CHICAGO — How important are uniforms to a business or organization? Customers respond more favorably to an employee in image apparel than one who is not, according to the North-American Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors (NAUMD).
In a recent survey by Weintraub Associates, 97% of the public said it believed that image apparel programs make employees easier to recognize, while 70% felt employees looked neater and more professional.
“As businesses seek a competitive edge in an uncertain economy, providing employees with a fresh look can be a cost-effective way to appeal to existing and new customers,” says NAUMD President Richard Lerman, whose association honors the best corporate and image apparel programs annually.
And because employee apparel is so important to the branding of any organization, perish the thought of it being behind the times or—gasp—out of style.
Just as the leading fashion designers unveil their new styles each season, uniform makers are also in tune with the “hot” designs and colors.
Runway-inspired apparel can easily be translated to the workplace and help build brand identity and uniformity, according to Cintas, which designs, manufactures and implements corporate identity uniform programs.
“Fashion makes a statement, and work wear uniform programs are no exception,” says Michelle Dortch, senior apparel designer at Cintas. “We strive to produce comfortable, stylish uniforms that maintain a highly professional look. This way, we can make a positive impression on guests and ensure that staff members feel and look great, which translates to a welcoming work environment.”
The company recently released its 2011 Fall Fashion Trends Forecast for the hospitality sector, detailing emerging trends and providing hoteliers a sense of direction when considering seasonal changes to apparel programs. Here’s what Cintas sees as the top fashion trends this fall:
The desire for staff to look and feel their best while at work has extended to the healthcare segment, according to Scott Delin, national healthcare marketing executive for Superior Uniform Group.
“Many facilities now desire garments that are designed to be not only more stylish, but also durable, commercial laundry-friendly and provide comfort for the wearer,” says Delin. “This includes comfort not just in terms of touch but also in modesty.”
Simple, cost-effective things such as offering customers a long, waffle-knit robe instead of a thin, coarse gown or, worse, a scratchy disposable paper “garment” can evoke the feeling of a luxury hotel, he says. Patients who may be sensitive to cold temperatures need a garment that offers more warmth than a thin fabric or paper.
Ensuring examination gowns and jackets provide the proper coverage is important, too, Delin says. Even the color of the gown or jacket can help ensure a positive patient experience, and facilities are looking for on-trend colors in patient wear, in-cluding unisex jewel tones, modern prints and more.
For those healthcare workers who have the option to not wear the standard hospital-issued scrubs or coats, there are many fashion-forward options available.
One such line of nursing uniforms, Infxous Scrubs, is a trendy, high-quality line of scrub uniforms for nurses and medical workers who want to add style to their career, says creator Melody Merritt, who worked in medicine for several years.
Several styles and colors of both top and bottom scrubs are available from the company. The square-neck lace top and button-up top bring a sense of style for women, while the unisex top and dog tag screen-printed top are perfect for male nurses with keen fashion tastes, the company says. All are made of a water-repellent micro-suede material.
Medelita, a manufacturer of gender-specific lab coats and medical apparel, has introduced a program designed to help doctors, dentists and clinicians display a consistent and professional message for their office or practice.
At the heart of Medelita’s “Office Make-over” program is embroidery service. The company believes that name-and-title embroidery is the finest finishing touch that one can add to a lab coat or scrub set. Custom embroidery offers an artistically rendered and sewn display of the wearer’s office, hospital, or practice logo.
Not only does an apparel program identify staff and professionals to guests or patients, image apparel can extend a company’s brand, increase safety, enhance interior décor and improve employee morale.
A hotel’s front-desk clerk or a medical center’s chief surgeon may not picture themselves as runway models, but the vibrant garments they’re wearing today could be worthy of this month’s cover of Vogue.