By Jackie Rosselli
In May, the North-American Association of Uniform Manufacturers & Distributors released the results of the Image of the Year and Best Dressed Public Safety Awards. Sponsored annually, the competitions recognize excellence in uniform wear and design. They also call attention to the important role such apparel plays in brand development, employee morale and the public’s perception of those who each day wear image apparel or public safety uniforms to work.
Ten companies earned top honors in the Image of the Year, while four departments topped the Best Dressed Public Safety list. On the supplier side in the Image contest, Cintas was recognized for the 17th consecutive year, earning five awards, including a “best of the best” nod. Affinity Apparel took home two, and Twin Hill, Orlando Universal, Superior Uniform Group and HPI Direct each earned one.
Dealers ruled the Best Dressed Public Safety Competition, nabbing three of the top four awards. And for the first time, the NAUMD recognized the work of two manufacturers, bestowing special awards for their innovative designs.
Best of the Best: St. Regis Monarch Beach – Cintas
After first being named the best single-property hotel, the St. Regis Monarch walked away with this year’s “Best of the Best” nod.
It’s hard not to agree. The program was inspired by the society, lifestyle and local environment that surrounds this Orange County luxury resort. Breezy and light in its appearance, it perfectly complements the luxurious interiors of this beautiful, newly renovated beachfront property.
The Cintas-designed creations combine a subdued color palette – blues, grey and sand dominate – with retail silhouettes in trimmer, more fitted styles and interesting textural combinations. The way in which garments are constructed contributes to a light, more modern feel; jackets are partially lined to accommodate the warmer climate, and swan backs provide ease of movement.
“Our property is the premier coastal destination for guests with active lifestyles, so we wanted to create a modern yet functional apparel program that projects that image,” says Adam Knight, resort manager of the Monarch Beach Resort.
The dress worn by servers in the lobby lounge provides an example of one of the more interesting outfits in the collection. Decorated with oversized, custom-designed orange butterflies, the dress works seamlessly with other pieces and better communicates the property’s special kinship with the monarch butterfly.
Entertainment Venue: Ordway Center of the Performing Arts – Cintas
If on the hunt for a trendy apparel program, move along; the next big look won’t be found at the Ordway Center of the Performing Arts.
But that doesn’t mean a person won’t be wowed. Classic design, tailored fits and timeless silhouettes abound, all updated with fabrications better suited to a modern work environment courtesy of Cintas.
The overall look is what one would expect: sophisticated outfits colored in black. After all, the venue is home to orchestral performances, not rock concerts. But the challenge for Cintas was to go beyond the expected to create something extraordinary. The solution? Well, it had Cintas seeing red.
Previously, the Ordway uniforms were accented with blue, the color used in the carpeting. But red was the go-to color for marketing materials and was also used in the company logo. Incorporating red accents into the new outfits made perfect sense, so Cintas conducted a wear test during a performance to test its theory. Patrons noticed and enthusiastically approved.
The resultant program incorporates designs for five job functions. This includes doormen, ushers, bartenders, box office attendants and supervisors. The fabric is eco-friendly and uses polyester that is made from recycled water bottles. The overall look is elegant but includes outfits that can be dressed up or dressed down for different occasions. One such example is the doormen’s uniforms.
The refresh was intended to tie in with the Ordway’s 30th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Cintas also designed anniversary pins colored in gold that coordinate nicely with the gold cord edge that trim the red accents.
Healthcare: Comfycozy’s for Chemo – Affinity Apparel
Comfycozy was founded in honor of a young girl, Amanda, who lost her battle with leukemia in 2012. Before she died, Amanda was plotting with her mother to create a new shirt called a Comfycozy for kids with cancer so they wouldn’t have to be embarrassed anymore.
Some background: when a child needs multiple infusions of medications daily, they have a port installed, usually in the chest area. As doctors and nurses check on their port or give medications through it, kids have to keep taking off their shirts. It’s inconvenient, not to mention embarrassing. Amanda’s positive attitude and desire to maintain her modesty and dignity during treatments inspired her family to start the organization. Her love of bright, fun colors inspired the tie-dye designs.
Affinity Apparel brought the project to life with brightly colored garments that feature strategically placed buttons, zippers, pockets and slits that hide the wires, ports and infusion lines used for treatments, while leaving them easily accessible to doctors and nurses without exposing the child’s body. With comfort also a priority, the collection is constructed of soft, 100 percent cotton or 100 percent polyester performance fabrics.
Items in the collection include onesies for infants, short- and long-sleeve t-shirts, dresses, and hoodies for children. Recently, the Comfycozy line has expanded to include adult options, such as 100 percent polyester performance t-shirts and hoodies.
“Being consistently recognized by NAUMD over the years and honored with these awards demonstrates our continued commitment to helping our customers look and feel great when they go to work each day, enhancing their overall image,” says Michael DiMino, CEO of Affinity Apparel. “This year is extra special in that we are able to bring awareness to such a wonderful charity, Comfycozy’s for Chemo, as we help to carry out Amanda’s vision of giving dignity back to children undergoing treatment.”
Hotels, Multiple Locations: Embassy Suites – Cintas
How does an employer designate a uniform and still satisfy a discriminating millennial? Put them in a Cintas uniform of course!
In an industry dominated by the 30-and-under crowd, Embassy Suites’ parent, Hilton, knew it needed a deeper merchandised collection to address the very specific sensibilities of this important market niche.
Comfort, durability and image are the cornerstones of this collection; key identifiers have to do with flowing, softer fabrics and silhouettes. The Embassy Suites wardrobe concept allows for individuality and personal style, giving employees a more natural appearance while still maintaining brand identity. Flexibility rules where multiple merchandising options are left up to the individual wearer and the property, and this program is no exception. What was worn last week or even yesterday may be combined with entirely different garments today.
Like many companies, Hilton is dedicated to offering sustainable solutions. The new suiting collection is made from recycled polyester, wool and Sorona yarns. The latter is a renewable plant-based ingredient which provides a carbon dioxide reduction of 30 percent, making the new garments eco-friendly.
Restaurants: NBC Grill and Brew – Universal Orlando
Sports bars are all the rage these days, and now one is an Image of the Year winner.
But don’t be fooled: this isn’t another sports jersey bar. NBC Sports Grill & Brew is a stylish and sophisticated addition to Universal’s CityWalk.
NBC Sports Grill & Brew introduces a unique sports-focused dining experience unlike anything seen before. Inside, a line of foosball tables invites guests to test their skills while nearly 100 HD screens play a constant stream of sports coverage. Other features include a private dining area for groups and an indoor-outdoor beer garden.
The task before Universal Orlando was to create a program that was trendy while still reinforcing the NBC brand. To achieve this, logos are strategically placed on some garments and left off others. Host/hostess wear has a sporty feel and is logoed with a brand patch seen on NBC sports. Servers are on trend in lightweight plaid outfits, which are worn with denim aprons, while the grill chef sports a logoed and plaid shirt intended to complement the NBC color palette.
Even the kitchen staff received a refresh. Safety concerns dominate for these workers, and as such, grill master chefs now sport a special fire-repellent logo apron and 100 percent cotton plaid shirt to ensure safety. Cooks wear white chef coats that are also 100 percent cotton and modified with black knot buttons for additional style.
Retail: Market 32 by Price Chopper – Superior Uniform Group
Market 32 is the next generation of stores to come out of the Price Chopper family. The name was inspired by the year the family-run company was founded. Their style and culture goals are to “feed the imagination” with a shopping experience like no other.
That philosophy also extends to its uniform program. Designed by Superior Uniform Group, the outfits are functional, comfortable and fashionable, and all are constructed with moisture-wicking and easy-care fabrics.
The branded program includes apparel for managers, floor staff and night crew teammates. For managers, there are three different button-down woven shirts. Floor staff wears custom brown embroidered polos, hats and contrasting lime green half- or full-bib aprons. Night crew is distinguished by custom brown t-shirts embellished with three screen prints. Superior Uniform Group worked closely with the Market 32 marketing team for the artwork used on all screen prints and embroideries.
Safety is a top priority for Market 32, and as such, the program includes a line of steel-toe shoes and overshoes for employees to wear. Depending on the specific job categories, many Market 32 teammates are required to wear one of these options.
Service: Mary Kay – Twin Hill
There’s something about Mary. Not the movie, but rather the latest apparel collection from a familiar IOY participant and winner: Mary Kay.
Remember when cobalt blue was all the rage in the 1980s? Well it’s back, this time with a decidedly more edgy and oh-so-chic flair. Working with Twin Hill, professional fashion designer Rebecca Decker seized inspiration for the vibrant cobalt trend from runways around the world. What made the cut? Brilliant blue patterns served up with elements of black, pewter and silver create an ultramodern mix of uptown and downtown style.
Independent Sales Directors have three jacket choices and two skirts made of bouclé fabric in dazzling cobalt and dramatic black. The sculpted wing collar jacket is hip length with a single-button front closure, cut aways at the front hem, long sleeves with a slit turned-back cuff, front and back princess seams, and bias cut side panels which are fully lined. The edgy zipper jacket is high-hip length and has an asymmetric zip front closure, contrasting trim around the neckline and pockets. In addition it has long sleeves, front and back princess seams, bias cut side panels, and slit turned-back cuffs, and it is fully lined. Finally, the urban chic topper jacket falls mid-thigh, with a single-button front closure jacket that has three-quarter-length sleeves and slit turned-back cuffs. This jacket has front and back princess seams, includes bias cut side panels and is fully lined.
The suiting is created as women’s wear designed for women, by women. A separate pattern for Missy and Women’s sizing ensures a great fit for every size and shape.
Transportation of People: Holland America – Affinity Apparel
Affinity Apparel recently launched a new uniform program for over 10,000 Holland America Crew members representing 14 ships. The uniform collection consists of a variety of tailored, workwear and casual custom designed apparel for Guest Services, Food & Beverage, Housekeeping, Entertainment, Sailor and Concessionaires groups.
The design serves as an extension of the Holland brand, complementing the elegant accommodations on board the ships through outfitting crew members in a modern, non-traditional cruise uniform. This was accomplished through the sophisticated graphite heather and white color palette, highlighted with subtle branding touches such as orange buttons, zippers and tabs. Additional accessories such as orange ties, scarves, belts and caps top off this eye-catching collection.
Since the uniforms are worn in a variety of locations, performance enhancing fabrics were utilized to help regulate crew member body temperatures. Water repellent outerwear and multiple style options such as shorts, pants, short-sleeve shirts, long-sleeve shirts and sweater options are available to satisfy the variety of weather conditions encountered at various destinations. The custom-designed water repellent three-in-one jacket provides the versatility of wearing the liner or outer shell as individual pieces or combined together for additional warmth and protection from the elements.
The Affinity team conducted on-board visits, shadowed crew members and participated in on-site fitting events aboard the ships to ensure employee satisfaction with the look and feel of the new wear.
Transportation of Product: Southeastern Freight Lines – HPI Direct
The Southeastern program is a complete redesign and a true head-to-toe creation. From caps, visors, polos, woven shirts and three-jacket systems, down to shorts, pants, accessories and even socks, just about every element is new.
Southeastern drivers don’t sit behind a desk. Always on the move, their work is labor intensive and deadline driven. They load and unload in all types of weather. Style is a consideration, but comfort, safety and ease of movement are equally important.
As such, HPI Direct designed a custom polo with moisture-wicking fabric to meet all objectives. The shirt is available in both short- and long-sleeved options. The mix-and-match three-jacket system is well suited for various southeastern location climates and is easy for the driver to wear; he or she can quickly put on and take off layers as dictated by weather and job duties.
All tops and outerwear are colored in Southeastern Freight’s signature red with black contrast details, with red and black colorblocking carried across the knits, wovens and outerwear.
Gaming: Greektown Casino – Cintas
Greektown Casino general manager Jason Gregorec understands the value happy employees bring to any organization. Employee satisfaction was responsible, in part, for the uniforms now seen at this Motor City casino.
“Our goal in working with Cintas to design these uniforms was twofold,” he says. “First, we wanted to create a fresh, modern look that our team members and guests would love. But, most importantly, we wanted to engage our team members in the process, gathering feedback from them to ensure they were comfortable and happy with our final selection.”
The result is inviting, fun, exciting, fresh, and a look that is on brand message. There’s wear for dealers, cage operators, slots, bartenders, Rewards Club staff and, of course, cocktail servers. Many outfits are striped using colors found in the carpeting and throughout the property for an overall blended look. Dealers are distinguished by their sharp cobalt-blue outfits; Rewards staff apparel is colored in purple, and bartenders wear black and blue outfits.
Fabrics are lightweight and include stretch, so comfort is a guarantee.
2016 Best Dressed Public Safety Departments; Manufacturers’ Innovations Recognized
Four departments earned best dressed honors this year, and for the first time, the NAUMD singled out a couple of manufacturers for their work in design.
St. Cloud, Minn., Police Department – Keeprs
The 127-member St. Cloud Police Department operates under what Chief William Blair Anderson calls a “Wheel of Integrity.” He explains: “The wheel represents accountability, honesty, humility, respect and transparency, and it is what every member of this community can expect from us.”
The uniform is an outward expression of that philosophy, and by working closely with Keeprs, the SCPD has developed a strong professional public image.
Certain design elements help to underscore department goals. These include the use of service stripes on long-sleeve Class A shirts, along with the use of appropriate brass accents to display rank and position within the agency. Colored in dark blue, this uniform consists of a long-sleeved shirt, tie, pants and uniform cap. Footwear is black.
The department also utilizes a Class B and Class C uniform. The Class B features a synthetic or cotton blend shirt and a synthetic or cotton blend six-pocket cargo-style pant. Class C uniforms use multi-pocketed cargo shorts and pants, black or dark navy blue in color, and a department-approved polo shirt that is dark navy blue for all licensed personnel and Reserve Officers and powder blue for all non-licensed personnel.
Lafourche Parish, La., Sheriff’s Office – Fechheimer
In 2012, the LPSO underwent a long wear test to determine how different uniforms stacked up against the current uniform. After months of testing, officers chose to remain in the current uniform, citing durability, comfort, appearance and overall performance as deciding factors. “We definitely stand out in a crowd,” stated one deputy while another commented, “I love this uniform and the sense of belonging when I put it on.”
The 360 men and women of this southern Louisiana department don a uniform developed by Sheriff Craig Webre in 1992. Medium blue and navy are the colors of choice, selected for their approachable and service-oriented image. All Class A uniforms are detailed with specialized features, including epaulettes which display rank, specialty pins and service ribbons. In addition, officers wear a small gold angel pin affixed to their right shoulder epaulette to signify the sheriff’s wish for each and every employee to remain safe and protected through their daily duties and service.
LPSO offers many specialized services and therefore has diverse uniforms to accommodate each. K-9 deputies serve in dark navy utility BDUs, Water Patrol wear specially marked medium blue polo shirts, and motorcycle deputies sport medium blue shirts with pants, boots and leather jackets.
New Castle County, Del., Division of Police – Red the Uniform Tailor
Dissatisfied with the look and fit of its uniform, New Castle made the switch in 2013 to Red the Uniform Tailor for its uniform needs. The result is unique to the region and a standout in any crowd.
“County brown” and taupe are signature colors, used to underscore the department’s tradition and rich heritage. Officers wear a 75/25 poly/wool blended shirt that is available in long or short sleeves. A 100 percent poly necktie is used with the long-sleeve shirt in the same contrasting color as the trouser, which is made of 55/45 poly/wool blend. A one-and-a-half-inch stripe appears on the pant leg. Campaign hats with coordinating gold adjustable acorns and a brown chin swivel complete the basic look.
Officers assigned to the Mobile Enforcement Team and K-9 Unit wear BDU trousers with black shirts. The shirts are embroidered with the New Castle County badge on the left chest and three-inch gold letters reading “police” across the back.
Shelby Township, Mich., Police Dept. – Nye Uniforms
The Shelby Township Police Department credits its sharp look to the men and women who don the uniform each day. Their input is taken seriously; if someone wants to suggest a new style or piece of equipment, a uniform committee will weigh the pros and cons before passing the suggestion on to the chief for a final decision.
Sixty-two officers proudly don the Shelby Township uniform. Purchased by the department with cleaning paid for by the officer, formal inspections are held twice a year, with spot inspections conducted as needed. Uniforms are colored in dark navy blue and consist of a permanent press shirt, trouser, clip-on tie and a lightweight jacket. A military-style sweater affixed with epaulets can also be worn as needed. Depending on the assignment, officers can wear a Pershing style navy hat with black bill or a baseball styled cap.
Manufacturers’ Innovation Awards:
Tactical Uniform: Mexican National Police – 5.11 Tactical
Kudos to 5.11 for producing a first-rate tactical uniform for police officers south of the border. Worn by the Mexican National Police, this customized uniform is loaded with anti-counterfeiting measures, such as a special security print, micro-engraved strips, security threading and hidden infrared technology.
5.11 Stryke Pant for Pima County, Ariz. – 5.11 Tactical
The latest offering from 5.11 is crafted from Flex-Tac fabric, a specialized proprietary blend of mechanical stretch polyester and cotton engineered to provide extreme durability and performance in the field. A self-adjusting tunnel waistband, articulated knees and a full gusseted crotch offer a snug fit while increasing agility and ensuring full freedom of movement.
Insight Wearable Equipment Solution – VF Imagewear
Keeping up with today’s newest technologies demands an easy, versatile solution. VF Imagewear’s patent-pending wearable technology allows custom placement on uniform shirts. It’s simple, easy and compatible with most uniform styles and brands. Made from 100 percent polyester for both men’s and women’s uniforms, the Insight fits most wearable camera brands and models so departments can manage all their technology with one versatile solution.
Interested in entering the 2017 Best Dressed Public Safety or Image of the Year Awards? Entry materials will be available in the fall. Learn more about either program by visiting the NAUMD website, www.naumd.com, or by emailing Neal Waters, [email protected]