Each Tuesday leading up to Christmas this December, I will be interviewing members of the team, to share their extensive knowledge of uniform!
From the international trends we see emerging, to the five things every purchasing team should avoid when buying a uniform, you are in for a treat!
Today I sat down with Emily, the Senior Commercial Manager here at Studio 104. She sheds some light on the importance of a great uniform programme!
Ella: A hospitality uniform must perform technically as well as reflect brand image. Why is performance so important for a uniform?
Emily: Hospitality uniform needs to be tough and robust but not necessarily look it. These garments are going to be worn for 8 hour shifts and go through industrial dry cleaning every day. Uniforms go through a lot more after care processes than regular garments and so if the fabrics and construction haven’t been put together with uniform in mind then they won’t perform and your lovely new uniform won’t be looking good for very long. It can be a costly mistake to go with garments that aren’t created by specialist uniform suppliers and prove a false economy in the long run- garments manufactured to high street standards just won’t perform to the levels required for uniform and you will end up having to replace uniform more frequently and have constant repair bills on top of that.
At Studio 104 picking the correct fabrics and applying uniform know-how to every garment we create is absolutely central to everything we do. Yes we’re a very design-led company but we never lose sight of the fact that everything we produce has to perform as uniform.
Ella: What are the 3 most common mistakes companies make when purchasing a uniform?
Emily: The first would be leaving it too late. Many people do not realise how much time it takes to develop a great quality uniform.
The second mistake we see is not understanding the impact of making changes late in the design process. Even seemingly small changes, such as a colour palette change can mean a complete re-design and new fabrics having to be sourced. To avoid any late changes it is important for us to work with the key decision makers in the key meetings, to ensure we keep moving forward through the development process.
The third common mistake is being too constrained by what is perceived as ‘uniform’. It is our job to bring the design insight and trend awareness into meetings and guide the client to the best option for them, but when a client has a really open mind as to what is possible, that is when you end up with a really show stopping uniform.
Ella: And so what piece of advice would you give to a purchasing manager looking to purchase a uniform for their company?
Emily: People often don’t start looking at uniform early enough, they don’t realise how long the process can take. For example, to commission a bespoke weave such as the gold pinstripe suiting that we had made for The Beaufort Bar in The Savoy, it can take up to 3 months for a mill to weave the fabric. We would recommend starting to look at the uniform at least 6 months before it’s needed for a big launch. At Studio 104 we can and have done very fast turn-around projects and deliver them very well but there is a cost implication and other limitations placed on a fast-turnaround.
Ella: Studio 104 has been extremely busy this year, what are some of the highlights from your latest uniform launches and why?
Emily: We have recently delivered all the uniform for The Mondrian hotel and also Quaglino’s.
I loved the contemporary, trendy look they went for at The Mondrian. In the Sea Containers restaurant, the waitresses wear a navy wrap dress over a shirt dress, this is a perfect example of mixing style with practicality. For the wrap dress we sourced a durable apron fabric which can withstand the constant washing, however paired with the shirt dress it creates a really smart, contemporary look. I think this uniform really represents our design aesthetic at Studio-104.
For Quaglino’s, the highlight has got to be the hostess dress. Quaglino’s’ brief was to create a really show-stopping dress. This dress was quite a challenge to produce, with its complex panelling and skirt but seeing the hostesses walking around in their dresses is amazing. The dress has created a lot of interest in the restaurant’s uniform and they have had many people asking where it came from.
Found this interesting? Next week I shall be talking to Studio 104’s founder and managing director Jane Porter.
Ella, Buying and Design Administrative Assistant