What's In: Retail
Taraynn Lloyd, director of marketing for Edwards Garment, Kalamazoo, Mich., mentioned that retail styles dictate image apparel (a.k.a. uniforms). "Edwards looks to retail to assist in determining new styles that will work for image apparel programs," she said. One such style is the button-down shirt. "A basic button-down collar shirt for both men and women … seems to transcend time," she said.
Basing promotional styles like button-downs on retail trends has proved lucrative for Edwards Garment. "Our stretch blouse in 3⁄4 sleeves (pictured right) was one of the first offerings and we've expanded this line due to sales exceeding our expectations," Lloyd explained. The reason the style is so popular is another big "in" for women's uniforms: stretch fabric. "This blouse was the first that offered stretch in the material with the use of Spandex," said Lloyd. "The tailoring with contoured side seams and front and back princess seam darts offers a flattering fit."
What's In: Embroidery
Embroidery on uniforms has recently spiked in popularity. "Edwards has seen an increase in embroidery and emblems as embellishments on garments for this industry," said Lloyd. "Embroidery is an effective way to build the properties brand while tailoring the marketing message," she elaborated.
What's In: Red, Black and Blue
According to Lloyd, popular uniform colors rarely change. "Popular colors continue to be navy, blue, white, black, red, burgundy and French blue," she said. She added that these colors are popular because they often tie into the corporate colors of hotels and restaurant chains. "Image apparel is a natural choice to strengthen the clients marketing message," she said. "Restaurants do this quite well by dressing their servers in a woven shirt that is their corporate color and then adding embroidery to tailor the message for the patrons."
What's Out: Apparel with a Short Lifespan
Lloyd mentioned that the largest market for uniforms is the hotel and restaurant industry. "This market has over 13 million employees with over 50 percent being women," she said. These women need uniforms that will last more than a few wears. "When developing an image apparel program, the client is looking for a style and material fabrication that will hold up," Lloyd stated. "They are looking for something that will maintain color and shape for approximately two years," she added. Flimsy garments that fall apart after a few months, or even one year, are not likely to be reordered.