12 July 2018 Technical clothing and the importance of specifications

Technical clothing

We are all familiar with clothing, after all, we wear them all the time (or at least most of us!). Then what is technical clothing? Technical clothing can be broadly defined as clothing that is produced for non-aesthetic purposes where function is the primary criteria. In other words, these are clothing that are made to serve a specific purpose or range of purposes, excluding looking fashionable.

The types of technical clothing that everyday folks like you and me would own would generally be the rain jackets, winter clothing and sportswear such as compression suits. These clothing serve a specific purpose, like the rain jackets are supposed to keep you dry.  It would be any good if the rain jacket looks fantastic but leave you soaking wet in a downpour. There is another range of technical clothing where the ability of the clothing to serve its intended purpose is of key importance. These technical clothing are protective in nature, such as fire fighter suits, chemical biological hazard protection suits and fire resistant workwear. For these types of clothing, the compliance of the clothing to its intended purpose is of upmost importance. Any lapse, the wearer risks being seriously hurt or losing his/her life. Fire fighters for example, when they enter a fiery room or compound, their suits must be able to protect them. This is the key reason why technical specifications of the technical clothing are important.

Technical specifications, its importance and test reports

Technical specifications tell us the properties of the clothing and its various components. For government agencies and offices, technical specifications are important. Procurement officers must be acutely aware of the needs of their colleagues working at the front line as well as the technical possibilities and advancements of fabrics. In understanding both the needs and the possibilities, procurement officers can then better dictate the requirements of their various clothing which are achievable. In addition, by understanding both need and possibilities, procurement officers can also better advise their colleagues on the front line in how they can fine tune their operating procedures in responding to different situations on the ground.

Technical specifications must be verified by independent tests based on the numerous test standards available worldwide. Independent test reports also dispel any marketing talk and set the record straight on the features of the garment in mind. For the casual everyday folks buying non safety critical clothing, this is not important. For institutional procurement, this is of upmost important. The last thing anyone wants is for a protective garment to fail during situations it is meant to protect the wearer.


Technical clothing has come a long way since and there is constantly development on technical clothing in terms of design and materials. Everyday folks need not be overly concerned with the technical specifications as they are usually able to remedy a situation where the technical garment failed or the situation is non-life threatening. Institutional buyers face a different scenario as the technical clothing often serves a protective function. Institutions can least afford any situations where the technical garment has failed (was not suitable) and resulted in injuries or even death.

Ethan Foo Chwan Chieh,
Defence Systems