The History and Evolution of High-Visibility Clothing

The History and Evolution of High-Visibility Clothing

High-visibility clothing serves as protective gear for workers and ensures their safety on the job site. It is essential to many industries, such as construction, transportation, and emergency services.

However, have you ever wondered how it came to be and its evolution throughout history? Let’s delve into the history and evolution of high-visibility clothing, from its first introduction to its modern-day use.

The Early 1900s

High-visibility clothing’s history can be traced back to railroad companies in the early 1900s, as they needed to ensure their workers were safe while working on railway tracks. Consequently, they introduced a new dress code, known as the “light-colored uniforms,” that included white shirts and white or beige hats. Workers also wore reflective strips to increase visibility. These reflective strips used Scotchlite, which later became the industry standard.

In the 1930s, the British army introduced reflective tape to make soldiers visible during night combat. Later, in the 1960s, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) introduced reflective tape as a requirement for high-visibility clothing in the workplace. Since then, using reflective tape has been a standard requirement in high-visibility apparel.

1970s and 1980s

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, more and more considerations concerned the safety of employees who worked in difficult weather conditions or low-light situations. High-visibility clothing started to take on a bright color, often neon or orange. Yellow or green were added to the color range as the benefits of those hues became apparent. The development of fluorescent colors facilitated the latest high-visibility apparel since they offer workers optimum visibility in low-light situations.

With the emerging technology in the late 1980s and 1990s, high-visibility clothing has improved. Clothing with photo-luminescent strips, not subject to loss of reflectivity, was made available. Other innovative materials, such as microbeads and fiber optics, became commonplace in creating a wider range of safety clothing.

Modern Day

Modern-day technological advancements have increased the size of reflective tape, expanded the range of colors, and included LED technology. The range of high-visibility clothing for people now includes various options such as vests, jackets, T-shirts, hats, pants, and rainwear, and brands have made it their specialty—some have even built their companies around this one protection!

High-visibility clothing has come a long way from its introduction as light-colored uniforms to its modern-day apparel. The evolution of high-visibility clothing from Scotchlite strips to state-of-the-art photo-luminescent safety wear illustrates how innovation drove and continues to push the envelope within the industry.

Modern high-visibility clothing provides safety and visual brilliance in everyday clothing for workers in construction, public works, police, fire departments, emergency medical services, and motorists, who all rely on its wearers to stay safe. It is safe to say that high-visibility clothing will continue to evolve and take great strides in protective wear.

If you need safety wear clothing, Hi Vis Safety can help you. We specialize in high-visibility clothing for many industries and can provide the protection you need. Contact us today to learn more about our protective gear range and how it can help keep you safe on the job!