Style and presentation is everything aboard the world’s superyacht fleet, with crew uniform never being far from the critical eye of yacht owners, charter guests and industry professionals as they climb aboard.
Worn day in, day out by the yacht’s crew, uniforms and clothing may also come under attack from the crew themselves, who may take issue with colours, fabrics and fit, placing great pressure on captains, chief stews and uniform suppliers to really get it right.
Yachting Pages spoke with David Ireland, managing director of Deckers Uniforms, a leading crew uniform supplier in the Mediterranean, about the trends and demands experienced within the superyacht industry.
How would you describe Deckers Uniforms as a business? How and why did it all start?
Deckers will be 30 years old this year, and as such, is one of the original uniform suppliers in the Industry. Lucy and I bought the company 10 years ago and have since taken it from a small shop in Santa Catalina, Palma de Mallorca to a global company with multiple showrooms and agents around the world.
What are you seeing as the current trends and developments in the uniform and clothing sector at the moment? How is this changing yacht wear?
So far this year we seem to be seeing a swing back towards the more traditional looks, as well as being asked for products that are natural. It’s too early to say if this will be a trend, but environmental awareness is defiantly on the up within the industry.
One thing that will never change however is the requirement for ‘easy care’ and ‘non-iron’ type products. We also still get requests for huge quantities of technical clothing for regatta wear and a sportier look for the competitive yachts.
What are the biggest challenges that you are currently facing within the sector, and within the superyacht industry as a whole?
Timing is always difficult as uniform tends to get pushed down the priority list. This is often no fault of the boat as it is often the case that a full crew is not employed until as late as possible, or perhaps the boss has not yet decided on the itinerary. As this has always been the case, we have learnt how to adapt so as to keep lead times to a minimum.
Which products are you currently seeing the biggest demand for in your business and why?
Our own line of clothing under the Decker’s label is still the biggest selling for us. This I think is quite simple due to the continuity of our products compared to those of more fashion brands that change their styles regularly making replenishing existing uniform stocks difficult.
Are there any mandatory regulations or requirements that apply to your business?
There are not really any impacting regulations or requirements acting upon the uniforms sector when compared to the restrictions and regulations that affect the yachts of today.
As a multinational company we do have to always keep an eye on the different tax rules that apply in the different countries that we operate in, which is a topic to be discussed, always with our clients at quotation stage. For example, the Spanish tax authorities do not treat commercial vessels receiving goods in Spain in the same way that the French tax authorities do.
How do you see ordering and manufacturing processes improving in the future? Are there any exciting technologies or developments that are making the job easier?
Decker’s has this year implemented new software across all its showrooms to control the whole order, from quotation through to customisation, delivery and beyond.
In the near future, clients will be able to see the status of their order online giving complete transparency of where things are up to. It should also help new crew in so far as they will be able to easily access previous orders when they need to add to or reorder uniforms.
Which common complaints do you receive from crew about their existing uniforms, and how do you work to solve these dissatisfactions in the redesign stages?
“We all look the same!” - It is very hard to keep reinventing a professional image, but now, through the use of computer imaging and storyboards, we are able to work much more closely with the clients during the early design stages to bring in the small details that make the big difference at the same time as keeping a professional yachting look.
Ordering crew clothing and uniforms for warm weather is one thing, but ordering for yachts visiting colder climates is another. What must be considered when ordering uniforms for yachts that travel to cold climates?
Stay dry! This is first and foremost. After that we can get creative and even have some fun as there are lots of smart options for warm weather clothing, including technical base and mid layers, as well as gloves that still enable you to operate iPad screens.
What should be taken into consideration when ordering formal and service clothing for crew?
The boss. We must consider his or her religious background, beliefs or demands. We need to think about having armpits on show, the length of sleeves, the type of shoes - the list really is endless and is a conversation that we must have with each client before making a proposal of suitable options.
What do you enjoy most about your job and why?
I enjoy the industry as a whole. When I decided to come ashore after working as a captain in this industry, I made the mistake of going back to the ‘real world’. After a short period of time I remembered why I left in the first place, and as a result looked for something to reconnect me to the industry - I found Deckers.
For more information, visit Deckers Uniform.