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    AI Meets Style: GORE-TEX brand's Spin on the Future of Workwear

    Norbert Selle

    A stormtrooper look-alike working the streets, seemingly having just escaped the movie studio. A jacket with an illuminated city map with a Klimt-style aesthetic. A construction worker as strong as Godzilla. Science fiction? Or reality? Visionary, certainly, but not pure fantasy. These and many more are photorealistic visualizations of workwear concepts GORE-TEX brand created with AI and partners.

    "At Gore, we always start with the end users. Where do they work? What are their needs? What are their pain points? How can we improve comfort? Our focus goes beyond just laminates, tapes, and textiles - we are committed to understanding the daily challenges our end users face and then collaborate with leading manufacturers to constantly improve workers' protection and comfort," says Leonard Schlichting, Business Leader Workwear at Gore.

    from street operator to heritage handyman - there is not the "one" future of workwear

    Street Operator| Augmented Wireman| High Performer| Heritage Handyman

    During its process, the GORE-TEX fabrics' team collaborates closely with leading workwear manufacturers, think tanks, research agencies, universities as well as end users. The helicopter view of megatrends and macroeconomic market research is blended with hands-on information, resulting from interviews with end users from different fields that are confronted with "their" specific challenges and risks day in and out. In cooperation with their designer Jo Baumgartner at the consultancy Q'rateur, the pile of information and future signals was condensed into four future personas.

    four personas as archetypes of special functional needs

    These future personas symbolize different design trends, each representing an archetypal end user with very specific protective needs. They add a human touch and enable the team to put themselves into the shoe of each end user. Moreover, they are a perfect canvas to investigate and explore new ideas, some radical, some pragmatic. These four personas were dubbed the Street Operator, Augmented Wireman, High Performer and Heritage Handyman. The Street Operator, for example, has a tough job as he faces challenges on the road, is exposed to hot or wintery weather, pouring rain and heavy traffic and walks dozens of kilometers per day. Smart comfort elements such as active heating and cooling help to regulate body temperature, enhanced safety vests with integrated protectors and active lighting protect against traffic hazards and integrated lighting helps to illuminate the workplace hands-free. The Augmented Wireman needs to move heavy weight around and may have to enter restricted areas in production facilities. His gear includes technical features such as bionics, smart access devices, data screens and smart goggles with augmented reality included.

    AI offers tremendous opportunity for swift visualization

    How do these folks look like? "In the past, it would have taken many boards, flipcharts and prototypes in tedious work to visualize concepts for such personas. A tool that has opened vast possibilities in design and quick visualization is Artificial Intelligence (AI) for us" says Reza Jamshidi Azad, garment concept designer at Gore. It has evolved from a toy to play with to a serious tool. The key term here is "generative design," a process that uses AI algorithms and cloud computing to quickly develop photorealistic visuals.

    stylish design is increasingly becoming a differentiator in workwear

    AI offers not only speed and endless inspiration, but also adds an element of style.  "We know from research that design is increasingly becoming a differentiating factor in purchasing decisions. Workwear is no longer just about what workers have to wear for safety, but what they want to wear" Reza continues. "AI helped us to add this aesthetic element for end users to not only look good at work, but also at after hour drinks."

    So, will we see these concepts in reality? "This is not on Gore to decide. We are a material science company and develop technologies for functional clothing, but not a manufacturer of workwear. As a consultant and sparring partner for the manufacturers though, we can help spark new concepts and styles that are supported by our technologies" Schlichtling sums up. "But who knows? I love to dream big and could not be prouder to meet an end user wearing one of these garments one day."

     

    Norbert Selle

    Global Public Relations and Sustainability Communications

    Norbert, Global Public Relations and Sustainability Communications for GORE-TEX Professional, spreads the word about how Gore protects those who protect us when it matters most. He spends every spare minute outdoors, hiking, running, or cross-country skiing in his growing collection of GORE-TEX gear. Dauntlessly and (so far) unsuccessfully tries to convince his kids to join him, arguing that spending time outdoors is cooler than playing indoors. Passionate about the unique Gore culture of respect for people and the planet.

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