Ex Officio, and its parent company, Orvis, will be the first companies to debut a line of apparel treated with Buzz Off Insect Shield, and as a result, be the first to market with the first insect-repellent apparel registered by the EPA -- a lot of firsts.
As you may recall, Ex Officio was ready to introduce its own brand of insect repellent apparel last year, under the Bug Away brand name, but ran afoul of EPA regulations and the interminable process in getting a product registered.
"After we yanked Bug Away here in the U.S. (Bug Away is still distributed overseas in Great Britain and other countries), we came across some guys in North Carolina working on the same project we were trying to tackle, and they were very far along in the process," Rick Hemmerling, president of Ex Officio, told SNEWS.
One of the biggest hurdles -- 100 percent reclaim of the chemicals used in treating the fabrics -- had already been solved by Buzz Off Insect Shield LLC -- the very issue tripping up the Ex Officio team and others trying to master the creation of bug repelling clothing. Talks commenced and before long, Buzz Off signed Ex O and Orvis to debut the product.
"To me, this is revolutionary for the market," Hemmerling said. "UV has been approached and tackled, moisture management has been solved, waterproof/breathable has been addressed, but until now, no one had been able to do anything about bugs, and you'd think someone could."
Currently, Buzz Off clothing has been tested and approved for repelling ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, no-see-ums, flies and ants.
Each garment is first made in Asia then shipped to North Carolina where the Buzz Off treatment is applied. Treatments are considered good for the lifetime of the garment with a label that lists the repellent will remain effective through 25 launderings. The application process involves heat binding to bond the chemical to the fibers and there is no way currently to reactivate or reapply the permethrin-based repellent once it is washed out or worn off.
Ex Officio will be introducing a line of pants, shirts, socks and shorts at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, and also be bringing to market a line of children's apparel. All the insect repellent apparel will be sold under a separate label -- Buzz Off by Ex Officio.
The children's line is extra special to Hemmerling, because Ex Officio and Buzz Off are donating 100 percent of the after-tax profit from the Kid's Buzz Off line to the Hole in the Wall Camps, founded by Paul Newman in 1988.
The Hole in the Wall Camps are non-profit residential summer camps for children with serious illnesses and life-threatening conditions. What started as a dream by Paul Newman to help children has grown into year-round centers that support the children, their parents and siblings. Over 7,000 children each year between the ages of 7 and 15 attend the camps free of charge. The entire cost of staffing and operating the camps are covered by donations from generous people, businesses and organizations across the country.
"Since many Ex Officio dealers we spoke to also wanted to be involved with the camps, we've developed a program that will add a dollar to the wholesale price of each item, which will then be donated directly to the camps in the store's name," Hemmerling told us. "We handle all the paperwork and supply dealers with special POP support tools highlighting the partnership with Paul Newman's camps."
SNEWS View: Well, after one of our team just returned from guiding a Big City Mountaineers trip in Yosemite, and reported that you couldn't see the sky or mountains because of all the mosquitoes (we're still giving her blood transfusions), we're eagerly in line for that first shipment of insect repelling clothing. Double thumbs up for the company's generosity to Hole in the Wall, as well. Now, if they can just figure out a way to keep the damn bugs from buzzing around our ears, we'll be all set.