Dame Vivienne Westwood is Britain’s style icon. Unapologetically bold, fierce and forward thinking with her trends - her revolutionary attitude towards fashion and tackling climate and social issues, has globally popularised her as the voice of reason. Her outspoken views on sustainability and unnecessary waste, is our main reasons for naming her as one of our British inspirations.
Nine years ago founder of Bespoke Textiles- Katie Young-Gerald- created an eco friendly raincoat, made from recycled water bottles. At the time there were only two companies in the world making recycled fibre; one in the U.S and one Taiwan. Selling 3,000 raincoats, much has changed since then...
Collaborating with Sir Richard Branson to create the Virgin Atlantic Uniform was AND is a pivotal moment for fashion and hospitality- a topic we're constantly conversing about. The 22 uniform pieces were designed with the environment as the foundation.
Each piece was produced using recycled materials - including a recycled-polyester yarn derived from discarded plastic bottles. Westwood described her process to find material for the uniforms as 'I am always trying to find fabrics that are more friendly to the environment - working with Virgin Atlantic they managed to research into this and find more eco fabrics.’
The suit fabrics have a nano finish which extends their life and enables the clothes to retain their colour and finish for longer. To add to the wow factor, the uniform is developed with closed-loop recycling in mind. Which means, worn uniforms will be reprocessed into fibres to be woven into new clothing by a new technology - that takes worn polyester clothing and turns it back into fibres that can be woven again into new fabrics.
"Fashion - actually let's call it clothing, because most of it isn't fashion - is one of the biggest polluters, it must be with all that landfill. My main focus is quality, rather quantity, and I've been saying to people, 'Buy less, choose well, make it last', Rather than just keep sucking things up.” - Vivienne Westwood
Currently there's 65 lbs of textile waste per person, per year! A total of 11.1m tonnes of fabric waste yearly, which is far too much and something has to change! What needs to be done? Recycle, choose well, invest in quality not quantity and importantly buy less.
As individuals we each have a uniform we wear daily, a form of expression. We feel better, when we look better. We believe and know that staff build better services when they are in uniform that is complementary to their appearance. We bring out a clients personality with the garments we design for them, while maintaining practicality. All our core messaging is similar to Vivienne Westwood and we are proud Brits because of her bold segment to speak out.
When staff know they are easily identifiable via their uniforms, they are more aware of their actions. This is of course an important consideration for all businesses, but particularly businesses where staff are often out and about without colleagues and managers watching over them. Certainly an important factor to bear in mind.
According to marketing professor Victoria Seitz, uniforms can result in employees becoming 'entwined' with their company, which ultimately leads to greater success for the company and increased employee loyalty. She also makes another very important point in that you can't just give you staff a uniform and think that's enough:
"You have to follow up with policies about how the uniform will be worn, such as requiring appropriate belts, shoes, socks, hairstyles and make-up. If your employees don't keep the unifom clean and pressed, or their posture is poor, or they're not making eye contact with the customers, then they'll be killing the opportunity to communicate credibly with the uniforms."
An important factor with any uniform is that it is smart and atractive. An ill-fitting, ugly uniform will certainly not invoke confidence in your staff. On the other hand, a well fitted, quality, stylish uniform can do wonders for your employees self esteem. Perhaps keeping your staff involved in the uniform decisions will ensure you end up with a more desirable, popular and stylish uniform which your staff will take ownership of, thus improving morale, confidence and performance.
This is a massive consideration for any company who wants a more professional look, whether you are a sole trader or large national or international company. Perhaps you need polo shirts bearing your company name, or maybe you're going for a more corporate look? Whatever the style of uniform, if it is easily recognisable as belonging to your company, it is a fantastic way of promoting it, whilst instilling your company's branding into the public conssiousness.
Branding plays a massive role in any business, and, if done properly, will give you the edge over your competitors. Consistent branding which runs through every aspect of your branding, from your website, paperwork, uniforms, vehicles and everything in between will make you instantly recognisable to your customers and potential customers. Your brand is not only reflected in the name and logo on the uniform, but also on the colour itself. Think of two well known airline uniforms. Easyjet is associated with the colour orange, a colour consistently used throughout all aff unifoms. The same is true for Virgin and the colour red.
An obvious one we know but a consideration which is often overlooked. How many times have you been into a shop and not been able to identify who works there? Frustrating isn't it? Similarly, think about how you can stand out at trade shows and exhibitions. If you only have a limited time to make an impression, make it as easy as possible for people to identify you. It could be the difference in making a sale or not.
A study by Nelson and Bowen in 2000 (The Effect of Employee Uniforms on Employee Satisfaction) stated that 'uniforms also clarify service by giving the customers an idea of what type of service to expect'.
Katie Young, Co-Founder of Bespoke Textiles
Whether or not you should insist your staff wear uniforms can be an emotive subject, often met with resistance. So, we thought over the coming weeks, we would provide you with a few good reasons why uniforms can help your business, your brand and your staff.
-It stands to reason that if everyone is wearing the same, a team spirit will develop. Everyone is equal and are part of the same group, and so will start acting as such.
-Providing staff with uniforms prevents wear and tear on their own clothes and/or protects clothes (think aprons and coveralls). They don't need to spend their hard earned money on work wear. If you have ever worked for a big corporate business you will know how competitive the office wear scene is! To keep up with the Jonses men and women are devoting large amounts of their money each year on their own work uniforms. By providing a uniform you are removing this competitive element from the workplace, placing everyone on an even keel whilst encouraging a team environment. And, lets face it, who couldn't use the extra money?
-Of course, there are jobs where the health and safety elements demands a uniform. For instance, anyone working on roads or in other dangerous areas will require hi-vis clothing. There are also many jobs which will require steel cap boots. Kitchen uniforms are also designed with health and safety in mind, as with kids wear.
2016 has been a marvellous, but busy year here at Bespoke Textiles, working hard with established clients and looking forward to blossoming relationships with new clients. We have decided to do a visual round up of our year to show you our 2016 best bits.
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a stylish New Year, from Bespoke Textiles.
Our year in numbers..
We hope you've enjoyed our 2016 best bits round up and we will see you in the New Year!
We hope you've enjoyed our 2016 best bits round up and we will see you in the New Year!
The designs had been finalised, the fabric had been developed, woven & dyed, and the shirts had been, cut fitted and created; it was time for shipping.
22 days after the shirts had left the Hong Kong factory; a whole shipping container of Bespoke Textiles products arrived on the docks of Felixstowe.
A whole shipping container was filled with Bills shirts, filling a whole container with one product is not an easy feat for any dispatching company, so to have a container full to the brim with Bespoke Textiles products and great milestone for the company.
Before distribution, the boxes of product were sent to the warehouse, where they were stacked high on top of each other, Katie the co-director of Bespoke Textiles explains it was ‘quite a moment’ to see all of the hard work finally come together.
The moment that Bespoke Textiles, as well as Bill’s, had been waiting for was finally here, the distribution to all 70 sites around the country. There was a window of just one week to get all of the new uniform to the sites, and take the old ones to Textile Aid - this was to make sure nothing went to waste during the revamp of uniforms.
After a long 9 month journey, the work was done, the shirts were made, shipped and in the sites. The Bill’s staff loved their new uniforms, Katie and Kate the co-directors were over-joyed with the reception the shirts got, showing how their hard work really paid off and how the shirts really translated their manta of ‘service & style’.
Thank you for reading our Journey of a Bill’s shirt 3-part blog, there’s lot more to come from us!
After the initial designs and developments of the Bill's shirts were finalised, and the fabric had started to be woven, we made the trip to China (via Hong Kong), to inspect the first prototypes of the Bill's shirts. Visiting the factory was such an eye opener, as well as a reminder for co-director Katie, of her once home, as Katie explains 'Visiting China means I get to meet with business partners of 15 years, as well as have the incredible opportunities to get 'down and dirty' in the factory and explore the markets. Going to the factories gives us more of a hands on approach to the creation of the product, back in the UK we only get to see the before and the after of the items we have developed.'
The streets of Hong Kong were bustling and vibrant, the food was flavoursome and fantastic and everyone we met was so friendly and open. Visiting the China factory was an unforgettable experience, with the creation of a great product as the result. It was an amazing opportunity to take Kate, our other co-director, who had never been to Hong Kong before, Katie was able to show Kate all of her old favourite haunts in Hong Kong, as well as being introduced to friends and long term business partners.
In China, food is a huge part of creating business; we were treated to a fabulous meal before and after any business was done, since Bespoke Textiles work so closely with the hospitality industry, it was a great way too include two of Bespoke's favourite things, food and fashion!
There was always something to stimulate our senses, and we think the photos do the talking!
Bills Restaurant started off as a tiny fruit and veg stall and has know turned in to the massive restaurant group it is today.
In a three part blog series, the Journey of a Bills shirt, from initial ideas and construction to the finished product will be explored.
Speaking to co-director of Bespoke Textiles, Katie Young, she tells us how the journey of the Bills shirt began.
How did you work with Bills first come around?
Katie: Bills first contacted us after seeing the work we had done for the Soho House Group (Creating aprons and napkins for Pizza East, Chicken Shop and other Soho House Group establishments) and soon put in an enquiry.
What were the very first stages in the journey of a Bills shirt?
Katie: Bills wanted to see some ideas from us, to help them decide what would be the best and most suitable look for the brand. The shirts they had before weren’t great and were uncomfortable for the staff to wear, and they only had men’s shirts, the women had to wear unflattering and stuffy men’s shirts!
We started to experiment with fabrics that used spandex, man made and cotton fibre, to create a shirt that could be breathable, durable and easy to care for.
Bills were really keen on having shirts that represented the brand and its style, shirts that were timeless but with a twist. Bills have classic dishes with a modern twist, and they wanted the uniforms to reflect this.
How did you source and create the Bills shirts fabrics?
Katie: The fabrics for the Bills shirts were sourced in a mixture of a ways; from UK suppliers and factories but also from a family run businesses in China, which I have worked with for over 15 years, we really trust their ethics and values, and we also enjoy working with them. We started off by sourcing fabric in the local markets of Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong and in Shenzhen, China, as it was close the to factory and we wanted to see what was available close by. From swatches of the fabric sourced, a design was built that was individual and exclusive to the client; we honed down the check for the shirt, scaling it down to create a micro check, which gave a slightly more modern feel to a standard gingham check. Bills were quite particular with what colours they wanted for the shirts, charcoal instead of black, off white rather than white, but we were happy to create something that was unique to their brand. Once the colours were complete, a new fabric was created. The final swatches were woven up in a mill close the to china factory.
After we had established and created the initial swatches, we put all of our ideas together on a mood board and presented them to Bills.
In the end Bespoke Textiles were chosen over other Workwear Companies because we were the only ones to come up with something that was fashionable but also kept up with demands of a high performing restaurant uniform.
During Summer 2016, until November 2017, The Hive at Kew Gardens will be open for the public to explore in all its award-winning glory. Designed by UK based artist, Wolfgang Buttress, the hive was created originally for the Milan 2015 Expo, as the centrepiece of the UK Pavilion.
Bills Restaurant has teamed up with Kew Gardens, for the summer, in support of their campaign 'Bring me Sunshine', highlighting the role of bees with a pop up Bills cocktail bar. More information here.
'Bring me Sunshine' t-shirts supplied by Bespoke Textiles.