Retailers including Inc. and clothing manufacturers like Carhartt Inc. say they are seeing an increased demand for sturdy shoes and fire-resistant clothing that oil and gas workers can wear to protect themselves from fires and explosions.
The appetite for fracking gear is leading clothes makers to send research and development teams to consult with oil-field workers in Texas and North Dakota, in the same way Nike Inc. taps elite athletes to test out its track shoes and football cleats.
VF Corp., the maker of Timberland boots, Wrangler jeans and North Face jackets, says it is pulling research teams from malls and placing them alongside workers in muddy oil fields. Their task: Figuring out how to turn the historically firefighter-like gear into lighter, more breathable clothing.
The U.S. military has also played a role in the safe-clothing expansion by pushing U.S. textile mills to create flame-resistant fabrics cool enough that soldiers can wear them in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. In turn, the textile mills plunged the research and technology into fabrics they make for frackwear manufacturers.When I was up there -- a long time ago, now -- it was Carhartt at Home of Economy. I can't imagine anything other than Carhartt for cold North Dakota winters.