Exploring the Dynamic History Behind Uniforms & High Fashion
niforms are all around us, whether we encounter them on soldiers, school children, doormen, or flight attendants. Uniforms have played a significant role throughout history, and in this blog, Studio 104 explores their unique relationship with high fashion.We will delve into the interplay between uniforms and fashion, examining their social role and the influence they have had on the world of high fashion.
Uniforms have a fascinating duality, seamlessly blending in with their intended purpose while also standing out as symbols of identity and hierarchy. Take, for example, military uniforms, which not only convey a strong sense of national identity and rank but have also influenced high fashion. Features such as gold braiding, metallic buttons, epaulettes, and camouflage patterns, initially designed for functionality, have made their way into the field of high fashion. Throughout history, notable designers like Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons and Yves Saint Laurent have drawn inspiration from military uniforms, incorporating their distinctive elements into their creations.
The trench coat stands as the oldest and most recognizable example of an army garment that has become ubiquitous in the fashion industry. Initially designed by Thomas Burberry in 1879 for its waterproof qualities, it gained popularity during World War I when Britisofficers adopted it. With its rank-displaying epaulettes and gun-concealing chest flap, the trench coat perfectly balanced functionality with style. Today, it has become a fashion icon and a wardrobe staple.
Another example is the Breton striped sailor shirt, which has a rich history spanning 160 years. Originally designed for French sailors, the navy and white pattern served a practical purpose: to aid in the rescue of sailors who fell overboard. The original design featured 21 stripes, symbolizing Napoleon's victories. In 1917 CocoChanel brought the iconic "la marinière" to the fashion world, drawing inspiration from the naval uniforms she encountered during her trips to the French coast. Another notable feature borrowed from navy uniforms is the sailor collar, which became a fixture in day wear as early as the 1880s. Additionally, the T-shirt was introduced by the US Navy during the Spanish-American War in 1898, making it an item that can't be missed by any fashion brand.
School uniforms hold a special significance for wearers, often shaping their attitudes towards dress and identity during childhood and adolescence. Designers have frequently experimented with the signature elements of the school uniform, from blazers top leated skirts. Thom Browne, for example, often combines the school blazer with a traditional grey flannel suit, fusing adolescent, and adult dress codes in a single look. Likewise, a Rudi Gernreich homage to a schoolgirl uniform from 1967 demonstrates that the style became increasingly sexualized during the second half of the twentieth century.
Athletic uniforms are all about colour contrasts, bold stripes, and typography that help convey a sense of power and strength. Athletic jerseys serve to distinguish a team from its competitors and unite its members as a group. However, individual numbers on jerseys also maintain a level of individualism within the team. The bold insignias and markings of athletic jerseys have influenced the logo-driven branding of many luxury fashion labels. Companies like Gucci and Tommy Hilfiger often position their company names or logos in places where a team name, logo, or player number might traditionally appear.
The interplay between uniforms and high fashion reveals a captivating history. Uniforms, whether military, sailor, school, or athletic, serve both functional and symbolic purposes. They have influenced the world of fashion, with designers incorporating their distinctive elements into their creations. From the iconic trench coat to the Breton striped sailor shirt, these garments have become fashion icons, transcending their original intended use. The dynamic relationship between uniforms and high fashion continues to shape the way we perceive and express identity through clothing.
The Studio 104 team are world-leading specialists in creating bespoke uniform for luxury hotels, hotel groups, luxury retail, high-end restaurants, luxury experiences, and corporate clients. We provide a dedicated, high-end service supplying exclusively designed, custom and contemporary uniforms.
Written by Stefanie Tschirky – Senior Designer
Follow us - www.instagram.com/studio104london/