[box type=”shadow” ]
The much-awaited spectacle of the evening, the Uniforms, a Corporate Fashion Statement, awed the audience with the latest in hospitality uniforms. Students of Jaypee Institute and the Heritage Institute of Hotel Management walked the ramp in trendy uniforms. Hemant Sagar, the man behind the show, is the award-winning co-founder of Lecoanet Hemant, an apparel design founded in Paris in the 80s, which moved to India 20 years ago to produce ready-to-wear clothing inspired by haute couture techniques. Their corporate uniform collection is worn by employees of numerous hotels and facilities across India, and is much in demand. Speaking to the Clean Indian Journal, Sagar took us through the process of designing such a collection, and how and why it matters to the guest.
What goes into designing a collection for a hotel?
We look at these factors: the standard of the hotel, the vision of the hotel, and the way they want to be perceived – some are very classical and traditional, some are much more contemporary and modern. Some want to treat the client as god, some want to treat the client as a friend who is visiting; all these aspects influence how a uniform is made.
What goes into choosing a fabric for a uniform?
You have to choose a base. We have an in-house laboratory in which we test and try the wearing of the material. If doesn’t survive the first 80 washes, it’s not even considered an option.
After a technical pre-selection, there is a taste selection. Certain textiles cannot be used for uniforms, because it doesn’t go with the corporate image. But there are exceptions: the look of an American tourist in Hawaii can be the look for a lifeguard of a pool. But there’s a way of doing it; it cannot be sloppy.
How do you account for variability in employee measurements?
You have to look at body proportions and individual proportions, but the fact is that the general impression of a uniform is more important than the singular fit for a single person. Let’s face it – turnovers are high, and you don’t have the luxury of making each garment to measure. It would be foolish from a financial point of view too.
So, you go for standard sizes, in which we are very specialised. Say, the most important part of the jacket is the shoulder, which you cannot change. You can change the length and the width, but not this. So we start from those fixed points, and make sure the garment will look good on every person.
At what stage of setting up a hotel does Lecoanet Hemant come in?
We function best when we come in at the starting point, because that’s when you create the image of the hotel. If the hotel asks for renewal of production, it’s nice to do, but not creative work.
Our know-how comes in when the hotel is starting off. It’s best to start looking at uniforms when you are looking at the finishing of the rooms. Ideally, it’s when the interior design is finalised but not executed; that’s when uniform design should come in. That’s when we can make people understand that a certain tone of blue will have a certain impact. Every colour has a psychological effect on the guest. He may feel formal or happy or casual or something else, depending upon what the person who is serving him his wearing.
Over the last 20 years, how has the attitude of hoteliers towards the time and money spent on designing and producing uniforms changed?
Professional understanding has become much higher. Twenty years ago, there was much more ‘jugaad’ in the process. Someone would say, ‘let’s just get it made from a tailor’. Then, they noticed that the tailor was giving them a product that they could wash thrice and then it would shrink, fade or fall apart. And they couldn’t go back to them for service.
In our case, it’s a partnership. A few years ago, we had a client for whom we did a series of 185 T-shirts, and they all got ripped it. Turns out, the quality of cotton we used have been better, it’s true. But it also turned out that in the laundry department, they were adding chemicals to the washing, which attacked the cotton to such a point that it fell apart after five washes. We found a solution, and we are still partners.