RefrigiWear has more than 60 years’ experience providing the best in cold protection. Travel through our history to see how we arrived here today.
1952 – The Beginnings of RefrigiWear
Myron Breakstone decides there must be a better way to keep warm after witnessing the challenges bombers in WWII and workers in his family dairy alike had staying warm. He founds the Insulated Clothing Manufacturing Company. It sadly closes the same year, but didn’t stop Myron’s dream.
(Image: Myron Breakstone in the original factory)
1954 – RefrigiWear Clothing Company is Founded
Dedicated to his dream of creating a line of high quality, comfortable insulated apparel, Myron Breakstone strikes out again, this time with his brother-in-law Mort Malden – RefrigiWear Clothing Company is born. Winter-Seals are promoted as “the modern way to keep warm.”
(Image: The original RefrigiWear factory in Manhattan, NY)
1960 – Iron-Tuff is Introduced
The iconic Iron-Tuff line launches. Originally made from a heavy nylon used to protect parachutes, Iron-Tuff is still sold today, protecting workers down to -50°F. The Iron-Tuff brand has hundreds of thousands of users in the food services industry, and it has been a staple of the RefrigiWear line for many years through updates in material and our proprietary Iron-Tuff insulation: RefrigiFill.
(Image: The beginnings of the iconic Iron-Tuff line)
1965 – Field & Stream Feature
A “doubting Thomas” and writer for Field & Stream magazine decides to put the RefrigiWear Coveralls to the test. Mr. Clare Conley wore an Iron-Tuff suit in a quick-freeze room at a temperature of -40° to -60°F for an hour. “The tip of my nose grew cold, and my eyebrows frosted, but I was comfortable.” Outdoor sportsmen start relying on RefrigiWear to keep warm while hunting, fishing, and for other activities.
(Image: The Clare Conley review in Field & Stream)
1970 – Focus on Outdoorsmen
1975 – Ron Breakstone Joins the Company
Myron’s oldest son, Ron, joins the company. “This company arose from the dedication and drive for excellence of two of my role models, my father and uncle,” says Ron. “I wanted to continue the family business and further develop their hard work.
(Image: Ron Breakstone at an industry trade show in the 90s)
1980 – Getting Back to RefrigiWear’s Roots
Though successful with outdoor customers in the 60s and 70s, the 80s bring a renewed focus on the original niche market of indoor cold temperature workers. “Sno” suits and Town Coats are discontinued and the product line is fine tuned to meet the needs of RefrigiWear’s business customers.
(Image: A RefrigiWear Catalog from the early 80s)
1985 – Business Services Expansion
Though RefrigiWear always offered embroidery services and accessories, with the renewed focus on business customers comes an expansion in these offerings. Embroidery equipment is upgraded and the service advertised more, and the headwear, footwear, and hand wear lines expand.
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(Image: A RefrigiWear catalog cover)
1988 – Passing the Torch
Ron Breakstone and his business partner Mark Silberman, who already had an established career in apparel, buy the company from the founders, brothers-in-law Myron Breakstone and Mort Malden.
(Image: Ron Breakstone (left) and Mark Silberman (right) accepting an award at an employee luncheon in the 90s)
1991 – Move to Georgia
1996 – European Market
A documentary filmmaker encounters RefrigiWear products in food processing plants in NY. He starts importing RefrigiWear to Italy and a new market is born – American Industrial Fashion is sold in boutiques around Italy. Today the products are licensed under the RefrigiWear name and no longer imported.
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(Image: An Italian RefrigiWear jacket)
2002 – Warmth AND Style
With more and more business customers wearing their gear out of work, RefrigiWear puts a renewed focus on style along with the signature toughness, durability, and warmth. Popular styles are “RefrigiWear-ized” to be warmer and tougher.
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(Image: The Insulated Softshell jacket in action)
2014 – Extreme Collection Introduced
Celebrating 60 years of business, RefrigiWear releases the EXTREME COLLECTION – with garments rated down to -60°F. These are warmest products in the RefrigiWear line that protect you from the harshest conditions.
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(Image: The Extreme Softshell Jacket and Extreme Freezer Gloves in action)
2015 – RefrigiWear Online
RefrigiWear improves its online experience with an updated website, better ordering options such as online embroidery ordering for business customers, and more. Customers can view the entire product line, get information from the RefrigiWear Knowledge Center and Blog, and more on the new refrigiwear.com
(Image: A screenshot of refrigiwear.com)
2017 – RefrigiWear Breaks New Ground in Innovation with PolarForce
Continuing our tradition of making gear that keeps you warm and lets you work hard, we introduced PolarForce™ with Performance-Flex. The RefrigiWear PolarForce collection is designed to keep you warm without losing flexibility or hindering movement. Keeping you protected down to -40°F, every product is designed for performance with materials that move with you. PolarForce is a complete collection: a jacket, bib overalls, sweatshirt, gloves and two boots are available.
2017 also launched our new Transportation focused catalog, with gear and articles specific to drivers and other transportation professionals.