Burlington, Tilley team up to supply isolation gowns for healthcare heroes
Posted June 4, 2020
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Legacy brands Burlington and Tilley Endurables are partnering to provide essential isolation gowns for healthcare workers in Canada.
An urgent call to action and quick response by Tilley began a journey that brought these two companies together again.
For more than 40 years Burlington has produced its Maxima® line of medical fabrics while Tilley has focused on making quality headwear designed to experience and enjoy the outdoors. Rooted in the core values of innovation, performance and sustainability, these brands are familiar partners in making hats but found a new connection amidst a global pandemic when Tilley pivoted its idle sewing capacity from hats to medical isolation gowns.
“Burlington is proud to be a part of an industry with such compassion and call to action as we have seen in the fight against COVID-19,” said Allen Smith, president Burlington, Safety Components & A&E – Americas. “The scarcity of PPE due to the COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the importance of reusable PPE, and we are pleased to offer our expertise to support Tilley as they step up to produce lifesaving isolation gowns.”
Tilley CEO Andrew Prendergast explained how it all started.
“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put out a national call in mid-March for all companies who could make personal protective equipment to register with the Canadian government,” he said. “We had just halted our sewing operations and furloughed 80 percent of our employees. While we did not have direct knowledge of how to make isolation gowns, we were confident in the skills of our employees to pivot from hats to PPE with the right resources. We started working directly with Toronto East Health Network to create a new isolation gown. It was a fascinating process and moved extremely quickly.”
The process of designing the isolation gown prototype involved several partners, including doctors at Toronto East Health who collaborated on the design of the gown and EcoTex, provider of laundry and linen services, who provided fabric specifications and patterns. The challenge came in finding raw materials.
“Protective fabrics are in short supply, so we set out to find a suitable fabric,” Prendergast said. “In talking with our elastic supplier American & Efird, they shared that a sister company within their own Elevate Textiles group was supplying another Canadian brand with medical fabrics. Our operations director put in a call, which connected us with a sales representative from Burlington – a familiar name and trusted supplier of fabrics to us.
“Fast forward 8 weeks,” he continued. “The prototype gown made from Burlington’s Maxima® fabric was completed, tested and approved by the hospital, and immediately put into production. Toronto Health’s support has been tremendous in trusting Tilley to deliver the same quality and care in gowns that we do in our hats, and they continue to champion our gowns and Burlington’s fabric every day.”
To date, Tilley has produced more than 5,000 isolation gowns, primarily supplying long-term health facilities within the Toronto East Health Network and more recently dental facilities.
Burlington’s Maxima® medical fabrics are engineered with specific yarns and constructions to provide the highest level of proven protection, durability and comfort, based on specified levels for ANSI/AAMI PB70 & EN13795 standards. A key advantage of Burlington fabrics is that they are reusable, which provides even greater assurance of being available when critical PPE is needed the most and promotes a more responsible, sustainable solution longer-term. Tilley’s “hats for life” guarantee reflect those same values and Tilley’s commitment to enduring quality, service and sustainability.
“We appreciate the opportunity for our A&E and Burlington brands to journey with Tilley as they stepped up and transitioned to producing PPE,” Smith said. “Our companies have an established partnership and shared values that support the current pandemic needs as well as longer-term opportunities to serve both the outdoor enthusiast and frontline hero with durable, reusable products known for quality and reliability.”