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2007 IMAGE OF THE YEAR: The NAUMD’s Image of the Year Awards

Some of the countrys best-known manufacturers and distributors of corporate apparel were honored recently at an awards banquet sponsored by the Image Apparel Institute, a division of the National Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors (NAUMD). Held in Atlanta during the associations annual convention, the event showcased the winning designs of the 2007 Image of the Year Awards, a program dedicated to recognizing the industrys most outstanding and effective design concepts for corporate America.

It was a big night for Cintas, which took home three awards, as well as Disney, which walked away with two. Brookhurst, All-Bilt and Blade Uniforms each received one Image Award, as did retailers Mag & Sons Clothing and Unitex Direct.

The black-tie event, attended by about 300 industry professionals, was held on April 14 and was hosted by Bob Eubanks, best known for his role on the popular 60s and 70s television show The Newlywed Game.

All of you who serve in the uniform industry are truly in the relationship-building business, said Eubanks during his opening remarks. Your products constitute a critical link between government and corporate America on the one hand, and the broad range of consumers in America. Uniforms are the ultimate communicator of an organizations style and create a solid impression even before the employee has spoken. Uniforms are the unspoken language of an organization.

In past years, the Image of the Year Awards presentation was held in the morning, during the NAUMDs membership breakfast meeting. The addition of Eubanks as master of ceremonies and the switch to an evening timeslot gave the event an element of prestige and professionalism that had been missing and, in the opinion of some, sorely needed.

The new format was the brainchild of Richard Lerman, NAUMD president, who, having taken over the helm of the association a year ago, has vowed to bring relevance and value to association programs. We are delighted to share with you that this program is just one of many exciting new initiatives underway at NAUMD, Lerman told the audience. Your organization is moving forward in many new directions, and I am honored to be part of the transformation which has resulted in the new NAUMD.

John Gunzler, Image Apparel Institute chairman, cited what he referred to as the reinvention of the Image Awards. We recruited a judging panel of top fashion experts, journalists and more and by streamlining the program, we attracted more than double the number of submissions in 2007 that we did in 2006 over 120 programs were submitted, he noted.

A total of 10 corporate apparel programs were honored during the 90-minute, multi-media presentation. Heres a quick look at them and the winning suppliers.

The nations largest and arguably best-known uniform supplier, Cintas, walked away with three Image Awards. Cintas received the honors for its work on Table Mountain Casino, which won the Casinos and Gaming category; Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, which reaped the top prize in the Cruse Line division; and the W Hotels, which was recognized as having the best corporate apparel program in the Hotels category.

Table Mountain Casino, near Fresno, Calif., needed a complete restructuring of its entire uniform program due to its massive cosmetic overhaul and expansion. The old uniform program was no longer appropriate for the improved environment. A new program had to accomplish several key objectives. Because of the propertys remote location, all garments needed to be washable. Consequently, the uniform program had to meet the expectations of the customers, who didnt necessarily feel a kinship with the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas fashion. It couldnt be over the top. Clean and classic was the order.

Cintas used Spectra fabric throughout the property, which gave nice depth, texture and ease of care. Each casino floor position dealers, cage, slots, and Players Club was given a long-sleeve, gender-specific dress shirt with a custom TM (for Table Mountain) button at the top and on the cuffs.

The casinos interior remodel was heavy in natural elements, particularly water in the form of a creek. To match, a brocade was created in the pattern of a pebble stone creek bed. This pattern was re-colored in blues, rusts and reds in order to match with the solid color shirts. Some departments elected to trim their shirt collar or cuffs with the brocade in lieu of a full vest. Beverage servers chose a Trim-X jacket silhouette in blue, trimmed with brocade for accents.

Royal Caribbeans new uniform program is a combination of a classic, nautical-inspired look with the simplicity and elegance of contemporary silhouettes. Cintas selected classic styles with a modern twist styles that could be worn many different ways by changing accessories or shirting options. Space on a cruise ship is a precious commodity, so it was important to limit the number of styles to save on needed uniform storage space. This was achieved by narrowing pants and slacks to a black and navy only.

Within these colors, Cintas offered a front- and back-of-the-house pant and a management/officer grade pant. Efficiencies were also found in the food and beverage areas; the same style shirt is the basis for vests or accessories that can be changed to update the look. The bar uniforms consist of very classic style vests. The day and evening versions are brocades with the formal vest, enhancing their image with an elegant ribbed ottoman fabric. The wait staff in the dining room wear an updated fly-front vest style, hiding buttons and giving a clean, contemporary look. Waiters and assistant waiters share the same silhouettes, but the color changes or trim is added to differentiate the two. Employees in the casinos don brocade vests in same style and pattern but are woven in different colors.

The new program for W Hotels is called Wardrobe, signifying an effort to create an actual wardrobe rather than simply a uniform. Wardrobe is a complete and comprehensive collection of Michael Kors retail apparel and Michael Kors inspired apparel from Cintas. This cutting-edge program will be adopted by all W Hotels in North America.

The client felt strongly about choice knowing that employees who could select aspects of their daily wear would feel more involved and empowered in the work environment. The Cintas program allowed that freedom, while still maintaining a consistent look throughout. There are a wide range of pieces, including T-shirts, blouses, pants, shorts, skirts, dresses, blazers and tank tops for men and women. All pieces are at the discretion of the employee so that he or she may express their unique sense of fashion. A doorman could choose a signature polo, while a female concierge may sport a crochet baby-doll blouse, and welcome agents of both sexes don smart pin-striped suits.

The evenings other big winner, Disney, took home two awards. Disney Florida was recognized in the Restaurants category for its creation of the Port Orleans apparel program. Disney California received kudos in the Theme Parks division for the designs worn by Yamabuki Japanese Restaurant.

Disneys Port Orleans Resort offers guests relaxed southern comfort. Two food courts provide many quick-service meal options in uniquely themed locations. The French Quarter interiors are bright and festive, reminiscent of Mardi Gras. The Cotton Mill is a rustic, wooden replica of a mill. The dual bright and rustic colored fabrics establish festive themes to draw guests into the environment of southern charm.

The challenge was to create costume looks that could be utilized by two distinctly different food court locations, retaining period looks of the late 1800s to early 1900s. This challenge was met by selecting a base costume that was complementary to both areas. Unique focus was given to each area by designing reversible aprons, vests and accessories. When staff is deployed from one location to another, they reverse garment pieces to accommodate the theme.

The look extends to the entire property. Guests are greeted at the front desk by hosts wearing late 1800s to early 1900s period styled attire. Men wear a textured heather gray vest, full-sleeved shirt with thin stripes, slate blue pants and a tie. Women wear a long full skirt of muted teal, puffed-sleeve blouse of a broad plaid fabric in tan, teal and cranberry, offset with a white period collar and cranberry string tie.

The program worn by the Yamabuki Japanese Restaurant gives the property a contemporary Japanese look while respecting authentic Japanese attire. Located in Disneys Paradise Pier Hotel, diners enjoy the celebrated Japanese cuisine offered in this premiere restaurant that is the epitome in traditional and contemporary dishes. Presentation of the food and the garments worn by staff are as lovely as the beautiful Japanese flower for which the restaurant is named.

California-based Brookhurst received the top honor in the Retail Sales category for its implantation of the Mary Kay identity program. No stranger to the Image Awards, the Mary Kay program is again recognized this year.

Mary Kay Inc. is an international direct sales cosmetics firm headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Mary Kay Inc. Independent Sales Directors purchase cosmetics at wholesale from the company and, in turn, sell at retail to their customers and recruit new Independent Beauty Consultants, whom they motivate, educate and coach in an effort to help them achieve their own sales and recruiting goals. An annual event for Mary Kay Independent Sales Directors is the presentation of their newly designed fashion ensemble.

The 2006-2007 program consists of a black wool worsted suit (jacket and skirt) trimmed with black and white caviar tweed piping, an alternate black dress that may be worn with the jacket, plus sweaters, scarves, an alternate print blouse and belts. Jackets are available in two lengths and skirts are available in five lengths, ensuring that every sales director has an option that meets her style. This program offers three different styles of skirts: straight, flippy and ankle length with godet detail.

Each sales directors achievement is recognized through different color sweaters, scarves and Mary Kay Career Path jewelry. The first level of sales director wears a black sweater trimmed with black and white beads around the square neckline and/or a black and white houndstooth patterned scarf. As a sales director builds her business through sales and recruiting, a new color sweater is earned. Senior Sales Directors wear purple sweaters trimmed with tonal beads and/or a black, white and purple scarf. Future Executive Senior Sales Directors wear raspberry sweaters trimmed with tonal beads and/or a black, white and raspberry scarf. Executive Senior Sales Directors wear turquoise sweaters embellished with a cascade of tonal beads and/or a black, white and turquoise scarf. Elite Executive Senior Sales Directors wear lime sweaters embellished with a cascade of tonal beads, and/or a black, white and lime scarf.

Global manufacturer Blade Uniforms received an award in the Entertainment category. The Macon, Ga., manufacturer created the fun and casual attire for employees of the World of Coca-Cola.

The previous World of CocaCola, located at Underground Atlanta, opened in August 1990 to resounding success. It hosted more than 13 million visitors, who marveled at the collection of Coca-Cola artifacts and stories from around the world. Its doors officially closed on April 7, 2007. A lot has changed in the last 17 years. Consumers have changed, marketing has evolved, and a lot of new products have launched. The World of CocaCola is changing and reopening to reflect The CocaCola Company of today.

That change is also reflected in the wardrobe designs created by Blade Uniforms. The hip, trendy outfits underscore the beverage suppliers youthful appeal. From shorts to khakis, polos to T-shirts, aprons to visors, the garments embody a fashion-forward sensibility.

All-Bilt Uniform Fashion, a Berkshire Hathaway company, has been a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of custom and stock uniforms to a variety of industries since 1944. The companys philosophy is to provide clients with the highest quality product and services at competitive prices. Its high standards are underscored by its creation of the Amtrak apparel program, the winner in the Transportation category.

All-Bilts approach to the Amtrak program is decidedly classic. Though traditional, the ensemble is never stuffy. Well-tailored navy outfits with burgundy accents adorn a broad range of service and on-board personnel. Vests, crisp white shirts and the familiar Amtrak hats complete the look for these highly visible employees.

Family owned and operated Mag & Sons Clothing is a full-service dealer that focuses on the career apparel, police, industrial, school and work wear markets. Its submission, the Greenwich, Conn., Ambulance Service, took home the prize in the Healthcare category.

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industry sectors in the country. Nowhere is the language of style more important than in defining the many crucial service roles within a hospital or healthcare institution. The Greenwich Ambulance Service makes that distinction clearly through its variations in uniform. Besides wear for staff workers, the company utilizes an honor guard dress uniform program for all ceremonial functions.

This years final honoree was created by Unitex Direct, a Michigan dealer specializing in uniforms, and career, casual and industrial apparel for business and industry. It was honored for its exemplary work on behalf of Common Ground, a not-for-profit organization with programs in New York City and Connecticut. The award was given in the Service/Industry category.

Common Grounds mission is to solve homelessness. To accomplish this, it moves homeless people from streets and shelters into homes and assists those most vulnerable to homelessness to maintain their housing.

The organization starts by focusing on those who have been homeless the longest and are most urgently in need of help. It moves individuals into its members own homes and connects the customers with the help they need to rebuild their lives, like finding a steady job and getting medical and mental health care.

To assure a safe haven for this population, Common Grounds buildings are staffed by approximately 40 security and maintenance personnel. Taking the unique needs of the end user into consideration, Unitex created an industrial program using Red Kap pants and shirts, San Mar jackets and 5.11 Tactical boots. The employee and building name are embroidered on all shirts.

More information on the Image of the Year Awards and the Image Apparel Institute can be found on the NAUMDs website,


Above story first appeared in MADE TO MEASURE Magazine, Fall & Winter 2007 issue. All rights reserved. Photos appear by special permission.
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