Jenni Arksey, founder of Goose Design London’s leading Apparel consultancy, advises why uniform is evolving and how brands can stay abreast of the developments and maintain a strong corporate image.
“There are several stand-out successes I have seen in uniform in the last couple of years, one being Virgin Atlantic designed by Vivienne Westwood. This totally fits the brand. It is glamorous, adventurous and the right balance of classic/ trend so it won’t look dated in 2 years, saving costs of re-development. The fit of the uniform will flatter most body shapes because of the way Westwood cuts her cloth. I am sure that she worked very closely with her suppliers to achieve the look that she wanted for the Virgin team.
Another example is the simplicity of Apple; Blue tee shirt and a simple Lanyard. Again, this fits the brand with the type of consumers they are addressing. They are identifiable on the shop floor and approachable to even the most timid of techno-phobes.
Working with retail giant Argos, we overhauled their image and brought it in sync with their new digital transformation. From the initial illustration stage, to the finished line, Goose followed the structure laid out, welcomed with appraisal and a 400 store roll out.
For Uniform to really work the employees really need to embrace it. The idea behind a good uniform is to identify with the business it’s projecting and also to make the staff feel proud to wear it.”
Here are my four tips to uniform which supports business success;
One of the most important factors when creating a new look is to take into account staff opinion. As simple as this sounds, you would be shocked to learn how often this critical stage gets overlooked. By taking into account thoughts from the workforce, you’ll get them to adopt the concept at a much earlier stage, ensuring a successful transition through to a new image. They are the ones who will be wearing the new designs so direction from them helps highlight points of improvement and what they’re happy to keep.
Familiarise yourself with your Brand DNA
My previous article here explored this topic in depth. To really establish brand identity and tell the story, you need to have an in-depth understanding of your brand as uniforms are a key anchor in projecting this ‘story’ out to consumers.
Think about the various body shapes within the business and design around this and how it works for all. How does this flatter and fit from a size 8 to a 20? This is a big challenge for uniform, as there may need to be a different fit or solution for the larger to the smaller employees.
Previous research with employees have found, quite understandably, that they don’t want to wear a hospital tunic that flares out from the neck down or shirts that ping open after slight activity exposing all to customers. Most of them want to be in touch with trends or at least wear something classic and flattering. All staff want to feel good about what they wear and be proud to work for the company.
When Goose worked with the AA to design their uniform, following in-depth research we got rid of the products that didn’t work or were irrelevant and came up with a layering solution that was the same cost as the original one but was much more functional and wearable. Fewer style options through design solutions mean deeper volumes and better prices. There are ways to achieve better cost and great design through problem solving and an understanding of the Procurement and garment production processes serves to fulfill this.
– Goose Design is an apparel trend and design agency based in central London. Since 2002, Goose has worked with over 60 global brands delivering strategic and creative design concepts, apparel and branding design both menswear and women’s wear. Goose Design collaborates on projects such as trend concepts, lifestyle, sportswear, wearables, license style guides and work wear.