Going above and beyond the traditional

Simon Ward and Becky Heath hold a sample
Simon Ward and Becky Heath hold a sample

Healthcare uniforms are generally considered boxy, ill-fitting and fairly plain looking, but that is no longer the case. Grahame Gardner has introduced a new dye sublimation-friendly, completely customisable healthcare uniform that rectifies these issues and brings the traditional healthcare uniform bang up to date. P&P editor Melanie Attlesey reports.

As Simon Ward, group sales director at Grahame Gardner, explains, healthcare uniforms have remained quite standard for a number of years now and so in order to reinvigorate the healthcare sector the company’s design team sought to launch a range that would offer something above and beyond the traditional.

The brief

The brief was to design a feminine range of healthcare uniforms that moved away from the ill-fitting scrubs currently worn by healthcare professionals and to create a functional commodity product that staff would be excited to wear. Knowing just how customisable and flexible the technical sportswear fabrics used in the healthcare provider’s sister company GForce Teamwear could be, Grahame Gardner’s design team wondered if there was a way these fabrics could be utilised to create a brand new healthcare range. After many months in the planning, the Advance range was born.

Becky Heath, head of design at Grahame Gardner, explains the initial stage of the design process was very creative. Ideas being bounced around included bright colours, shapes and textures that were a bit unusual. The next stage of the process involved sitting down with the whole team to streamline the range and redevelop the stronger designs to make them suitable for the market.

She continues: “Once we finalised what the designs were we then needed to ensure we picked the right fabric. We looked at lots of different types of technical fabrics, but it was challenging finding one that was comfortable as well as technical and durable. Aura was the perfect fit for Advance as it has all the required qualities, can be washed at 60⁰C and can be sublimated, allowing us to offer a fully customisable uniform.”

The range is available in two product forms. Firstly customers can choose from a cut and sew option, which offers a choice of six styles, 16 colours and trim options or alternatively customers can use the same six core styles and fully customise their own uniform using the dye sublimation process. The uniform is initially being targeted at veterinary and dental practices, but could easily be rolled out into other healthcare environments.

Simon explains: “The 16 colours available in the cut and sew range are colours that fit into the markets that we work in. Vets for example tend to wear mid and dark greens, while dentists tend to wear pastel shades and blues. It was about making sure we covered our main targets.

The six designs L-R: Chloe, Rhea, Ara, Zora, Jade and Abby
The six designs L-R: Chloe, Rhea, Ara, Zora, Jade and Abby

“The dye sublimation option allows businesses that want to play around with their own brand, the option to use their own corporate colours and logo to create a fully bespoke uniform.”

Due to the use of the Aura fabric, the Advance range can be washed by hand or in a washing machine at 60⁰C, and doesn’t need to be ironed. And because the fabric is dye sublimated there is no problem with the print degrading over time, so it will hold the colour and the design really well.

Consideration had to be taken during the design process on how to print onto the different panelled parts, because it could potentially be difficult to match up logos which spread across the different panels. Also during the design process the team had to take into account the placement of zips, the neckline and length of sleeve, as these are important factors when working with patients or animals.

Simon says that the launch of the bespoke Advance range has created a real buzz around Grahame Gardner’s HQ in Leicester. He says: “The sales team is really enjoying telling people about this product. It’s not like telling people about a new colour in a pair of trousers, suddenly we have a completely new innovation that the staff can get their teeth into, as well as the customers.”

Impressive feedback

The list of enquiries is growing by the day and initial orders are now being taken. The feedback the sales team has received from the samples has been impressive. “People love the concept. To be able to have your exact Pantone-referenced colour and logos on a uniform is great for this industry,” Simon adds.

As far as Simon is aware, Grahame Gardner is the first in the industry to offer this kind of bespoke service for healthcare uniforms. He adds: “Certainly, technical polo shirts are widely available for all work sectors, but in terms of offering the flexible option of dye sublimation and trying to carry the brand somewhere else other than the traditional left chest, this is something quite new to the healthcare sector.”

Becky concludes that there are still points in the range that they wish to develop further, such as the introduction of a male version, which is currently in development.

A minimum order is for 10 items, with a lead time of 12 weeks. The design team based in Leicester will work closely with clients to ensure they are happy with the design, before the uniform is brought to life at the company’s factory in Sri Lanka.

The full range will be on display at Printwear & Promotion LIVE! from February 26 to 28 at the NEC in Birmingham.

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