Heritage, sustainability and bringing community and service together, will be key trends in hospitality uniforms this year
Katie Young Gerald, an award-winning designer and founder of Bespoke Textiles has a passion for second hand and vintage-inspired collections, so it’s no surprise that she’s fascinated by the growing interest in authenticity and heritage as we emerge from the pandemic. Whether it’s a desire for solidity or reassurance, there’s no doubt in her mind that this is feeding into workwear design: “The heritage of brands is being brought out more than ever in hospitality.
There’s much more interest in the depth of their backgrounds being expressed through uniforms or textiles.” And local traditions are playing a big part.
As a result, Bespoke Textiles is receiving requests for more classics such as tweeds, waistcoats and the Baker Boy cap (as seen in Peaky Blinders) showing authenticity to the original styles that some of these sites are associated with.
Alongside all this is the need to demonstrate sustainability, she says. “There’s a demand for much more local made and UK based product with the opportunity to have smaller bespoke, more unique, repeats available by using clever collaboration.”
Also adding to this focus is that outdoor dining appears to be here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. There’s a lot of thinking going on as to how we can be creative with outdoor spaces while providing an enjoyable experience for guests. “We see an increase in supply and demand of blankets and hot water bottle covers that are bespoke to brands, adding their signature style as well as saying ‘We’ll help keep you cosy!’
“I recently heard from EP magazine’s hospitality conference and Carrie Wicks (the COO of Firmdale Hotels for 20 years and the founding partner of the soon to open Chateau Denmark hotel) on how they are creating the whole Denmark street to open up as a dining connection experience.”
Bespoke Textiles have now launched a shop of standard products which are leading the way this year. They can change the colour and branding to make it unique to each hospitality venue brands, whether it’s hotels, private members clubs or restaurants. Young Gerald is also running workshops to help brands delve deep into finding more of their authentic style that can be bought to life through their textiles and uniforms.
Ethical choices rule at Studio 104
Studio 104 specialises in bespoke uniform for the world’s finest luxury brands in hospitality and retail, including icons such as the Mandarin Oriental, Gleneagles, Grosvenor House and Fortnum & Mason as well as contemporary greats like Nobu Hotel, Mondrian, Hakkasan and De Beers Jewellers. Heritage is important for all such big names, but it’s not the only theme they are pursuing. “Sustainability is at the centre of our focus when creating new uniforms for our ethically and ecologically conscious clients,” says Jane Porter, founder and CEO of Studio 104. “ With our designated sustainability team, every step of our uniform creation has been meticulously considered in order to achieve a first class sustainable approach, and is constantly refined with the latest initiatives, processes and materials.” Ethical sourcing of fabrics and raw materials is woven into their ethos. Bespoke uniform manufacture with garments made to order ensures zero waste and high quality uniforms will greatly outlast cheaper alternatives, looking good for longer even when worn several times a week and going through the laundry cycle.
The personal touch in uniform rental
For more than 40 years family business Tibard has been providing workwear from their Manchester base, now assisting in uniform design and selling a big range of smart, practical clothing for housekeeping teams and others in hospitality, having started as a specialist supplier and launderer of chef uniforms.
At any one time some 35,000 UK hospitality staff may be busy at work in Tibard clothing, and the company reckons some two million uniforms have been supplied since 1979. But Tibard’s Rick Shonfeld believes it is their workwear rental offering which will attract the attention of many in the next year. “Although this is one of our oldest solutions, we believe the pandemic has made it more relevant now than ever before,” he says. “This is because you can issue a brand-new uniform for an affordable monthly fee rather than a big expense upfront. And with hygiene being at the forefront of people’s minds, having all your team’s clothing laundered to thermal disinfection requirements may be an advantageous additional aspect to your cleanliness credentials.”
It works like this: Tibard manufacture the uniforms of a hotel’s choice and then rent them to the property over a two-year contract, so there’s no initial capital outlay.
Shonfeld continues: “Don’t worry if your team wears branded clothing, we can easily personalise it too for a small one-off charge. But as well as this, part of our rental service is having all garments collected and laundered at one of our nationwide laundry network sites, every week. Our partners launder all uniform items to HSE guidelines and all Tibard supplier garments can be washed at over 60c. And our service doesn’t stop there, any size swaps or minor fixing required are all done free of charge as part of the contract.”