Trends & Features

The importance of reflective running gear and accessories

I always feel that once we move out of September, that a switch is flicked and summer turns rapidly into autumn and in particular, the darker mornings and evenings are really with us. The weather, however, can be mixed – here in Manchester it was lashing down and cold last Friday and Saturday and today it is 20 plus degrees with the sun shining! No, it doesn’t always rain in Manchester!

So, this means that runners need a degree of high visibility apparel and accessories to enhance their visibility, yet not necessarily the complete cold weather clothing package, which tends to become more of a requirement as October moves on, with late October being a significant period when the clocks go back and it is getting dusk/dark from 4pm onwards. I will discuss this further later in the article, particularly for retailers and what they should be looking to do to maximize sales of such products.

The main purpose of reflective clothing and accessories hasn’t really changed in years – the key purpose being to offer daytime visibility and night-time conspicuity, the very same reason that road and track side workers wear reflective apparel. Reflective kit is even more effective than fluorescent clothing because it fires back light at the motorist. Reflective panels on apparel and accessories will also increase visibility, so for an example as a panel on a legwear piece will capture the attention as our visual system is more sensitive to a moving target.

Initially, fluorescent yellow jackets and accessories (gloves/ hats, etc) were the norm, and then brands wanting to put their own spin on things introduced different Hi-Viz colours, such as orange and lime green, and then ironically black, but with a lot of reflective trim/technology on. New reflective fabric developments have resulted in brands being able to offer 100 per cent reflective jackets.

It was, and still is to an extent, a feeling amongst some runners that they don’t want to look like a road side worker when out running, but without doubt flou yellow is still a really popular colour as most runners realise that visibility is more important than vanity!

However, new reflective technologies have meant that darker colours can be worn and look good and still offer a good degree of visibility, At Ronhill we have two new jackets for the AW18 season – Infinity Afterlight and Momentum Afterlight, that incorporate darker colours with highly visible panels that really shine when the light shines on them. These along with a comprehensive range of fluo yellow jackets means that we can look to cater for all of the needs of the runner as part of our ‘SEE ME RUN’ campaign.

Besides reflective trims, LED technology has really developed in recent years and can be incorporated into garments, or worn as separate accessories e.g. armbands, clips and shoe clips. All help to raise the visibility of the runner. They are relatively inexpensive and are easy to store in the kit bag when not in use.

In line with the development of reflective apparel, accessories have also developed considerably and can offer the runner warmth and comfort, i.e. hats and gloves, as well as extra visibility, either because they are fluo yellow with reflective trim, or again darker colours with reflective trim. Certainly as the weather gets darker and colder, then the runner has the best of both worlds. With socks being available in fluo colours and with reflective trim on footwear too, the runner can be covered from head to toe!

Many runners, perhaps more so those new to running, need to understand and be educated about the benefits of reflective apparel and accessories, as running in dark conditions in non-hi-viz colours can not only be a danger to motorists but to themselves too. I think that it is particularly important for children and, indeed, many athletic clubs insist that they wear reflective bibs or similar products when running on the streets at night.

We have all experienced the difficulties of seeing someone who is wearing dark-coloured clothing at night-time and if they are running then reaction times need to be increased significantly. Runners too, are sometimes more interested in their run than their safety!

Retailers need to take full advantage of the darker nights and looming colder/winter weather and ensure that they have the full range of reflective clothing and accessories on display and drawn to the attention of their customers.

In addition, a range of reflective clothing and accessories makes a great shop window display. Running specialists in particular can also arrange evening runs from their stores ensuring at all times that the runners are wearing suitable reflective clothing/accessories.

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