05. March, 2010

GORE-TEX – Success story of a unique brand

Success stories typically have an unusual beginning. So does the story of the GORE-TEX brand. 50 years ago chemist Bill Gore launched the W.L. Gore enterprise in the basement of his home in Newark in the state of Delaware/USA together with his wife Vieve. He applied some of the characteristics of PTFE – i.e. its electrically insulating, heat-resistant, chemically inert and low friction properties – to implement his new idea in the electronic industry. Today W.L. Gore & Associates is global leader in the processing of fluoropolymers and employs over 9,000 people in its four divisions (Industrial Products, Electronic Products, Fabrics and Medical Products) and 45 plants across the globe.

The discovery of expanded PTFE and its unique ability to be both permeable to vapour and liquid proof at one and the same time marked the most significant milestone in the history of the company. Gore had thus come up with an invention which was to revolutionise the textile and clothing market and create a completely new market segment. This development saw the launch of a product that succeeded in uniting the conflicting performance features of waterproofness and breathability in one product. This extremely robust material, which can be used in a wealth of different applications, became well-known under the GORE-TEX brand name. In 1969 the first products made with expanded PTFE came onto the market and in 1976 the first GORE-TEX jackets followed. Today GORE-TEX fabrics can be found in garments, footwear, gloves and hats for all kinds of uses. Whether for some kind of outdoor sport, for skiing, motorcycling, watersports, golf, fashionable everyday wear or for workwear (i.e. for the fire services or police), the GORE-TEX brand always offers its wearer ultimate protection and enhanced comfort.

The basic principle of the GORE-TEX membrane: the pores of the membrane are 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water, yet 700 times larger than a water vapour molecule. All GORE-TEX products are therefore totally waterproof, windproof and breathable at the same time. Over 200 million products are currently in active use worldwide.

From a component to a successful power brand

There are so many brands on the market. Only very few become as successful as the GORE-TEX brand and manage to establish themselves permanently as global players. Intensive communication with retailers and end-users has also helped make the GORE-TEX brand synonymous with high quality functional products. It is also a prime example of a successful “ingredient brand“, which is when a product component has its own identity and becomes one of the main reasons for buying the product. Today, in Europe alone over 25,000 points of sale offer the latest product innovations, such as the highly durable GORE-TEX Pro Shell products, consolidating Gore’s position in the market which, right from the start, was characterised by enormous innovative strength and a vigorously pursued quality driven strategy.

High quality products and a guarantee promise

The introduction of the GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY® promise in 1989 marked a crucial turning point in Gore’s business model. “We had been selling laminates for a decade. From this point on we started to develop new products and technologies specifically tailored to the needs and applications of our customers and thus took on a much more significant role in the textile value chain,“ explains Tom Bugg, Brand Manager at W.L. Gore & Associates. Since then, Gore customers have been licensed. The manufacture of the garments may only be carried out in production facilities which have been certified by Gore. Gore’s motto has since been “quality right from the start” – from the individual components to the finished product. This also involves the development of specific construction methods which ensure that the guarantee promise is honoured. Fit for use: extensive testing during all production phases and field tests carried out by professional athletes under extreme conditions guarantee end-users the quality they have been promised.