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Hotel Uniforms-Enabling Savoir Faire

Monday, July 10, 2017, 14:45 Hrs  [IST]

ITC staff uniform designed by Ritu Beri
As a service industry, uniforms have always been an integral part of hospitality landscape and source of identity through its evolution. While hospitality organisations used uniforms to create a distinctive brand identity, a well-designed uniform instills confidence & self esteem in the employees. Today, most of the luxury hotels hire top designers to design uniforms for the hotels. Kathryn B K speaks to few experts from the industry who designs uniforms for hotels to know the significance and the current trends in hotel uniforms.

Why is uniform given so much prominence in hotels? What does uniforms for hotel staff stands for? From the early days of the socalled Inn-keepers, people in the hospitality business have been distinguished with the uniforms they wear. Uniforms are a symbol of prestige and bears a history in this industry. Employees in every hotel are dressed to look good, feel good and confident, as confidence empowers a hotel staff to make every guest interaction memorable.

Uniforms are like the brand ambassadors of an organisation, says Ritu Beri, New Delhi based international fashion designer.

Uniforms have been a part of the hotel industry since the beginning. The uniform that the staff of the hotel wear during their working hours is the identity of the hotel. It makes it easy for the hotel to be identified by the guests.

Devina Diwakar Thapliyal, Executive Housekeeper, JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar says, “Uniforms exude confidence in a work environment. They clearly represent what the brand stands for, the environment that the associates and customers are in. At the JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar you will be welcomed by a crisp looking lady and gentleman at the executive floor of the hotel, their uniform clearly reflecting the upscale, proactive and smooth customer experience they are there to deliver to a business traveller. Uniform brings in them a sense of ownership to the hotel. Uniforms also bridge the large cultural diversity of all the associates in a hotel making the employees one big cohesive team.”

Shilpa Kosambia, Executive Housekeeper, Sofitel Mumbai BKC says, “Wearing a uniform means professionalism, pride and discipline; it requires loyalty and commitment. This is what defines the brand’s identity, differentiating it from others. As the Sofitel brand creates and weaves true bonds with customers, our ambassadors (hotel staff) are the unique link to our guest experience.”

Various studies have gone into the productivity aspect of uniforms in an organisation. A recent study has revealed that a decent uniform make the employees far more confident and professional while communicating with customers. This in turn impacts positively the company’s long term vision and profitability.

Sofitel Mumbai BKC staff uniform

In today’s time, top fashion designers design uniforms for most of the luxury hotels. The significance of uniform in hotels currently is such that, the hotel is ready to go a step further to ensure that they leave no stone unturned to create a first impression on its guests. Parisian fashion designer and couturier, Jean- Louis Scherrer had created uniforms for Sofitel and the designs belong to a long tradition of French elegance which allies sophistication and solemnity.

Beri has created uniform designs for The Imperial, New Delhi; Radisson Blu, Dwarka, New Delhi; Shangrila Hotels, Janpath, New Delhi; Taj, Coorg; Taj, New Delhi; Taj, Lucknow to name a few.

Zubin Mehta, MD & CEO of Uniforms Unlimited, a uniform company for the hospitality industry, explains the reason behind the craze for designer uniforms. He says, “Today every hotel aspires for good quality and finely designed uniforms. Designer uniforms are distinguishable attire and stand out from regular uniforms. Hotels with designer uniforms are talked about. The designer attire speaks volumes for the eye for detail, design element and personal touch of the management or even the owners being involved. A uniform is a garment meticulously constructed by a team of experts so that the final product is not only attractive but also practical, laundry friendly and durable.”

As the word uniform implies the idea to have one consistent look that creates an image for the institution. The look should be unified and it should speak about the philosophy of the company. I believe that uniform of an institution creates the necessary image that is desired to uplift its perception and impact, says Beri.

Various aspects go into deciding the design for a hotel uniform. Uniforms are the face of a hotel; therefore it needs to convey what the hotel stands for. The overall look of the uniform creates the identity and image of the hotel.

JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar staff uniform

Kosambia explicates, “While designing uniforms for every ambassador (staff) at Sofitel, we have considered the essence of pure luxury, the quintessential of good taste and the nature of savoir-faire. The uniform’s fluid textures, strong and modern shapes and classic hues have evoked a timeless sense of style and have empowered everyone to be self-confident.”

The most important characteristic about designing a uniform must be its look and feel. Once that is taken care of, then it is very important to understand what kind of natural conditions would the associate wearing the uniform be in for e.g.: fabric chosen for the door keeper at the main porch of the hotel would be different from the one that would be chosen for a front desk associate at the reception, says Thapliyal. “Uniform samples definitely need to go in for a round of wash process in the laundry before they are incorporated in the system as the wear and tear of the uniform would determine the ordering levels that need to be kept in mind during the budgeting. For a country with a climate like ours a mix of polyester, terry cotton or poly-cotton fabrics work the best. A requisite balance between fashion and functionality lead to designing uniforms right.”

Shangri-la staff uniform by Ritu Beri

Choosing the right look of the uniform for a company involves a researched and technical effort, in order to mirror the accurate global image of the organisation. While designing uniforms for a hotel staff, Beri keeps in mind the comfort, practicality, durability and ease of maintenance, suitability (with regard to individual appearance), appearance and aesthetics (colors, design, styles), climate conditions of the place, image and identity of the property, budget and value for money.

Keeping all these aspects in mind, while designing uniforms for a hotel staff, the designers have to keep a close check on the current trends. Every hotel and every brand tend to follow their own trends in order to stand apart from their competitors. Brand positioning and guidelines play a very important role in defining uniform patterns.

For Sofitel Mumbai BKC, the current trend for uniforms is to keep it simple patterns with sombre colours rather than loud colours, says Kosambia.

Immaculate styling, meticulous cuts, perfect fits, precise stitching with quality fabrics and smart colour board according to the requirement adding exquisite embroidery and screen printing detailing if needed can never go out of trend, says Beri.

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