycled polyester offsets using new petroleum, emitting fewer greenhouse gases and conserving water and energy in the process.

Caring for your garments

Clothing, no matter how high quality, need care to ensure they last a long time and maintain a fresh look. Keep in mind these key tips next time you run a load of washing.

Caring for your Garments

Washing

Only ever use branded washing products as often plain-pack or budget formulations contain harsh optical whiteners that can ruin your clothes prematurely.

Make sure you're washing at the right temperature. Washing clothes too hot will degrade the fibers over time. Hot washes are great for sterilisation and stubborn odor removal (from domestic "hot" to the commerically launderable temperatures needed to wash soiled scrubs and surgery wear). While many of use cold washing cycles to save money, most formulas work best on warm wash settings, so run a warm wash from time to time for optimal performance.

We tend to overuse washing powder thinking more is better. But too much washing powder causes build up and sometimes even powder stains and crinkles in the fabric. Follow the instructions set out by your detergent bottle or box.

Drying

Our main advice is, do not overdry!

Dryers are notorious for wearing out your garments, so hang outside on a line to dry where possible.

Most modern dryers have an intelligent overheat setting where they turn off, but be mindful on how long - and how hot - you set the dryer. Watch out for gas-fired dryers, as these run particularly hot.

We recommend for woolen garments or others that may loose their shape to not be hung up to dry, but instead laid flat with a towel under the garment.

Ironing and Steaming

Many uniforms are made from wrinkle-resistant material and require little ironing straight out of the washing machine or off the line.

Make sure you follow fabric care instructions on the garment tag and set your iron accordingly, if you are using one. Irons generally have settings that are appropriate for each fabric type.

If you have a steamy bathroom, try hanging up a slightly wrinkled suit or dress while you shower. It acts the same as using a steam iron.

Stain Removal

Treating stains fast is the best way to ensure they don't settle. Blotting the stain with a clean cloth, then water, is the best first approach. Be careful when using stain removal products as they may lessen the efficacy of removal if you want to take it to the dry cleaners later.

Bleach is an effective stain remover, but it comes at a cost if used too often or for too long, destroying the fiber bonds of the fabric. Many washing powders now have whiteneners that are safer for your white shirts and other garments. Soaking in products like Napisan can work well.

Download our stain removal poster for laundry rooms and your own reference here.

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