A quiet reassurance in a post-Covid world

April 14, 2021
Last month we caught up with Charles Ross, a well-known expert in sustainability and performance sportswear design based in the UK. Charles shared his thoughts on how the pandemic has changed the relationship we have with our clothes, and what both the industry and consumers need to do to ensure we have a sustainable future.

In this, the second part of the interview, we look at the role Polygiene can play in our post-Covid existence.

Charles observes that in the more visual world we have found ourselves in, with many of our days filled by endless Zoom or Teams calls, clothing has been taking on a greater role in telling people who we are.

In this context, Polygiene provides us with a “quiet reassurance,” he says.

“Polygiene is stuff that you can’t see,” he explains. “Whether it’s the original Stays Fresh (BioStatic) technology, or Odor Crunch or ViralOff, it’s more inward reflecting, and gives you an extra satisfaction and confidence.”

Research has found that the desire for extra performance in our clothing, especially antimicrobial properties, has rapidly increased due to Covid-19, including in the West, where the demand for such attributes was less well-established than in Asia prior to the pandemic.

For instance, in a survey conducted last year by MESH01 and published in Trend Insight magazine, 86% of respondents said that they specifically seek out garments made with multi-functional fabrics.

When asked if there are any new terms that now resonate when shopping for active apparel and footwear, ‘antimicrobial’ was comfortably top of the list, with 50% of those surveyed pointing to this word.

In addition, 59% of respondents said they would pay more for active apparel or footwear described as having some kind of antimicrobial or antiviral attribute.

Charles notes that such responses indicate the extent to which consumers are now searching beyond look, price, comfort and fit, as these essential aspects of garments have developed and improved so significantly over recent decades.

“There’s now so much competition in clothing,” he explains. “We can find two rival brands. Both have good looks that appeal. They’re at the right price point. They are comfortable to wear. And they have the right fit.

“So we’re now looking further down the list, at the brand values like CSR, for example. And we’re looking at other features like functionality in the material. And it’s as part of that where Polygiene just gives you that extra little bit of confidence.”

As societies begin to re-open, and we get the chance to meet in bars, restaurants and other public spaces, it is this extra confidence in what we are wearing which more and more consumers are looking for, even if it’s impossible to actually see it, he says.

“Hidden technologies like Polygiene can be really hard to sell if you can’t see them. It’s not as if you’re putting an extra pocket on a garment, or it’s a waterproof zip – something that people can play with. But they just give you peace of mind.”

He draws a comparison which many outdoor enthusiasts will relate to. “Imagine you’re stuck on some mountain when everything goes bad. But you know you can ring the mountain rescue team. That, to me, is what Polygiene represents. It’s the opposite of disaster planning – it’s disaster reassurance.

“None of us would put ourselves in a situation where we would aim to get contaminated. But just in case everything goes wrong, you know that what you are wearing will be protected and that has an effect.”

And in our new world, where we are looking for more understated qualities in our clothing and the brands we choose, Polygiene also helps consumers meet this growing desire.

“We’re aligning ourselves with brands that we share values with, and it’s not necessarily in your face. Now people take a lot of satisfaction in knowing that they’re doing the right thing: they’re wearing the right product, but it’s not some big logo emblazoned over the chest. It’s a bit more self-reflective. It gives you confidence.

“And that’s where Polygiene fits in. It’s that quiet reassurance – the quiet reassuring extras that it brings without shouting about it.”

This was a continued conversation with Charles Ross by Jonathan Dyson – Editor of Twist magazine, published by WTiN. The first part of the interview ran in our March 2021 newsletter.
charles ross

Charles Ross