It started with a moment of inspired invention and is now a brand recognised worldwide. For more than 40 years, W.L Gore & Associates has prioritised innovation in its quest to build upon the legacy of the first GORE-TEX® fabric, which transformed the outdoor clothing marketing so long ago.
As new products and fabrics have emerged over the past four decades, the GORE-TEX name has increasingly grown in status so that, today, its label on an item is seen as an intrinsic mark of quality and durability. GORE-TEX products are connected with leading names in outdoor and sportswear, and the public trust in the brand has seen the company successfully move from hiking and mountaineering gear into the leisure market and endurance sports such as cycling and running.
Throughout its existence there have been several game-changing moments for the brand as new fabrics were developed to meet customer needs. From its first commercial order in 1976, the breathable, waterproof and windproof GORE-TEX fabric found early high-profile supporters, including one of the world’s greatest mountaineers, Reinhold Messner.
What Gore originally did for outdoor jackets, it later achieved for footwear in 1982 when the fabric bootie was invented. This technology was the catalyst for a brand new kind of trekking boot, one that was not only durably waterproof and breathable, but was also spectacularly lighter than others on the market.
As the number of companies incorporating Gore technology into their garments expanded, Gore decided to introduce a warranty guaranteeing quality in 1989. The GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY™ promise is now applied to all Original GORE-TEX products, regardless of manufacturer, with the promise that Gore will repair, replace or refund any GORE-TEX product that a consumer is unhappy with.
In 1998, the company joined the push for light and packable outerwear with the introduction of GORE-TEX PACLITE® fabric. This new material weighed just 100g per square metre compared with 160g for the current product, allowing for the creation of jackets with an overall weight of less than 500g.
Having sorted the body and the feet, 2003 saw the arrival of GORE-TEX XCR® gloves. Like all GORE-TEX products, these also underwent extensive testing and trialling to ensure they would be as durable and waterproof as other GORE-TEX garments and, importantly, that they would be comfortable enough to wear for active tasks.
The past two decades have been an incredibly fertile period for innovation. In 2006, Gore came up with GORE-TEX Pro Shell, created for the most rugged activities. Using the Gore Micro Grid Backer technology, it was designed specifically to remain protective and comfortable in even the harshest conditions.
2011 brought GORE-TEX Active to the market, designed to be lightweight, soft and with excellent next-to-skin comfort. The most breathable GORE-TEX product ever, it was targeted at increasingly popular high aerobic activities such as running, cycling and cross-country skiing.
Over the past few years even more products have reached the market. GORE-TEX SURROUND™ Footwear is now used by 25 Gore brand partners worldwide, introducing all-round breathable and waterproof footwear, including the sole. And another innovation for ski touring boots is the first heat mouldable boot liners. Gore warm technology is making gloves that keep your hands warmer for longer and the latest version of the GORE-TEX Active SHAKEDRY™ products contain a permanent beading surface which takes away the need for a face fabric – it’s the lightest and most breathable GORE-TEX product so far.
In response to the changing ways people choose to be outside, 2017 saw Gore enter a new evolution stage that went beyond just waterproofness. Marking a key milestone for Gore, GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ expanded the brand’s offering with an entirely new class of apparel, footwear and accessories designed for those who like to be active and whose top priority is functional clothing. Using its extensive knowledge of comfort science and how the human body reacts in concert with different climate demands, Gore developed innovative new product technologies for specific activities and users, while also offering them a performance upgrade that does not need to be waterproof.
To follow up on its innovations around adapting to experiences and various end uses, Gore updated its GORE-TEX Pro technology in 2020 to offer three different types of waterproof-breathable fabrics, each optimised for different types of performance. Featuring rugged, stretch and breathable technologies, they all meet the GORE-TEX GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY™ promise but are tailored to the specific needs of the end user. The fabrics take the high performance that consumers equate with the GORE-TEX Pro name, increase performance in specific areas, and then allow manufacturers to build garments in the way they think makes the most sense for their customers.
Looking to the future, technology is ever evolving and Gore will continue to grow with its customers and end users, reacting and adapting to their needs. But one area where very definite plans are in place is Gore’s commitment to sustainability
Gore aims to make a difference to the planet and people and using decades of scientific knowledge, R&D and testing, the Gore Fabrics Division continues to drive environmentally improved material innovations that deliver an optimised combination of high performance with a low environmental footprint. Gore’s current goals include reducing absolute carbon emissions originating in its manufacturing sites and offices by 60% by 2030; also by 2030, reduce absolute product related carbon emissions of its GORE-TEX products by 35%; and achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
Driven to ensure these targets are met and not just set, Gore hit multiple milestones in 2020 on its journey to achieving its sustainability goals. It achieved its goals, set three years ago, to have 85% of consumer garments laminates approved by bluesign® and 100% of consumer garments laminates certified under OEKO-TEX® Standard 100. It has also tripled the number of GORE-TEX laminates that use textiles with recycled content and solution dyed-yarn to more than 150.
For more than 40 years, Gore has never stopped exploring ways to make its celebrated products even better. Like an elite athlete, the company continues to hone and refine, determined always to be the best.