Hospitality haute couture: The hotels using fashion houses to design staff uniforms

NO Uniform has worked with prestigious hotel brands like Claridge’s, Raffles & Fairmont and Rosewood.
NO Uniform has worked with prestigious hotel brands like Claridge’s, Raffles & Fairmont and Rosewood. Copyright NO Uniform
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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In the luxury hospitality sector, gone are the days of plain shirts and polyester trousers chosen from catalogues.

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At the sleek glass and black marble entrance of Vakko Hotel in Istanbul, two doormen in black tailcoats, peaked caps and cream gloves await guests.

It gives the recently opened hotel an air of timelessness, as though it were one of the grand dames that have been at the top of Europe’s hospitality offerings for centuries.

While travellers are unlikely to pick a hotel based on staff uniforms, they are nevertheless a key part of the guest experience.

As such, hotels are increasingly enlisting fashion designers to transform bland ubiquitous uniforms into memorable outfits that represent their brand, identity and location.

Haute couture uniforms are trending at luxury hotels

In the luxury hospitality sector, gone are the days of plain shirts and polyester trousers chosen from catalogues.

Now, high-end hotels are employing design houses to create bespoke uniforms that are yet another way of brandishing their brand identity.

NO Uniform is one company that has been engaged to design ‘cutting-edge, sustainability-minded’ uniforms for the hospitality industry.

At the Nobu Hotel in London’s Marylebone, the uniforms recall the Japanese heritage of the brand with kimono-style layers and an obi-inspired sash belt.
At the Nobu Hotel in London’s Marylebone, the uniforms recall the Japanese heritage of the brand with kimono-style layers and an obi-inspired sash belt.NO Uniform

Founded in 2002 by British haute couture designer Nicholas Oakwell, the London-based atelier now supplies a collection of high-end hotel brands, private residences, restaurants, bars, clubs and corporate institutions all over the world.

“We consider ourselves ‘silent storytellers’ who transform fabric into narratives,” says Oakwell.

“The era of customisation and personalisation has dawned, empowering consumers to express their unique identities through their clothing.”

Top hats and tails become part of hotel staff uniforms

NO Uniform has worked with prestigious hotel brands like Claridge’s, Raffles & Fairmont and Rosewood.

“Through each hotel collaboration, NO Uniform strives to demonstrate the exceptional stay each guest can expect,” Oakwell adds, “where luxury is not just felt in architecture and amenities but also acknowledged through the impeccable and stylish uniforms worn by the staff.”

Now, high-end hotels are employing design houses to create bespoke uniforms that are yet another way of brandishing their brand identity.
Now, high-end hotels are employing design houses to create bespoke uniforms that are yet another way of brandishing their brand identity.NO Uniform

At Raffles Doha, for example, Oakwell fused traditional Indian patterns with the sleek tailoring (and top hats) of London’s illustrious hotels to represent the city’s multicultural character.

At the Nobu Hotel in London’s Marylebone, the uniforms recall the Japanese heritage of the brand with kimono-style layers and an obi-inspired sash belt.

The uniforms for the Rosewood group, instead, are jazzed-up versions of traditional British tailoring using rich fabrics.

Statement uniforms help lure back hotel guests post-pandemic

Other designers have also been engaged to create haute couture uniforms as high-end hotels have looked to lure back customers post-pandemic.

In 2022, Guillaume Henry, artistic director of Patou, collaborated with Hotel So/Paris on new uniforms.

To ensure guests are in no danger of missing the hotel’s privileged position on the banks of the Seine, he infused the collection with nautical references - striped jumpers, shorts with shiny gold buttons and sailor’s berets with bright red pom poms.

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Staff at The Standard Ibiza now wear breezy, summer-inspired linen shirts and trousers designed by menswear label SMR Days while Brooklyn-based designer Jackson Wiederhoeft drew on Wes Anderson's whimsy for the retro outfits of Nemacolin in Pennsylvania.

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