Field Grey collaborated with a whole host of great brands to provide South Place Hotel with a truly remarkable uniform. Providing the shoes for the hotel’s doorman is Grenson, a brand renowned for their authentic, high quality (and truly desirable) footwear.
We stole a few minutes of Grenson Brand Director Joe Hutchings’ time in the beautiful South Place Hotel bar to pick his brains about the project:
Firstly Joe, did you see the doormen outside in their Grenson Stanley brogues?
- Yes! I saw them on the way in, they look fantastic. Doormen are people’s first impression, their first point of reference for the hotel, so it’s great that the Grenson brogues are there too.
What was it that interested you about the South Place Hotel uniform project when Field Grey first approached you with it?
- The opportunity to work with the other brands involved really. Grenson shoes (because they’re shoes) always need a point of reference to really bring them to life – they’ll look entirely different against a pair of D S Dundee to tailored trousers to the way they’ll look against a pair of Edwin jeans.
Grenson are no strangers to collaborations – I know you’ve worked with brands like Barbour in the past – how do you choose which brands you’ll work with?
- We’ve collaborated with quite a few brands, not just Barbour, but also people like Rag & Bone. We’re in the lucky position where we can pick and choose who we work with but it has to be a fit, something new and exciting for us. This South Place Hotel project is actually the first time we’ve worked with a hotel.
Does the local element of the project appeal to the Grenson brand? One of your shops is literally a stone’s throw away from South Place Hotel, as are the stores of your fellow collaborators Edwin jeans and tailors D S Dundee.
- Until today I was actually pretty unaware of just how local everything was. Two of our stores are pretty close by to here, walking distance really. There’s the one on Liverpool Street itself and then there’s another one just a little further on Hanbury Street. It’s great.
Is the South Place doorman the kind of well-dressed gent you usually get popping into the shop?
- We actually get all sorts of customers coming in, and I think that’s part of what’s so great about the shop and the brand. We don’t ostracize people or only want a certain ‘type’ of person to be wearing Grenson shoes. You’ll get a businessman coming in for his black toecap Oxford’s and at the same time have a skinny-jeaned hipster in looking for a pair of tan brogues like the Stanleys.
I saw a picture of Cheryl Cole sporting a pair of Grenson shoes recently..
- Exactly! A broad range of customers. She was wearing a girl version of the ones I have on, the girls’ styles are mini-men’s shoes. Girls kept asking us to make brogues for them, so we did
So what do you think makes the shoes so popular year after year? Brogues are so classic, is classic always in?
- A brogue is a brogue is a brogue. They’re a staple, and they’re authentic and high quality. We’ve got the G-Lab range where you can sort of customise your own brogues; I guess that’s a bit more experimental.
One last question – do you only wear Grenson shoes?
Swoon over Grenson shoes at www.grenson.co.uk
Earlier this month Heathrow Express unveiled its new brand identity complete with new trains, corporate colours and uniforms, the 16 million project has been three years in development HEX was heavily influenced by the airline industry and the new trains come with state of the art technology for travellers who will pay for a premium service to transport them into the heart of London. The interiors designed by Tangerine and brand identity by Designhouse.
The new look trains will roll out on April 26th whilst staff will be seen in the striking new uniforms a combination of olive, grey and mustard suits with purple scarves designed by nouniform in July.
Designing any uniform is challenging there are so many considerations however the real proof will be to see how the designs embed with staff, the new train interiors and the station platforms…
Following on from the success of Mad Men, BBC2 has recently launched ‘Pan Am’, a brand new television drama based on the lives of iconic airline’s pilots and cabin crew. Set in 1960s New York, with an ex-Pan Am stewardess as executive producer and a pilot episode costing $10 million it is sure to make fascinating viewing.
Established in 1927 in Key West, Pan Am was a small airline with a focus on quality, style and reliability. From this simple formula sprouted an astonishing worldwide success. With the airline’s celebrity peaking in the swinging sixties, Pan Am was undoubtedly benefiting from the rise of the ‘jet era’ – but it went beyond that. Pan Am’s shrewd use of design proliferated their glamorous reputation using the very best of mid century modern design. The airline collaborated with recognised fashion designer Edith Head to produce their uniforms and first class passengers were even given a ‘Pan Am bag’, an item that rose to cult status due to the abundance of celebrities and rock stars flying Pan Am. The pilots wings were even filled with gold!
The Pan Am brand denotes a style and sex appeal that is no longer associated with flying. This is perhaps best portrayed in the familiar scene in Catch Me If You Can, in which eight glamorous girls in Pan Am uniforms signify Leonardo Dicaprio’s ‘successful’ new life (pictured below).
The popularity of budget airlines and the infamous ‘cattle class’ is now the norm. With the glamour of flying Pan Am seemingly unattainable to many in current climates, ‘Pan Am’ gives a delicious insight into the most desirable departures in aviation history.
Images @ tv.com, Everything Panam.com, Dreamworks, Financial Times
Bill Dunn men’s style journalist has recently published Uniforms, charting a visual history of the uniform.
‘True to the spirit of a successful modern uniform they engender a sense of belonging and pride, but fall short of bombastic jingoism’
Christopher Breward – Head of Research V&A
Margaret Howell has created new uniforms for the Victoria and Albert museum. Howell, an established name in British fashion has been quietly garnering a loyal following globally. She is particularly renown for heralding in masculine female fashion and utilising timeless fabrics such as cashmere, Melton cloth and wool.
The uniforms that Howell has developed for the V&A are an unqualified success; she was inspired by the character of the building for the colour palette and has used quality fabrics. Resourcing from British companies such as John Smedley and Sunspel. Howells approach to the uniform has meant a sympathetic response to uniform design and a resounding attention to quality.
McDonald’s unveiled its new ‘designer’ uniforms in April. They are expected to roll out over the 1,200 UK stores and 67,000 employees this summer. The uniforms have been designed by couturier Bruce Oldfield.
The uniforms were received with a heavy serving of pastiche from fashion and food journalists alike. It was the combination of McDonald’s efforts to go ‘upper class’ and a ‘Couturier’ designing the outfits that sent them wild. Giles Goren noted in The Times;
‘And anyway I don’t think punters really want to be served by a better-dressed burger flipper’.
Well, Field Grey disagrees, but we would challenge the use of a couturier. Not that Bruce Oldfield cannot rise to the challenge of uniform design, it’s just an unimaginative choice given that the uniforms were meant to have a ‘more premium feel’ so the solution was to dress them as white collar workers might, complete with scarves, suits, blouses and a kick flare hem. One member of staff was noted to say;
‘I feel like a businesswoman in it’
This is no bad thing but we would argue that these styles are at odds on many levels, firstly with the new interiors that have been introduced over the last two years with colourful Arne Jacobson style retro chairs, wooden floors, leather armchairs, chrome and Perspex tables and the olive green exterior. Secondly, does this look fit with the average age of a McDonald’s employee and more importantly the job spec?
We think that McDonald’s staff deserve a well-designed uniform, and we applaud the efforts to motivate a large workforce, however we believe there could still be a sense of Premium achieved with more ergonomic design and product. This premium approach was too literal.