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Working in style: corporate fashion
Feature: 3/11/2007

Style. Everyone wants it, so few of Enlarge Image click hereus actually manage it. For the fashionistas it's a way of life, but it's almost as important for everyone else - and not just when we’re out on the town, but also when we're hard at work.

Matt Palmer, procurement director for corporate clothing company A&D, explained: "People want to go to work feeling good about themselves, and one way to do that is to make their work garments look as good as their casual clothing.

"If people feel like their work clothes are too different from what they wear casually, they will create a resistance to wearing them."

In fact, he said, it can even affect work performance: "If people have a comfortable, well-fitting garment that they feel good in, then they will be more confident and focused at work. Good clothing reflects well on them and they reflect well on the company."

So if trends and comfort are so important, what can you do to make sure your clothing is cool?

Colourful designs
A&D certainly has enough experience to weigh in on the matter; Enlarge Image click herethe company started out supplying into the transport industry, but more recently it has added high profile clients in the hotel and hospitality markets as well as the leisure and retail sectors, including fast food chains such as Pizza Hut.

Matt said: "Traditionally the tie, jacket and trouser combination has been the core of our business and most of our customers take that option for their uniform or corporate wardrobe. We then have to design something that reflects their brand or image.

"We also incorporate their brand palette, whether that's just taking their colours and using it all the way through a range, or just accenting and detailing their chosen colour to bring it in line with their brand as they aren’t as jarring to the eye.

“The use of secondary brand colours is becoming more popular in the development of garment ranges”

Timeless trends
Of course, it's not just about the Enlarge Image click herecompany's style - it's also important to look at wider trends, to ensure that the wearers are as happy with their workwear as they are with their own clothing.

"Our design team spends a lot of time looking at retail trends," said Matt. "This means not only looking forwards, but also looking back at which trends have a long life.

"A range could last for three or four years, so focusing purely on modern trends is not the best way to do it - we look at trends that are stylish and timeless, not the kind of high fashion that goes out after a season."

To do this, the team puts together trend boards for each season, looking at the previous trends to see how they have changed over time and at retail to see where things are heading.

Modern styles
So what are the current trends in the corporate uniforms market? "We've recently seen the translation of the current trend of slim fit tailoring filtering through into our latest ranges," said Matt. "We're certainly putting that into some of the ranges.

"A more casual approach is evident on the suiting side through the relaxation in the cut - we’re seeing narrow lapels and patch pockets on garments that wouldn't be on a suit a couple of years ago.

"In terms of ladieswear, there is a bigger emphasis on knitwear with finer gauges and different cut to trouser styling like bootlegs," he added.

 

Looking at the detail

He continued by saying that one of Enlarge Image click herethe key areas that has become popular of late is attention to detail in garments. "It's an area that's heavily inspired by top end designers," he said. "Adding contrast linings and piping inside a jacket enables us to create exciting key features while keeping the overall cost of the garment within budget.

"Sometimes it's just to add a bit of colour and sometimes it's a way to subtly express the identity of the company, but either way it's still popular and we think that it will be around for a while.

"It's quite a useful example to show how far behind the high street corporatewear is, actually - we've only seen this become big in corporate clothing over the past year or so, but it's been on the high street for about two years."

However, he added that modern corporatewear is much better than it used to be in terms of being up-to-date, claiming that it is now only one year or so behind the high street compared to the five-year lag that it used to have. He also said that the UK is a definite leader when it comes to bridging the gap between corporate wear and retail styling.

Fashionable fabrics
In terms of fabrics, Matt said, Allen Enlarge Image click here& Douglas is not only using poly-wools for suiting, as the increased demand for easy care clothing with a high-street look has caused a shift to poly/viscose and performance polyesters.

"Customers talk to us a lot about clothing that can be washed at home - it's definitely the way forward. We're also concentrating on finishes that make home care easier, such as non-creasing and non-iron shirts," he added.

But what lies in the future? Matt kept tight-lipped, but admitted that the company does not go in for extreme long-term forecasts. "We only look a year ahead," he said.

"As corporatewear has to last a long time, you have to compromise between what is fashionable now and what will fashionable tomorrow, but anything beyond a year is just too far in the future to judge properly."

Author: James Wilkinson
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