New technologies and new teams: Exploring crew uniforms

With luxury yacht crews spending the majority of their days working on board, crew uniforms are often seen as an extension of a yacht and its décor, while also being important for defining hierarchy and maintaining team morale.

With this in mind, Yachting Pages spoke to Helen MacLeod, founder of Sea Design, a crew uniform and yacht clothing supplier in Antibes, about the importance of quality crew uniforms and clothing, and the latest changes in the industry. 

How was Sea Design founded? How did it come about? 

Sea Design was founded in 1989 when I was working on a yacht in Holland. At the time, I was having difficultly in finding uniform suppliers and realised there was a gap in the market. This is now our 26th anniversary year.

How would you describe your business and its services? How has it developed over the years? 

From having a machine to embroider just one item at a time, to our latest machines which embroider 12 items at a time, our business is ever-evolving. Through new technology in hardware to the new technologies employed within fabrics, our client’s demands are ever changing, and so are we.

Each season we review our product range, research fabrics and technology before implementing new product and service improvements. For example, we have a new dynamic showroom team for 2015, mixing a wealth of retail and yachting experience. With such a breadth of experience we feel sure that we satisfy all client demands. 

In your opinion, how has crew uniform and clothing changed and adapted over the years?

When Sea Design first started out, there was really only one polo shirt for men and nothing for ladies. Now we have a vast range to choose from and we often create custom dresses and blouses for the female members of the crew, not forgetting custom items for the men of course. 

Our own range of Sea Design products is ever increasing with new or improved products added regularly. 

Which factors should be considered when commissioning superyacht uniforms and clothing?

The timeline is a huge factor when considering a new custom uniform; fabrics have to be selected, woven and dyed in order for the products to then be manufactured. Each of these steps takes time. If choosing off the shelf items, be sure that the range is something that can be re-ordered for replacements and crew changes, as big brands will often change their colours or styles each season without any notification.

If you have a budget in mind, let us know and we can usually work to that budget to save you time. We have had yachts in the past who have requested high fashion brands, but these simply don’t withstand the punishment a yacht uniform goes through in a season. We highly recommend selecting products that are fit for purpose, our team can help you choose products that will work well on the yacht and keep you looking smart throughout the season. 

What are the current challenges that Sea Design faces in the industry at the moment? 

Sometimes, our greatest challenge is when a yacht is unable to plan in advance and requires a large uniform order in a very short period of time.  Naturally, we do our best to accommodate these orders, but sometimes our own suppliers are unable to meet the demands and that reflects on us. 

Our advice is always to plan ahead, and recognise that mid-season, all of the uniform suppliers are extremely busy and need a little more time to prepare your orders.

What is next for Sea Design? What projects are coming up?

As we take our client confidentiality seriously, we prefer not to name yachts, but we can share a few facts with you.

We work with over 400 yachts in any given season, and in the last three months, we have designed and delivered custom uniforms for the following; a 140m new build in Italy, a 73m new build in Italy and an 84m new owner project in Spain.

We are currently working with a 101m new build in Holland, a 63m new build in Turkey, and a 60m new owner project in Italy, not that size is so important. Our clients range from luxury yachts of 20 metres LOA to the superyachts that are being built today. Each of our clients is equally important, we don’t want any crew without a comfortable well fitting uniform, or a naked crew for that matter! 

To find out more, visit Sea Design.

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