Professional Builder’s Lee Jones explores the extensive range of Helly Hansen workwear.
If a clothing company is already well versed in safeguarding its wearers amidst the watery wilderness of a windswept ocean or in the shadow of soaring mountain peaks then it can certainly be trusted to provide quality workwear for UK builders. Indeed, the Helly Hansen brand has since its inception been synonymous with highly engineered garments designed to withstand the worst of nature’s wrath, and that’s a tradition that continues to this day.
It was the eponymous Helly Juell Hansen who established the culture of innovation that is still embedded in the Norwegian company’s DNA. In 1877 the then sea captain, found a better way to protect sailors from the brutal Nordic climate. He developed a method of impregnating linseed oil into cotton canvas, thereby creating supple, waterproof apparel – and from that inventive beginning the milestones have just kept coming.
In the 1960s Helly Hansen pioneered the pile fleece, a fabric which remains amongst the most effective insulating material available. Fast forward to the seventies and the first technical base layer garments featuring the manufacturer’s LIFA technology would emerge. Today, there are three different LIFA base layer solutions available depending on the level of activity and warmth required.
Similarly – whilst many may lay claim to it – it was this Norwegian clothing expert that introduced the three-layer system as the most efficient means of providing temperature regulation and moisture management in clothing. Moreover, having already bequeathed the world a man-made waterproof garment in the nineteenth century, the idea would be developed still further with the launch of the Hellytech concept in 1984 – the first waterproof and breathable membrane.
“As consumers demand ever better levels of protection from their apparel, there are lots of transferable technologies from the other markets we service, such as sailing and skiing,” enthuses David Smith, Helly Hansen Workwear UK/ROI Sales Manager. “A tradesman’s clothing needs to be robust and fit-for-purpose, but we’re also producing clothing that’s designed to keep the wearer alive in some of the harshest environments the planet has to offer – that makes for great synergy across the range.”
If the clothes make the man, then it’s cutting-edge science that makes the clothing, with fabric development experiencing unprecedented leaps forward in recent years. Helly Hansen is ideally placed to exploit the new technologies, as Andreas Pohl Larsen, Helly Hansen Workwear Product Design Director explains: “The latest generation of 4-way stretch fabrics that we’re manufacturing are now equipped with the durability that the workwear environment demands. Materials such as elastane are inherently more fragile but, by reducing their content in a garment to as little as 7 per cent, we can still deliver on flexibility and movement but with increased wear resistance. At the same, by increasing the useable life of the clothing, that also helps the environment.
“In addition, we also concentrate our attention on the construction of a garment and how that can help the user feel more comfortable. New for Spring 2022, for example, our BRZ collection introduces climate regulation comfort at a lighter weight of just 250g or lower, with mechanical ventilation that can be adapted by the wearer according to the conditions. The feedback we get from customers always leads back to the same thing. They want something that’s comfortable and that they’re not looking forward to taking off. Our focus on the breathability, flexibility and lightness of the fabric is based on that principle.”
That’s an ethos that is reinforced by Helly Hansen Marketing Manager, Nick Purcell: “There are now generations of builders who have been brought up on performance sportswear and expect their work clothes to be of the same quality. Younger tradespeople in particular are now demanding a slim fit and tailored finish as standard, and that’s what the likes of our 4-way stretch pant models will provide.”
One of Helly Hansen’s most popular lines, the Chelsea Evolution concept is the embodiment of that combination of advanced fabrics and fashion-conscious styling. Incorporating a collection of jackets, midlayer solutions, Construction Pant choices, and safety trainers and boots, consumers will be attracted to inherently sophisticated garments that equally benefit from some of the aforementioned innovations, including 4-way stretch, and the waterproof breathability of Hellytech.
Similarly, the latest iteration of Helly Hansen’s footwear is reflecting some of the very same features found in high end trainers. The Chelsea Evolution MID is the company’s biggest selling safety footwear in the UK, with a leather-free construction and – thanks to likes of EVA material in the mid-sole and an aluminium toecap – an extremely light weight. Add to that breathable and waterproof Hellytech fabric and you’re guaranteed a tradesman’s favourite, whilst other styles in the company’s portfolio feature the convenience of the BOA lacing system for a perfect at the simple turn of a knob.
Elsewhere, the Chelsea Evolution Construction Pant features hanging pockets, articulated knees, and kneepad pockets, Cordura reinforcement, and further details in the design for storing and holding tools. The Oxford collection has received a record number of pre-orders and focuses on lightweight, 2-way stretch and rip-stop fabrics, whilst the Manchester lines champion fit and clean designs.
Of course, with all that choice, builders will need sufficient support to ensure they’re purchasing a fit for purpose product, and here again Helly Hansen is on hand. If the stretch functionality of the fabric is to come to the fore then sizing is of vital importance, and that makes consumer education central to the manufacturer’s message. Continues Nick: “In October we’re launching a global ‘try it on’ campaign and we would always encourage tradespeople in purchase from a trusted stockist who knows the clothing. We’re also adding to our video library all the time so customers can see the clothing in action. Builders do need to take time to think about the kind of work they do and the physical demands it will place on what they’re wearing, and we have a growing video library to help them make informed choices.”
Workwear is as vital a tool of the trades as a saw for a carpenter or a trowel for a bricklayer, and that is the guiding principle of Helly Hansen’s product development. “Our strapline is trusted by professionals,” concludes Nick, “and that holds good whether you’re in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, on top of Everest, or working in the building industry.”
For further information on Helly Hansen visit https://www.hellyhansen.com/en_gb/