How to choose workwear uniforms


Coming up with a plan to kit your employees out with a uniform that reflects and matches your business needs comes with a few considerations.

Here is a quick rundown of the salient points.

1. How sweaty are your crew likely to get?

This is an important factor to consider. Most garments are made from cotton or polyester either 100% of either or a mix of the two. Cotton is considered by many as a more comfortable fabric that is slightly cooler in hot conditions. This is true but polyester has some virtues that are worth considering especially for workwear. If your staff are in air-conditioned sedentary roles then cotton is fine. If your staff are outdoors in inclement weather or they are engaged in active tasks that cause them to perspire then polyester or a garment with a heavy poly mix might be a better solution. Polyester has natural wicking and drying properties that means an active person will perspire but the garment will allow for quicker evaporation, cooling and drying which cotton cannot match. Sports garments are nearly always made of a synthetic like polyester for this reason. It also stands up to more regular and hotter washes which means those filthy jobs where garments are put through a wash rigour can last a bit longer.

2. Do you have freaky non-standard colour schemes with your brand?

When your graphic designer was given a brief to create an awesome logo and branding they got carried away with the Pantone book and had to work late to hit your deadline while fueled on Lambrusco. The result looked amazing when you opened the PDF they sent through the next day but wait!! They decided that they needed to cram 12 colours in your design with loads of gradients and some obscure colours that were all the rage right now. This leads to problems if you want your garments to match those colours and when we have to print or embroider the logo. Garments come in all the basics like Black, White, Navy, Red etc…and there are also lots of off-kilter colours and interesting tones and textures but there is a limit. We have compiled a list of some colours available with Pantone references for some of the main brands. If you want a garment in a colour that does not exist as a standard off the shelf then this can be done but you will need to buy in bulk and wait 8 weeks for them to be manufactured offshore. Our sales staff can provide advice.

3. What decorative process is going to be best for you?

There are 5 options for garment decoration but in all honesty, only 2 are suitable for workwear. Screen printing or embroidery.

Screenprinting is cheaper and works in most instances for images.

Embroidery is a little bit more expensive and only really is viable for small logos. The reason for this is that it takes longer to embroider a design and the number of stitches in your logo determines the price. The bigger the design, the more stitches, the more the cost.

A screenprint is great for t-shirts used for short term / high staff turnover situations such as on a waiter/waitress in an informal restaurant setting.

Embroidery is best for a more prestigious look for smarter shirts or polo shirts or for chef wear and aprons, which needs to stand up to the rigours of repeat washing. Embroidery is almost impossible to wreck during the normal wash and wear cycles but screenprint can be damaged by overwashing or incorrect settings. 

It is not uncommon for us to embroider a logo on the breast of a polo shirt or t-shirt but screen print in the back. This enables a large graphic to go on the back of the garment but avoids the cost that a large embroidery would incur for that back image.

4. What is the objective for this garment?

Are your staff likely to be customer facing or just in general view of the public?

Is there a health and safety element to your purchasing?

In a busy store or restaurant or at a trade show or wherever there is a ‘throng’ of human bodies, your guys need to stand out. Being on hand to provide a service that helps the sale is vital. Printing a big welcoming statement like ‘HERE TO HELP’ on the back of the garment helps customers identify your staff. Using your personnel as walking adverts for your business with your website or phone number or whatever you feel is the most pertinent message on the back of a garment is also an opportunity that should be taken. If you are pushing a particular product at any time then ‘WHY NOT TRY OUR NEW VANILLA COFFEE’, or whatever, is also an opportunity to upsell/cross-sell.

5. What is your staff turnover rate and your growth expectations?

Like all purchases that you will make with your suppliers, the more you buy, the chapter they become. Screen printers and embroiderers work in price breaks so factor this into your t shirt printing order. There are great savings when you hit the 50pcs and 100pcs price break so think about how many t-shirts you are going to get through in the next 6 months before you make your purchase. Remember that it takes about 10 working days for most print suppliers to turn your order around so plan in advance for that opening or promotion or trade s=how you know is coming up.

As always, our staff are on hand to provide assistance.

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