Producing a uniform that satisfies the wish list of everyone involved in the uniform process – from the employees to the procurement team, management to marketing – is always a challenge. But when the wearers are working in different locations – in retail premises, on airlines and in holiday resorts, carrying out different job functions, it becomes even more of a challenge to create a wardrobe that can meet all of their needs.
When Thomas Cook, the second largest leisure travel group in the UK, embarked on a complete redesign of its uniform to be worn by all customerfacing teams, it was looking for something professional and fit for purpose but also fresh and exciting to reflect its brand. A range of modular garments that could be shared across all of its business areas – retail, airline and overseas – while fulfilling each of their specialist requirements, was also imperative.
The Thomas Cook Uniform project team selected Incorporatewear to work with them to provide the uniform to 7,000 retail colleagues, 2,400 cabin crew, and 630 pilots and flight deck members as well as 1,500 overseas representatives as part of a fully managed service for three years. It is a major undertaking, with Thomas Cook receiving 84,000 garments and accessories for the retail team alone. The Thomas Cook project team worked closely with Incorporatewear’s designers to develop the look and feel of the uniform, and involved employees in the process from the outset. Customer-facing teams had input into the design and suitability of garments and took part in extensive wearer trials.
The result – due to be rolled out to retail and airline teams on November 1 and to overseas colleagues next year – is a professional but fun and friendly corporate image, made from high quality performance fabrics for easy-care and comfort. Clare Rayment, Sales Operations Director, at Thomas Cook, said: “Rolling out the new uniform across all business areas is the result of a meticulous process that has involved extensive communication between each business unit in Thomas Cook through focus groups, followed by wearer trials once the designs had been agreed.”
“A selection of people within each business unit was chosen to wear a wardrobe of garments over the course of eight weeks, all providing a detailed response to questionnaires. We took part in extensive discussions with our teams, and an Incorporatewear account manager visited locations in the UK and overseas to obtain feedback and ensure the garments were fitting correctly and no issues were experienced throughout the course of the trial.
“Following wearer trials, minor modifications were made to some of the garments prior to final approval from Thomas Cook. We introduced the new range to teams with a DVD featuring a catwalk show with colleagues modelling the garments. That was received really well, and created a lot of excitement ahead of the rollout.” One of the most significant changes in the new uniform is the use of colour, including the introduction of a lemon colourway, suggested by Thomas Cook employees themselves.
Paula Cannon, Incorporatewear Design and Technical Manager, said: “The use of brand colours – blue and yellow – has been intensified. This creates a distinct identity in line with marketing material and store design. “It helps the customer to identify Thomas Cook employees, giving a seamless visual journey from the moment they book their holiday at the retail store through to the plane journey and throughout their stay in resort.”
At Thomas Cook, there are around 20 distinct job functions with employees working in retail locations, on aircrafts and in hotels, airports, offices and kids’ clubs. Although they don’t require completely different uniforms, some variations are needed that take into account the functions of the roles and the environment that different teams work in.
The result is a range that is split into two looks: the more formal for retail employees, flight deck, cabin crew and airport greet-and-welcome meetings; and the more relaxed ‘on general duties’ look. The shared formal look for female retail teams, cabin crew and Overseas ‘Meet and Greet’ translates into a choice of either a sleek and sophisticated tailored navy shift dress or a print top (gingham yellow and blue for retail) with a choice of tailored skirt/trousers and scarf carrying the brand colours, while the men have tailored navy trousers, a blue shirt, yellow tie and waistcoat. A navy coat has also been designed for the airline cabin crew when travelling between flights.
Meanwhile, fleeces, shorts and trainers with checked shirts for the men and a loose and light sunshine-coloured blouse with knee-length skirt for the women capture the high spirits of holiday time and offer a more casual and relaxed look for the overseas teams. Due to the smaller numbers, flight deck suiting has been manufactured in Europe, allowing for a faster turnaround and less stock holding.
Thomas Cook is also providing made-to-measure garments for all female flight deck members, who have previously had to wear gents’ garments, which has been very well received by the female flight deck community.
In total, there are more than 70 individual garments across the new 2011 range, which has been designed around the particular requirements of each area of the business. There are also bespoke accessories that coordinate with the new range, including handbags, trolley cases, man bags, purses, belts and even personal alarms.
Paula said: “Every item in the range has been exclusively designed in partnership with Thomas Cook and will never be replicated for any other customer. It is a truly exclusively designed range.” A uniform is only as stylish, durable and fit for purpose as the fabric it is made from. To ensure that the new garments for Thomas Cook perform well, and are comfortable and easy to care for, high quality fabrics were introduced within all business units.
Around 75,000 metres of bionic tailoring fabric was used to manufacture the tailored garments in the range. This fabric has stain and crease resistance and nano-technology built in so that any liquids spilt on it will simply run off without leaving it wet or stained. Wicking fabric is being used in polo shirts for employees working in extremely hot conditions, replacing an impractical polyester shirt. That’s just one example of Thomas Cook listening to wearers’ comments and ensuring the practicalities of a uniform are understood.
Paula said: “Our design and technical team worked very hard with Thomas Cook to come up with new and innovative styling and fabric bases that would make the range cutting edge and the attention to every detail was crucial. The result is a range that is professional and co-ordinated. The look is fun, happy and friendly – everything that a holiday company should be.”
Wizz Air employees are preparing for the departure of their old uniforms and welcoming on board a fresh new look by company clothing specialist Incorporatewear. Incorporatewear, co-founded by celebrity designer Jeff Banks and others, has secured a three-year contract to design and supply the European airline’s attire for pilots and flight deck employees. More than 400 pilots will be fitted with the new uniform on an 18-month replenishment cycle. The new corporate wardrobe includes suiting, shirts, ties, knitwear and anoraks. Roll-out will begin from Incorporatewear’s Birmingham offices to 15 Wizz Air European bases this month (November), including the UK, Poland, Hungary, Prague and Budapest, Wizz Air’s headquarters. Kelly Bromley, Incorporatewear’s account manager, said: “We’re extremely excited about this new contract. “Wizz Air is a colourful airline with pinks and purples in its branding, and the new wardrobe design will build on that. The Wizz Air uniform reflects the progress the company is making in the airline industry.” The main uniform will consist of white pilots shirts, navy knitwear and pink ties with navy suiting manufactured using polywool bionic fabric. A super-warm winter coat will also be launched for pilots arriving at colder destinations.
About Incorporatewear (Corporatewear and Corporate Uniform Suppliers)
Incorporatewear has, for more than a decade, been developing inspirational corporate clothing, workwear and uniforms for a host of blue-chip clients. It is a preeminent corporate clothing supplier. Incorporatewear understands corporate clothing: we appreciate the demands of brand imageandservice whilst maintaining a proven track record of delivery. Incorporatewear thrives on designing corporatewear wardrobes and developing wearer management programmes. We are also masters in supply chain management and have applied our specialist knowledge in developing unique logistical solutions to delivers good value and reliable solutions to its clients, exceeding their expectations time after time after time.
Incorporatewear is privately-owned and one of the premier corporatewear and corporate uniform suppliers in the UK. We operate only to the highest ethical and environmental standards. Each and every day we quietly delight many thousands of wearers through the style, fit and practicality of our bespoke garments. Quite simply we offer a flexible, client-centred approach to corporatewear that succeeds in blending wearer satisfaction with commercial common sense. If you’re looking for professional corporatewear and corporate uniform suppliers, call us to see what we can do for you
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