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The ANSI standard for high-visibility apparel has begun to mature since it was first written and published in June of 1999. When first conceived this new apparel was expensive and very hot to wear because of its polyester fabric and retro-reflective material construction.

The ANSI standard has detailed specifications JACQUARD FABRIC for the area of the background fabric and the retro-reflective material as well as defined coverage areas for the garment to pass its compliance inspections. Retro-reflective trim on the garment, whether sewn or laminated, is required for low level light and/or nighttime visibility. It is also needed in increasing amounts of square inches as you increase in the ANSI classes upward.

According to specifications, the ANSI class II standard requires a minimum of (201) square inches of retro-reflective material and (775) square inches of background material. In addition, the ANSI class III standard requires a minimum of (310) square inches of retro-reflective material and (1,240) square inches of fluorescent background material. In 2004, the ANSI standard (107-1999) was modified to what the current specifications is today (107-2004).

In the beginning, ANSI safety apparel was very limited in its availability and the apparel options didn’t include much beyond ANSI vests. From the start, apparel manufacturers have been working to develop and expand product offerings to increase comfort and productivity, with moisture management fabric, wicking finishes, breathable ANSI III Bombers, high visibility 3-season jackets, ANSI windbreakers and ANSI III sweatshirts.

Manufacturing innovators in the reflective apparel marketplace like Rich Boven of the Reflective Apparel Factory of Marietta, Ga. have come into the market with their own branded ANSI apparel. The family of reflective apparel that they see as a current industry requirement includes ANSI Bomber Jackets, ANSI 3-Season jackets, ANSI Parkas and ANSI Windbreakers, ANSI T-shirts, ANSI long sleeve T-shirts and ANSI polo shirts featuring Airex Reflective material and traditional 3M retro-reflective tape. They also see requirements for fabrics with wicking finishes and breathable wovens, which are waterproof and lighter, more flexible and trimmed retro-reflective material. The last important requirement they see are fabrics which provide expanded usage over longer periods of the day and longer working seasons as well.

Rich Boven states, “As waste companies, construction companies and municipal governments are demanding more and more garments, the expected features for ANSI III Jackets, ANSI III Bomber Jackets, ANSI III windbreakers and ANSI III Parkas have all come into question. He further states that, “Currently, most high visibility garments have two-way zippers, cell phone pockets and include hoods. ANSI II T-Shirts come in different weight fabrics to insure moisture management and wicking, but also to keep workers more productive. In addition, Airex (flexible, reflective material) lets the garments breath without chaffing. All ANSI garments are also required to be permanently labeled with wash certification, manufacturer’s name, country of origin and wash instructions.

Offshore manufacturing and importing of ANSI apparel has moved into the American marketplace, forcing prices downward. As a further note, the US Government imposes a (32.6%) duty and a quota of (.50) cents per garment for garments made of manmade fiber coming in from much of the world. Because of this, domestic manufacturers of high visibility garments have expanded their manufacturing capabilities to the Caribbean Basin to avoid these duties. Specific areas such as Israel, South Africa and Central America are duty free with regards to importation of textiles.