Here are some steps you need to take to ensure employee acceptance and comfort with the new work clothing:
- Organise garment fittings to make sure that employees are happy with the fit and quality of their new work clothing.
- Provide workwear options that accommodate employees’ more specific needs (i.e., special sizes, religious considerations, etc.).
- Put together a technical working group with sufficient employee representation to make sure that employee opinions are heard.
- Communicate the rollout of new workwear with your employees to help increase their enthusiasm and acceptance.
2. Workwear laws and regulations
Some countries have very specific laws on employee uniforms, particularly where it concerns taxes and employee safety. Make sure to consult these legal requirements before making major decisions on your workwear rebrand.
3. Standard vs. custom-made workwear
Work clothing can either be purchased off-the-shelf or made to order. Their difference mainly lies on convenience and cost:
Between the two options, buying off-the-shelf workwear is easier, faster, and, in some cases, can be cheaper. All you need to do is provide the supplier with logos and simple design instructions. The supplier can then apply these onto readily available garments, usually through embroidery or sealing. This eliminates the long process of selecting and testing garments. Though undoubtedly convenient, this option comes with its own disadvantages. For one, the design selections are limited to whatever suppliers have on hand, which can change due to a myriad of reasons (i.e., discontinued production). There aren’t as many colour, design, and sizing options either, so it may not be possible to accommodate every employee’s needs. But if speed is your top priority, buying off-the-shelf is the best way to go about your clothing rebrand.
Customised workwear is the best way to ensure that your work clothing meets your company’s exact needs. You can opt to have one agency create the uniform design for you and then find a manufacturer to produce the garments or go directly to a manufacturer that has its own design team. Although this can be more expensive than buying off-the-shelf, ordering the uniforms in bulk can significantly lower the cost. In situations where visual identity – not speed – is the primary goal for the workwear rebrand, customised uniforms are often the better option.
4. Garment production and responsible choices
Besides looking into a manufacturer’s production capacity, it is also important to consider their location as it can affect the production process and cost. Majority of work clothing manufacturers are located in Asia, particularly in China, Bangladesh, and India. There are Europe-based garment manufacturers, most of which are in Turkey, Italy, Portugal, and parts of Eastern Europe. Here are some crucial factors to consider when choosing from which region to source your work clothing:
Price: In general, garment production in Asia is significantly lower in cost than their European counterparts (by up to 50%). And though the cost of transportation raises the total cost of having your uniforms manufactured in Asia, it is still substantially lower than workwear made in Europe.
Time: Having uniforms produced in Asia is slower, because the development process (i.e., sharing, assessment and testing of fabrics and samples) takes longer due to the distance. Delivery is also expectedly slower as shipping from Asia can take between two to four months compared to the few days it would have taken to transport the uniforms by land within Europe.
Working Conditions: The global garment production industry has long since been hounded by issues of inhumane/illegal labour practices as well as sustainability issues. Although these are a bigger concern among Asian manufacturers, Europe’s garment industry is not exactly problem-free. Countless initiatives and labelling standards have been created – both from within and outside the garment industry – to assure customers that production practices adhere to ecological and humane labour standards. Though these initiatives do provide assurance, there is still the question of credibility. Which of these standards and labels are most widely accepted or are most credible? What do these labels and initiatives cover? To help provide you with a little more clarity, I’ve compiled an overview of some of the most popular initiatives and labelling standards and the specific issues they cover.