Back in the 1950s, Myron Breakstone realized that there had to be a better way to keep workers warm. A World War II vet who saw pilots freezing in bombers, Breakstone also knew firsthand the discomfort of laboring in the cold, having worked previously for his family company, Breakstone Dairy.

While cold-environment workers traditionally relied on wool and goose down for warmth, Breakstone recognized the need for warm industrial wear that was lightweight and easier to work in. And thus, RefrigiWear was born, catering to workers in New York City’s Meatpacking District.

Eventually joining with brother-in-law Mort Malden, the new company provided an alternative to the cumbersome layers that workers in the meat business were accustomed to; they became one of the first companies to use polyester fiberfill in a commercial application.

The debut collection included eight items in fabrics technically advanced for the time, and over the years, the brand has become known for its guarantee of warmth and comfort in the most frigid of temperatures. With products ranging from hooded suits to touchscreen gloves in apparel categories ranging from Flame Resistant Insulated Outerwear to Iron-Tuff Freezerwear, few bases are left uncovered.

Already having been well established in the line of supplying industrial wear, the company was taken by surprise when a European documentary filmmaker saw RefrigiWear garments being sported by workers in Manhattan, and sought to license RefrigiWear products in Italy. With new designs created to appeal to the leisure markets, the brand took off in Europe, Russia and Japan. RefrigiWear gathered an international cult following for people who love the combination of design and performance.

In addition to the fashion lines, as businesses began investing in brand identity and more fashion-aware uniforms, the demand for stylish workwear has increased. If you notice a notably chic driver delivering food to a Manhattan restaurant from a refrigerated truck, chances are he or she is wearing RefrigiWear.

“When we build these more fashionable ranges,” said Ron Breakstone, son of Myron and current RefrigiWear president, “we try to use the right mixtures to produce comfort, warmth, and durability.”

Which completely keeps in line with the company’s initial mission; RefrigiWear’s first ad for the debut collection used the tagline, “A modern way to keep warm.”

Almost sixty years later, the claim remains valid.

Although the company doesn’t sell directly to fashion retailers, consumers can shop online from the RefrigiWear website. Watch a video detailing RefrigiWear’s history below:

Related stories on MNN:

RefrigiWear: Freezerwear for fashionistas
The industry’s leading manufacturer of insulated industrial workwear keeps workers safe and warm, but many of their designs are hitting the streets as well.