The Origins and History of High-Visibility Clothing

The Origins and History of High-Visibility Clothing

High-visibility clothing, also known as reflective clothing or high-viz gear, is essential for people who work in or near roads, railway tracks, and construction sites. These clothes are designed to be visible to motorists and heavy equipment operators to prevent accidents.

How did these bright, luminous clothes come about? Let's explore the origin and history of high-visibility clothing.

The Origins

High-visibility clothing was invented in the early 1900s when cyclists started using reflective sashes to remain visible while riding at night. It was not until the 1930s that high-viz gear was introduced in the United States. This gear was mainly used by railway workers who needed to be visible to incoming trains. Early high-visibility clothing was typically made from reflective fabric and bright colors like orange or yellow.

In the 1960s, reflective material became more prominent in high-visibility clothing, giving them more distinct looks. This change made workers more visible in low-light conditions. The reflective material was designed to reflect light to the source, which made it visible to drivers in oncoming traffic.

Becoming More Widespread

High-visibility clothing gained great popularity in the 1970s. The US federal government passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970, which made high-visibility clothing mandatory for workers in specific occupations, such as highway construction. High-viz gear manufacturers started producing new patterns and designs to meet the demand for protective clothing.

In the 1990s, high-visibility clothing underwent a significant transformation. Fluorescent colors that stand out under daylight became the norm. The reflective material on these clothes improved to become more effective during the daytime. Retroreflective materials were introduced, which allowed light to reflect to the driver at almost any angle. These changes made workers more visible to motorists and heavy equipment operators.

Modern High-Visibility Clothing

High-visibility clothing is commonplace nowadays. These garments are necessary for many professions, such as law enforcement, road maintenance, and airport crews. This clothing is often made with high-tech materials that are water and wind-resistant, durable, and breathable. They come in various styles, including jackets, pants, vests, suits, and coveralls.

High-visibility clothing has evolved significantly, from simple reflective sashes to high-tech protective gear. While it’s essential for the safety of workers in potentially dangerous environments, this clothing has also become fashionable. Today, high-visibility clothing is not just a requirement but a lifestyle staple for many people. From bicyclers to construction site workers, countless people adorn high-visibility clothing.

If you need high-viz gear, Hi Vis Safety has you covered! Our selection of reflective clothing includes everything, from hi-vis overalls to jackets to shirts, in various colors and sizes. We also offer flame-retardant apparel and products designed for extreme weather conditions. Shop our collection of hi-vis apparel today to stay safe on the job!