Style. Fit. Function. Apparel for the law enforcement officer must play a delicate balancing act with all three. Your agency may be looking to update its appearance, improve the officer safety by better performing fabrics, or just simply put officers into something just a little more comfortable. Hopefully the wants, needs, and a few nice-to-haves will match the budget.
Knowing which direction to take in selecting the clothing officers will wear can be daunting—especially with how quickly the industry changes year over year. To help provide a brief state of the industry to the current trends of law enforcement uniforms, a few industry experts offered their insights.
A special thank you to our panel of subject matter experts for providing their insight: David Hein, Vice President and GMM for 5.11 Inc.; Stephen Blauer, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Blauer; Steve Zalkin, President of North American Uniforms and Manufacturers & Distributors (NAUMD); Ace Laserna, National Sales Manger – Armor and Joe Ruggeri, Senior VP of Apparel Merchandising for Propper International; as well as Jeff Searcy, President of Tac Wear USA.
How have body armor carriers blended into today’s uniform?
How has apparel changed to meet the needs of everyday carry items?
Has there been integration of tactical medical equipment?
Are agencies looking for high-performance COTS options?
It depends on who you ask but, the trend favors agencies looking for uniforms that look and feel more like COTS clothing. I believe the answer is more about law enforcement age demographics. As chiefs retire and younger personnel move up into decision making roles, the statement takes on reality. The younger demographic has grown up with Dockers, Nike, Under Armour and want to work in similar apparel. The 40-year old and younger officer has never worn a pair of traditional 16 ounce, 55% poly / 45% wool dress style uniform trousers (still my personal favorite pant)." — NAUMD
How do you see wearable technology affecting the uniform?
"Today’s uniform shirts feature tabs for hooking up cameras and microphones. Some even incorporate a channel with the garment for running communication cable. For SWAT, newer armor carriers also incorporate these features for easy connectivity with team communication." — Propper