Ordering superyacht crew uniforms
Last updated: 24/02/2017
With crew uniforms facing some extreme conditions and extended wear on board, the ordering and replacement of uniform almost becomes a continual task for chief stews and their interior crew.
With lots to consider when ordering new yacht uniforms and restocking the old, Yachting Pages spoke to industry experts to guide new yachties through the process, from design brief to delivery.
Ordering new superyacht uniforms
As can be expected, those clients who know what they want are able to move through the process so much quicker than those that don’t. As a client you will be able to specify the brands, fabrics, colours and styles that you require, so it’s worth considering this before approaching suppliers to ensure accurate and competitive quotations.
Looking at the brief itself in more detail, Helen outlined a step-by-step plan for uniform success. Helen Smallwood of Smallwood's Yachtwear said, “The first step is selecting a style and colour scheme that will match with the yacht’s image and meet the tastes of the owners. You should be able to request a full presentation that enables you to visualise how the crew will look. At this point, it is helpful to establish a budget so that the supplier can offer a selection that will stay within the crew uniform allowance.
“Once the style is decided, fabrics have to be chosen according to the preferences and requirements of the owners and crew, styles confirmed, order quantities established and then the process of confirming availability, delivery time, and continuity begins; accurate quotes are then presented. Upon acceptance of these quotes, the orders are processed.”
What needs to be considered when ordering crew uniforms?
Besides the requirements that are already determined by the size, on-board department and everyday activities of your crewmembers, the season, climate and activities that your yacht partakes in should also be considered when selecting yacht crew uniforms.
Helen explained, “It all starts with the right selection of the fabrics, followed by tests in the worst conditions to guarantee the product integrity after hundreds of uses and washes. Fitting is a science; it changes with the fashion trends and for us is an ongoing priority.”
A good uniform company will be able to identify the best fabrics to be used for each application, without hesitation. For example; 100% wool for a lightweight captain’s suit; a microfibre cloth for leisure shorts; natural fabrics for daytime and heavier fabrics for evening; or a recommendation to select a 97% cotton and 3% elastin blend over 100% cotton for a more comfortable fit.
As well as having a creative eye, your uniform supplier should be experienced in the more practical side of design, helping clients to avoid the common fitting and sizing problems that are experienced in the uniform sector. Ensuring clothing is made ‘true-to-size’ in a range of fabrics is extremely important, especially when hiring a new crewmember. After all, providing them with new workwear should be as simple as asking them which size they require.
Read our article on yacht crew uniforms trends for yachtie tips on choosing a practical and stylish yacht uniform.
Quantity: How much crew uniform to order?
Kylie O’Brien, an ex-chief stewardess and founder of The Stewardess Bible said, “I get asked how much uniform should be ordered a lot. To be honest, it really depends on so many variables; for example, requirements of a 30m sailing yacht will be a lot different to that of a 120m megayacht.”
The primary factors to consider include:
- Is the yacht private or charter?
- How often does the crew typically change?
- How often is the style of uniform changed?
- How much storage is available on board?
For example, less uniform will be needed on board a private yacht where the owners are not on board that often. Especially when crew turnover is minimal.
On her blog, Kylie outlined the typical requirements for a 50m private yacht uniform is updated every few years; the crew changes on average every two years; and the owners are on board a moderate amount of time.
Uniform requirements for a typical charter yacht
- Four polo shirts
- Four shorts, skirts or skorts
- One pullover
- One day shoe
- One night shoe
- Three night shirts
- Two night trousers or skirts
- One spray jacket or waterproof
Uniform requirements for a typical private yacht
- Three t-shirts
- Three shorts, skirts or skorts
- Three trousers
- One shoe
- One gilet
- One fleece
- One spray jacket or waterproof
Kylie advised, “It’s important for the engineers and chefs to have the same uniform as everyone else, as well as their technical uniforms. I would simply lessen the amount of general wear to two pieces and issue them with the specific technical uniform that they require.
“I [also] think it’s important to consider the crew’s living space: If you pack the crew cabins with uniform, then ultimately the uniform will get squashed and pushed around to accommodate personal belongings. In the end you will find that giving crew too many uniform will therefore just make extra work for the stewardesses.”
Stocking and re-stocking: When to order superyacht uniforms
It’s important to allow enough time when planning new crew uniforms, as big brands and suppliers get extremely busy and often run out of stock during the peak season. As with many scenarios, communication is key: Your uniform provider should be able to advise what and when to order during the early stages of the process.
Helen said, “The replacement of uniforms will depend on several factors: If the boat is private or for charter, the prescribed budget, and of course the quality of the uniforms.
“Some owners will wish to change the uniform style annually, others will wish to keep the same uniforms for two seasons or more, which will be the case of most of the charter boats too. During this time some items will be added or changed, but the main part of the uniform program will remain the same. Regarding quantities, it depends on the items, how busy the boat is and the budget.”
Depending on how much work is being done on the uniform, the process can take one week to six months if completely re-designing or bespoke manufacture. Ed Taylor, founder of Taylor Made Designs, advises that lesser-known, lower-value brands often don’t run out of stock as often as the larger, well-known brands, while Helen suggested that discontinued products are the biggest source of frustration within the industry, making replacements and new additions difficult.
It’s helpful to know how many seasons the garments will be offered for before ordering to ensure easy replacements, as well as delivery speed and global distribution strategy of your supplier for dispatching uniforms for new recruits and emergencies.
Prudence Ellis, an ex-yachtie and founder of new uniforms business Anchors & Dove believes QR codes are the way forward when it comes to inventorying and restocking crew uniforms. She said, "Obviously Anchors & Dove is a new entry to the market right now, but when we are more established, I'd eventually love to have an A&D app that was compatible with iPhones and android, where we’d use what is called a QR code on all of our items.
"All the stews would have to do is open the app, scan the QR code every time an item was taken out and it would automatically upload onto A&D's system. That way we’d have eyes on their inventory and would be able to alert them when they are getting low on stock. Once approved, we could then reorder and ship to them. I think this would be so awesome, especially for larger boats who just don’t have the time and too many crew to constantly keep on top of it. In any case, we’ll see how A&D progresses, but with any luck we’ll be launching the app end of next year."