New ideas from Grundéns on oilskins and footwear
Grundéns has been around for a while. Karl Grundén was making protective clothing for seafarers more than a century ago, starting with cotton dipped in oil and later with waxes used for waterproofing, until rubber appeared in the 1930 and PVC changed took things in a new direction when it became available in the 1950s.
Based in Sweden, the company is a market leader in the US, where its products are sold by former fishermen Mike and Dave Jackson, and Grundéns is now looking to expand its European and other markets. Jörgen Weiss, with a background in sports clothing and footwear, has been brought in to build the brand up with new thinking, and he admits it has been a steep learning curve.
“There’s a lot of potential for innovation,” he said, adding that there are also items in the Grundéns product line that haven’t changed and don’t need to, such as the Brig jacket and Hercules bib-and-brace trousers that were introduced in 1954.
He said that Grundéns is putting plenty of effort into identifying the needs of an industry that has encompasses a very wide range of needs. He demonstrated by cutting a set of oilskins with a box cutter, without even leaving a mark. The high resistance in the new fabric is down to its surface having been imprinted with very small ceramic plates, designed to provide exceptionally high abrasion resistance.
“It’s based on what we have heard from lobster and oyster fishermen who are handling pots and dredges all day, and who see conventional oilskins wear out quickly. To come up with something innovative, you have to listen to your customers,” he said.
“We thought these would be expensive to produce, but have been able to make these at a price that’s lower than expected.”
As well as developing protective clothing, Jörgen Weiss is also directing work on developing better footwear for fishermen, including the Deck Boss boots that owe much to his long experience of sports footwear.
“Footwear is very important. You can live with wet feet, but not with a destroyed back – and your back can be severely damaged by long hours in bad footwear,” he said, explaining that Deck Boss boots combine the properties of an athletic running shoe and a ski boot, with injection moulding so there are no seams and the rubber sole provides maximum traction on deck.
The inserts serve to lift and cushion the foot, making this a unique product in the fishing market. The boot comes with a silicone band inset into a recess just above the ankle, allowing the legs of oilskin trousers to be securely tucked into them.
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