IMPRESSIONS from a Cross-section


How is uniform designing different from collection designing?

Uniform designing is a numbers game
Uniforms, corporate clothing or institutional wear--is a big business category of the fashion industry. Fibre2Fashion spoke to top designers of the country to understand how the concept of uniform designing is different from normal collection designing.

Uniforms tend to have lower margins but high volumes and are also only produced against confirmed orders and advances. A normal collection has high margins but low volumes, and no guarantee that the piece would sell. There are only pros when it comes to the business of uniform designing except when occasionally an ego is bruised.

These are two completely different mediums of expression. One is about weaving a strong narrative and creating impact on the ramp, by presenting a collection which would appeal to a large audience segment across the world. The other is about interpreting a destination in terms of textiles and fashion, encompassing a wide and varied audience, maintaining a strong balance between aesthetics, functionality and longevity of design and product. 
Also, strict discipline and a level of professionalism are needed to take a project from start to finish and continue working with the same clients year after year. It's very different from creating an haute couture ensemble for a client or showing a new collection at a fashion week. 

Designing ID apparel comparatively requires a lot of discussion and criticism before it is approved, as most designs are met with a lot of negative reactions with somebody or the other not being very pleased. While it's easy to design something that looks good on a model strutting down a ramp, it's more difficult to design something practical that will look good on all ages, sizes and heights that the staff will actually enjoy, be comfortable with, and like wearing 365 days of the year. Proud to say my uniforms have that magic to make the staff look smart and confident. Having said that, this makes designing ID apparel less lucrative compared to a collection for buyers and stores provided they are an outright purchase and not on consignment.

We cannot really compare the two (uniforms vs collections). Our collection comprises each piece-as one of a kind-and hence is exclusive, whereas designing uniforms is the replica of a prototype produced in numbers. There is subjectivity involved while making a collection as it is done on the designer's whims and fancies and the customers they wish to sell it to, while designing uniforms is based on a client's requirements and besides having the sense of pride of designing it, the end piece is seen with objectivity as a product, since it has to meet the company's as well as the staff's satisfaction.

Most companies do not have design aesthetics-not that it stops them from giving their design briefs. Interestingly, the main bosses like to get involved directly in the entire process, which is followed up by their procurement manager. Designing uniforms is a different type of business from designing a collection. Uniform designing is a numbers game, while collections may not be. The key is to design a uniform that the wearer will be happy to wear, is comfortable with, and conveys the company ethos with absolute ease. The market for institutional clothing in India is massive. We have not even made a scratch in that direction yet.

This article was first published in the April 2021 edition of the print magazine.

Published on: 02/06/2021

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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