It’s been in the works for more than a decade, but that’s just how W. L. Gore & Associates, makers of Gore-Tex waterproof linings, rolls. A new innovation doesn’t hit the market until it meets the company’s stringent performance standards. Now its ePE material is ready, beginning with a limited introduction for Fall/Winter ’22 in lifestyle footwear and outdoor garments from select partners (but not limited to) Adidas, Salomon, Arc’Teryx and Patagonia.
What makes ePE a big deal? In a nutshell, strength and sustainability. The material is a thinner yet equally durable and waterproof as previous Gore-Tex membranes, but its production involves a lighter environmental footprint. Achieving the latter, says Matt Schreiner, consumer fabrics sustainability champion, is a company cornerstone. “Our founders (Bill and Vieve Gore) built into our culture an obligation to not just make the best products, but also protect the planet and the communities we operate in,” he says, adding that it’s what the company’s brand partners also demand. “Our customers are working hard to improve their own planetary impacts, so they set the bar high for us.”
What makes the ePE lining more sustainable is its physical properties of being thinner and lighter, as well featuring recycled and solution-dyed performance textiles and no PFCs used. Matt Decker, global technical leader for Gore’s Consumer Apparel, Fabrics division, notes that new membrane is “roughly half the mass and thickness” of its current materials, but with the same mechanical strength and toughness. “We knew we were really onto something after our laminates were put through the rigorous field evaluations and still performing similarly to our existing laminates,” he says. Thus, ePE meets Gore Tex’s tagline: “Guaranteed to keep you dry.” Decker adds, “It’s more than a tagline. It’s a promise that we make that our customers expect.”