When money (and trousers) are tight
The clocks have sprung forward, and the sun has been shining at last. In London, where Fashionizer is based, there is a buzz of spring in the air. People are out on the streets, and that’s good news for the hotels and restaurants – who can resist a bit of al fresco dining?
The weather is not the only challenge to face the hospitality industry. This week, the National Living Wage was introduced in the UK. A large proportion of the people affected work in hospitality and retail, both areas that we supply uniforms to. That’s a lot of wage increases, and one that is bound to have those businesses collectively tightening their belts.
But there is another pertinent statistic – the rise in the number of vacancies in the hospitality industry. Whilst that might present a welcome opportunity for people looking for promotions or to gain experience, it can create a small headache for hospitality establishments. We have been making uniforms for more than 20 years, and we are seeing signs that people are moving jobs much more frequently (significant rises in some cases) and that has an impact on uniform provision, both in cost and management of the process.
From the moment the order for garments in specific sizes is made to the point the uniforms are delivered, there is an average lead time of around two months. In that time the people who were measured for uniforms at the outset may have left. The new people may be smaller, taller, slimmer, younger… For a uniform designer – and a hotel – this creates something of a moving target.
There are other cultural factors too that come into play when there is frequent staff turnover. We have blogged before about how ethnicity affects choice and fit of garments. In one of our recent projects, a considerable proportion of the staff in a particular department were Italian men. This is important – especially in the trouser department (and not in the way that sounds). Walk down the streets of Milan and skinny, snug trousers are de rigueur. Forcing a stylish Milanese man into a pair of loose-fitting – albeit stylish – pair of pants (see picture on the right) is possibly a crime against fashion in Italy.
Consider then, that as a result of staff turnover the following year, that particular group is replaced by a team of Poles and Germans. Potentially a good 20cm taller and perhaps more solidly built, the tight-fit look could make them look a bit like an overstuffed bratwurst. And nobody wants to see that over breakfast.
Will the NLW further increase staff turnover? Perhaps it will. Our pattern cutters (incidentally on more than the NLW) are on stand-by.