The Challenges of Partnering with a Fashion Designer for your New Uniform
tudio 104 specialises in the creation and launch of high-end uniforms for luxury brands globally, across hospitality, retail and visitor attractions. In the more than ten years that we have been doing this we have come across many client attempts to collaborate with fashion designers. Though we understand the potential public relations uplift working with known designers or fashion houses, this can often end in a short lived uniform or even no uniform at all.
From our long experience below are some of the key challenges that we have found useful for clients considering a fashion designer for their new uniform.
A fashion designer may create an attractive concept but will lack the uniform knowledge required to include special construction techniques, to allow the garments to work harder and withstand harsh environments. We have an array of clever construction techniques that we add to each garment on top of the design aesthetics. After each hotel project we complete, we feed our experience into the next project.
In order for the garments to be of a ‘Corporatewear Standard’ we provide test reports to our clients to show that the fabrics and trims are fit for purpose. A fashion designer is unlikely to have this knowledge and on many occasions we have seen proposals using unsuitable cloths like linen and silk that will not be able to withstand rigorous wear and washing. Studio 104 can create the look of linen but have specialist knowledge sourcing a uniform specific alternative. One of the most common issues the client then faces when using a fashion designer is a high level of garment issues whilst being worn and after laundry, making the garment not suitable for the hospitality environment.
Raw Material Testing
Studio 104 collaborate with a selective group of universally accredited laboratories. We work closely with these labs to ensure every raw material offered to the client will be suitable for the job intended. Corporatewear fabrics require additional testing and have to meet higher requirements than high street and luxury garment retailers.
This fundamental process in the project would likely not feature in a fashion designer’s protocol. Without this though the client will face a high volume of uniform issues from launch.
Copyright and Ownership
If a client is thinking of using a known fashion designer to design the uniform and then a manufacturer to produce the uniform, then who owns the copyright? If the client wishes to reorder, change, refine, evolve designs then who manages this process? You will need to enter into a uniform specific agreement that has all eventualities mapped out. Clients would be left exposed without these levels of agreements in place and are complicated contracts to draw up with the various parties involved.
Project management of a uniform project is a huge undertaking. If a client choses a fashion designer and an independent manufacturer, who supervises the process of developing the products into garments along with the final warehousing, delivery and fitting? The client will need to find extra resource to manage the project, taking necessary attention away from other hotel duties.
“We have seen so many stressed clients trying to communicate with a factory abroad with very limited fashion or garment production knowledge.”
If a fashion designer is chosen with their own manufacturing facilities, your uniform project will be mixed in with their fashion collections, running to a different time schedule. With Studio 104 we will work to a specific time schedule devoted to your needs, not the other way around. Over the years we have worked with clients who have moved away from using a fashion house/designer needing the reassurance and professionalism of uniform experts.
Finally, fashion designers work by season and those that take on high-profile uniform projects at exuberant prices aim to fill in the gaps in between these seasons. During fashion weeks and the time leading up the designer’s attention to the hotel client would diminish whilst they concentrate on their key lines. Uniform projects then become a hinderance to their label and an afterthought.
“A good example is the uniform we produced for the American Bar at the Savoy London. The hotel had commissioned a Savile Row tailor to design and make the range, a year later the garments hadn’t arrived and the project was in no way near completion. Studio 104 stepped in and delivered on time, to budget and have continued to service the rest of the hotel.”
At Studio 104 we only employ designers from a high-end fashion label background, this has been our USP and the reason for our success. We do not recruit uniform specific designers because we are looking for a highly creative talent pool that can work alongside our experienced product developers who apply technical uniform requirements into the designs.
Studio 104 work in the same way as a luxury fashion label/atelier, creating patterns and adjusting toiles on mannequins and real models. Our established manufacturing partners also make for some of the top luxury fashion labels including Victoria Beckham, Vivienne Westwood, Gant, Lacoste, Ralph Lauren, Hackett, Burberry, Aquascutum, and Paul Smith.
Repeat orders from existing clients are an extremely important part of Studio 104’s business and must run like clockwork. If the client were to collaborate with a fashion designer, who would manage the reordering process? This aspect has to be streamlined to ensure the hotel receives new uniform in a timely, efficient and cost-effective way. The garment has to be identical to the original delivery, which calls for a rigorous quality control procedure. When we enter into a client partnership it is not just about the initial launch but how we can manage the hotel operationally for the long term. This takes experience, time, effort, and skill.
The fitting stage is a fundamental part of the process requiring a specialist team, which is a service a fashion designer is not going to be able to provide. The Studio 104 team will arrive on site to fit each person into their new uniform, carry out any alteration pinning required and then instruct a local tailor in how to make the alterations.
When fitting a large team of people with varying body dimensions it takes critical expertise to be able to carry out this process so that we can use your stock wisely and make sure that each person is wearing the correct size. One of the most common reasons for a garment breaking is due to the person not wearing the correct size.
If you have an any questions regarding the use of a fashion house or designer to create your new uniform that this guide doesn’t answer, please do call the team at Studio 104 and and we would be happy to advise.
Written by Jane - Founder & Managing Director
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