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The Scrubs Industry: An Analysis of Historical Evolution, Current Companies, and Future Directions

The Scrubs Industry: An Analysis of Historical Evolution, Current Companies, and Future Directions

, by Richard Spafford, 3 min reading time

The Scrubs Industry: An Analysis of Historical Evolution, Current Companies, and Future Directions


This paper provides a comprehensive overview of the scrubs industry, delving into its history, the key companies that have dominated the industry as of 2021, and speculating future trends.


Scrubs, commonly recognized as the default uniform for medical and healthcare professionals, have a rich history that mirrors the evolution of the healthcare sector. This uniform, comprising typically a short-sleeved shirt and pants, is named after its original purpose—serving physicians who 'scrubbed in' for surgery. Over time, scrubs have grown into a symbol of hygiene, professionalism, and identification in healthcare.

Historical Background:

  1. Origins: Scrubs' evolution is closely intertwined with advances in medical understanding and procedures. Originally, healthcare workers did not have a specific uniform and operated in everyday clothing, but this changed with the growing understanding of antisepsis in the late 19th century. The term "scrubs" originated in the early 20th century when doctors and other OR staff began wearing plain white 'surgical greens' to minimize eye strain from the harsh lighting in operating rooms.

  2. Color Evolution: As medical understanding grew, it was discovered that white scrubs could cause eye strain in the operating room due to the intense, reflective light. By the mid-20th century, most hospitals switched to green or blue scrubs, which were easier on the eyes and showed stains less.

  3. Standardization and Popularity: By the late 20th century, scrubs were standardized to the familiar v-necked short-sleeve shirt and drawstring trousers seen today. Their comfort, affordability, and the rise of medical dramas popularized scrubs, moving them beyond the hospital into other healthcare domains and the wider public.

Key Companies in the Scrubs Industry as of 2021:

The scrubs industry has seen numerous players vying for the market. The key companies as of 2021 include:

  1. CID Resources This company has a strong reputation for quality and style in the medical uniform market. They offer a wide range of scrubs in various styles, sizes, and colors.

  2. FIGS: FIGS revolutionized the scrubs industry with their focus on high-quality, comfortable, and fashionable scrubs. Their innovative approach and effective use of social media marketing made them one of the industry's fastest-growing companies.

  3. Barco Uniforms: Known for creating the Grey's Anatomy line of scrubs, Barco Uniforms have a reputation for stylish and comfortable designs. They have been in the uniform business for over 90 years.

  4. Landau Uniforms: Established in 1938, Landau Uniforms is known for its commitment to professional, comfortable, and durable medical scrubs.

Future Directions:

The future of the scrubs industry looks promising, bolstered by global healthcare industry growth and technological advancements. Some anticipated trends include:

  1. Functionality and Comfort: The industry is expected to continue emphasizing the comfort and functionality of scrubs. Increasingly, scrubs are designed with multiple pockets, smartphone compatibility, and improved fit.

  2. Sustainability: In line with global trends, the scrubs industry is likely to place increased focus on sustainability. This might include producing scrubs from recycled materials or implementing fair trade production methods.

  3. Technology Integration: Future trends may see further integration of technology into scrubs. This could include embedded wearable technology to monitor vital signs or facilitate communication.

  4. Online Sales: The trend of online sales, which skyrocketed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is likely to continue. This could see more brands focusing on direct-to-consumer models, bypassing traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.

  5. Personalization and Fashion: With the influence of TV shows and changing professional norms, the demand for fashionable, personalized scrubs is likely to grow. We can expect to see more variety in colors, patterns, and styles.


The scrubs industry has evolved significantly since its inception, from simple, practical garments to symbolize cleanliness and professionalism to fashionable attire that integrates technology and sustainability. Understanding the history, key companies, and potential future trends can provide valuable insights for stakeholders in the healthcare and garment industries alike. The trajectory of the scrubs industry promises innovation, sustainability, and ongoing evolution in response to the needs of medical professionals.

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