The styles and designs of hotel uniforms have been updated drastically over the last few years, with the focus on fashion combined with comfort coming out as the top priority. We look at what’s hot in the wardrobe of boutique hotel workwear.
Trendy, fashion-forward and stylish comfort haven’t been words traditionally associated with hotel uniforms, but now a new wave of contemporary designs is forcing change in the boutique hotel sector.
The trend for creative garments that provide great durability and can withstand the daily wear and tear of the working environment is driving the way hoteliers shop for uniforms. Demand has shifted and hoteliers are looking for styles, designs and materials that align with their brand image, as well as stand out and give the wearer a change to add a touch of their own personality. Uniforms are a tangible way of communicating the values of the business to anyone who walks through the door.
Millennials are leading this, having a huge influence on the way hotel employees are dressed and inspiring new looks that are both comfortable and fashionable.
“There has been a shift toward the more artisan, theatrical and vintage when it comes to uniform trends,” says Rick Shonfeld, commercial director, Oliver Harvey. “We have seen more and more hotels incorporate tweed and ‘hipster’ style clothing into their uniforms, with some going the other way and opting for a more minimal, sleek and sophisticated approach to uniforms.”
Material girls and boys
The materials chosen for your uniforms will be a deciding factor and should be given a lot of thought before the final purchase is made. Why not ask for some samples from your supplier and pass on to a selection of staff to ‘test drive’?
“The choice of cloth is very important,” says Ryan Brockbank, corporate tailoring manager, Gresham Blake. “It has to last, look and feel a year later, the same it did from day one. Polyester and wool mixes are common as it keeps costs realistic but also is more durable.
Last year, Brighton-based tailors Gresham Blake were commissioned to design bespoke 1940’s inspired gold silk backed uniforms with gold ties and blue shirts for staff working in the Terrace, Lounge and Bar area at The Grand Brighton.
The Chanel style jacket designed gives staff a classic silhouette, but also a contemporary edge and was a popular addition, while quirky shirts that evoke conversation between staff and guests were also in demand.
“The shirt designs we produced for The Grand Brighton, made up of tea trays, cakes, and cups and saucers for the day, and cocktails and dice for the evening, make fun and unique garments,” adds Brockbank.
Uniforms that inject fun and a sense of curiosity among guests are perfect for boutique hotels, which aim to do exactly that with their complete hospitality offering. At Oliver Harvey, more niche uniforms like elegant dressed, tweed suits, knitted ties, anything tartan and braces are becoming more and more popular, signifying that the casual look is well and truly en vogue.
Shonfeld comments: “Casual uniform options such as ankle grazer trousers, printed t-shirts and skinny jeans worn with waistcoats and a check shirt are also styles that are becoming more common in hotels.”
Paula Cannon from Tailored Image explains that the rise of the celebrity chef has helped shine a light on back of house roles, helping to bring uniforms into the spotlight as a result.
“The rules have all been broken,” explains Cannon, “the rise of the celebrity chef and the popularity of certain TV shows has given rise to what used to be back of house now just as important of front of house when it comes to uniform. Providing great uniforms for all areas of the business has become the norm.”
The right supplier
So you’re thinking of upgrading your uniform, and whether that’s across the board, just a handful of roles or a department-specific roll out, you’ll need the help of suppliers who understand what your brief.
The key thing here is to research the market; set time aside to trawl websites online and speak to companies to find out their experience.
Shonfeld comments: “If they know their stuff, they’ll be able to feed useful information back to you. You can also ask about their experience in handling projects similar to yours and check out reviews of them from similar businesses. Inviting a few of them over to your premises would allow them to get a feel for what your business is all about, and make recommendations based on this. You should also ask them to bring samples for you to try.
He adds: “From an operational perspective, you should look to find out their lead times, costs, level of customisation, quality control, design capability and source of manufacturing.”