Laid out in front of us are different gloves in various colours and designs. We've tried them on and felt good in all of them. “We wanted to create gloves that offer a perfect fit paired with excellent warmth and moisture management, also ones that you can keep on when you tear open an energy bar or get something out of your pocket,” explains GORE-TEX product specialist gloves & accessories Florian Stark. The new multifunctional gloves from GORE® Wear are the outcome of a revolutionary new 3D glove construction. We've come here to find out just how much development work and expertise has gone into the making of these gloves. At this workshop, we're going to see for ourselves how the technology within a product comes to life, at least that's what we've been told. Which is also the reason why we're going to be making a pair of gloves ourselves. After all, “It's only when you make something yourself that you fully realise quite how much work goes into it,” says Gore Associate Patrick Goerdes. It turns out that he is absolutely right.
A highly complex part of the body
The art of glove making is just as complex as the art of shoe making. There are more bones in your hands and feet than in any other part of your body: 27 in each hand, making it one of the most complex and most distinct parts of the body. “It is also one of the most sensitive organs we have,” Florian says. The greatest challenge for a glove maker lies in creating a glove that allows for absolute freedom of movement in all directions while offering the level of protection, warmth and tactility, plus the kind of grip, required by the sport in question. Where should the seams be placed and where not? Where do gel pads make sense? “The intended use is very important for the construction of a glove. That's why we work hand in hand with our athletes while we're developing our products. For instance, mountain bikers aren't interested in frills, what they want is the strongest possible grip.” However, what everyone wants more of is multifunctionality. “The traditional cyclist or runner is almost a thing of the past. These days, nearly everyone is a multiple-discipline athlete. Today, most consumers take a broader view and don't want to be restricted by their gear,” explains GORE® Wear Associate Jürgen Kurapkat. No longer wanting to be restricted in its own product development, Gore brought the new GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ brand to market in autumn 2018. This new brand includes all Gore product ranges that go beyond “waterproof and breathable”, focusing more on “comfort and protection”. “Introducing GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ to the marketplace offers us a lot more freedom when it comes to product development and in the way in which we can combine our technologies. This is because the ultimate outcome no longer has to be waterproof. We can now offer product ranges that are even more functional and even more geared towards the needs of our target audiences.”
Enhanced tactile sensitivity by way of a single-seam construction
Appropriately, the two black, glove-shaped material pieces in front of us are made of the newly developed GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ stretch material. It is windproof, water resistant and highly breathable. At one of the industrial sewing machines in Gore's sampling room, our task is to sew them together by means of a single seam because, according to Florian, additional seams just get in the way and make the gloves less tactile. Never having been any good at needlework at school, unpleasant memories come flooding back. Fortunately, Regina and Heidi, two sewing professionals, are here to help. In their strong Bavarian accents, they tell us how to use the sewing machines and position the stretch material correctly. Sewing the fingers is a tricky business. Finding my fine motor skills somewhat lacking, I'm only too pleased to accept when help is offered. After all, I do want to be able to wear these gloves one day. We then each choose a logo and use a press to stamp it onto the fabric. Next, we take our sewn-up gloves to the laboratory where they are heated in a special oven. After that, they are put over a specially designed hand manikin, which is a bit like a shoe last in shoemaking. “The heat causes the stretch material to lose a bit of its elasticity. This means that the gloves keep their shape and yet still remain elastic,” Florian explains. This innovative manufacturing process uses up to 30% fewer seams and less material whilst producing a substantially improved grip. Back in the sampling room, Heidi and Regina help us finish off the cuffs before we proudly try on our very own gloves. We're even allowed to take them home with us, which is a bit of an exception. Normally, before any glove from the GORE-TEX or GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ product ranges makes its retail debut, it must survive punishing tests and rigorous quality checks in Gore's laboratories.
In fact, my gloves complete their first field test to my entire satisfaction. These gloves fit like a second skin, are comfortable to wear and, because they only very minimally reduce your natural finger sensitivity, you can keep them on for almost all your everyday actions. They are also touch screen compatible. On bitterly cold winter days, they can even be worn under another pair of gloves. Anyone who knows from experience to what extent cold hands are a photographer's worst enemy will appreciate this thin, windproof and water resistant layer.
GORE® M GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ GLOVES WITH STRETCH TECHNOLOGY are the ideal multifunctional gloves for outdoor activities and sports like running and cycling. The GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ stretch material is windproof and water resistant, keeping your hands comfortably warm, dry and protected in cool and windy weather. The close-to-skin fit also increases breathability because there is no air gap to overcome and moisture from sweat can move straight through the material to the outside. These gloves have been available at retail since the beginning of December 2018 and cost €44.95.