Aluminium coating used to enhance the thermal insulation of outerwear fabrics, and brass blended with Tactel branded multisoft fibre as the basis of polyurethane-coated cloths for the rainwear trade are among the more unusual textile components that DuPont believes will be in widespread use by winter 200l/2002.

Experts from the company's R&D team also forecast greater use of ceramic components as blend partners for both multisoft and Tactel coloursafe.

Meanwhile, DuPont sees the growing acceptability of "dressing down on Friday" - not just in the USA where the practice originated but across the whole affluent world - as a major future influence on workwear for office staff.

"In the UK even tailors who have traditionally catered for the City market are beginning to introduce 'urban casual' collections to run alongside their regular ranges," the company says.

"This is a sector where stretch for added comfort is increasingly important and where, by winter 200l, more subtle earthy tones will begin to take over from the traditional City shades of black, navy and grey."

DuPont expects that yarn dyes will dominate the woven fabric scene for winter 200l/2. But it also anticipates both knitted fabrics and actual knitwear to play a wider role than ever before in the successful executive's workwear wardrobe.

In the modern, centrally heated office, the polo shirt in fabrics knitted from "moisture management yarns such as our Tactel aquator will take over from the cut and sew shirt and tie, just as a slimmed down version of the arctic Parka will challenge the traditional overcoat as inner city outer wear," says DuPont.

By Sonia Roberts