Protective clothing is an important segment in the technical textile market and gains interest from companies to diversify its market presence. Many of the high technology fibers such as Kevlar, Nomex, Twaron, Spectra, Kermel, P84, carbon impregnated fibers, aramid spunlace materials, and fiberglass finds application in protective clothing. Protective clothing is made to provide protection against different types and varying level of hazards. At lower levels, protective clothing is worn to avoid dirt, smoke at industrial site whereas at higher levels, it is worn to protect against extreme danger.
Geographically, the protective clothing market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA. North America was leading the world protective clothing market, owing to an early adoption of stringent regulation regarding worker safety and rapid development in the related products, in 2015. However, industrial developments and rise in demand for protective clothing from various application industries have fueled significant growth in Asia-Pacific as well. In U.S. and Europe, OSHA, REACH, and other regulatory bodies have separate guidelines for the use of protective clothing in end-use industries industry, to control and safeguard the interest of consumers. Asia-Pacific is another major region that drives the demand for these products, due to a huge population base and rise in disposable income.
Strict government regulations regarding safety of workers in metal (steel & aluminum), energy (oil & gas), transportation (automotive and commercial vehicle), and building & construction industries in developed countries, such as the US, Germany, and the UK, and rise in concern for the protection of military personnel drive the market for protective clothing and particularly for fire & heat resistance fabrics.
North America holds maximum share in the world protective clothing market in 2015 owing to strict U.S. regulations and federal regulations. According to federal regulation it is mandatory for the workers working on roadways and roads open to public travel to wear high visibility clothing. This in turn drives the market of Hi-Vis clothing in North America. Also, increase in construction and manufacturing industry in North America propels the demand of protective fabrics market in this region.
Rise in concern for worker’s safety and governmental regulations augment the demand for protective clothing in several end user industries, such as building and construction, oil & gas, mining, and many more. This indicates the presence of large number of buyers of protective clothing in the market. Limited number of key players of protective clothing and large number of buyers indicates products are purchased on contract basis. Also, the products are purchased in bulk quantity and are highly differentiated, which subsequently lowers the bargaining power of buyers. Moreover, threat of backward integration is low as manufacturing protective clothing is not a cumbersome process. All these aforesaid factors indicate lower bargaining power of buyer.
Furthermore, constantly developing innovative products and investment in R&D activities increases the competition among the manufacturers of protective clothing. Major key players seek forward integration for example, DuPont occupies the important position throughout the value chain, from raw materials to end use industries. The company is a chemical manufacturer, fiber producer, distributor, manufacturer, and supplier as well as end user. To gain market share players invest more for differentiating themselves from the other players. Thus, considering all the aforementioned factors, the competitive rivalry prevailing in the world protective fabrics market is high.
Emerging economies such as India, China, Brazil, and others have seen an increase in their disposable income, resulting in the rise in demand for protective equipment and clothing. Factors such as demand for protective clothing in various end-user industries, growing penetration of protective clothing in various application industries, governmental funding & support for protective clothing, collaboration & strategic alliances among industry players and decreasing price of protective clothing are expected to drive the market growth. As the penetration of protective clothing inflates at an exponential rate, it creates more opportunities for industry players to position themselves to meet this growth.