THE PVC GLOVE: ONE MAN DEDICATED TO PROTECTING THE HANDS OF HIS COMRADES
SHOWA’s story began over 60 years ago in Manchuria. Akeo Tanaka had been drafted into the army and suffered, like many of his countrymen, from the extremely harsh conditions. The difficult memory of these soldiers losing their fingers from frostbite, despite wearing rabbit skin gloves and cotton under-gloves, provoked a reaction in him that a few years later would revolutionise hand protection.
After the war, Tanaka worked in the manufacturing of PVC ink cartridges for fountain pens. He noticed that the traditional industrial work gloves at the time were strong, but not functional – the two most important needs. Inspired by the lost fingers of his comrades, he had the ingenious idea of developing a glove prototype using this “material of the future”. This was in 1953 and Akeo Tanaka had in fact just invented the PVC glove, the first of many steps in achieving his lifelong pursuit of protecting hands.
The first PVC glove was designed for safety and practicality: thick on the palm and fingertips with a thinner cuff for easy donning and doffing. Due to tactility in finger movement and durability of the glove, it was gaining popularity in marine use, industrial sectors and the fisherman’s trade (today, SHOWA 660 dominates this market).
DEVELOPMENT IN THE INDUSTRY: A TURNING POINT FOR SHOWA
Due to rapid automation in the 1970’s, the PVC industrial glove hit a turning point. Precision work became the main purpose of working gloves so new products were required to offer precise finger movement, while maintaining its strength and durability. Moreover, the seam inside the glove was causing discomfort for many customers. In response to this, SHOWA developed the SHOWA 610 with a seamless, comfortable inner liner. This was SHOWA’s first patent-protected product, which gave nearly 20 years of exclusive rights to sell and thrust the company into a prosperous future.