Historic Royal Palaces:
Contemporary fabrics, fit and function married to centuries-old heritage
The UK’s Historic Royal Palaces have been a jSD client since 2011, and they present a ‘brand’ and functional design challenge quite unlike any other. A challenge, moreover, requiring the approval of Her Majesty the Queen no less for certain details.
jSD designs and manufactures uniforms for staff at the Tower of London, Hampton Court and Kensington Palace – venues welcoming millions of visitors every year. Each Palace has been given its own unique look by jSD, combining splendid heritage with the practical and functional demands of modern workwear across a wide range of jobs, including outdoor meet-and-greet, tour guides, stewards and retail/admissions staff plus staff staging all sort of events for visitors.
In these historic settings, staff can be subjected to chill winds in draughty corridors, exposed courtyards and even dungeons, so warmth was a vitally important factor for their well-being. ‘At Hampton Court, for example,’ says jSD Senior Designer Lisa Cunningham-Sherret, ‘a key item in the range was the winter coat for men and women, which staff tell us visitors love to photograph.’
Lisa says that during research, staff made clear ‘they wanted uniforms that not only helped them stand out from visitors better than in the past but that were also more fitted, flattering and functional.’ Research identified the need for a tailored summer as well as winter coat at Hampton Court Palace, which jSD developed with a showerproof finish and removable lining for versatile comfort.
For each of the three unique ranges, the design process began by engaging with the wearers, and they remained closely engaged throughout. This included the creation of toiles for them to try on during later focus groups. The resulting ergonomic designs include some very specific practical features such as a waistband for guides to carry two-way radios as well as internal pockets for maps, keys and guide books.
Like all good designs, much of the final impact comes down to attention to details. For all jackets and waistcoats, jSD developed bespoke gilt buttons and hand-embroidered wire badges of two specially commissioned crests – based on Henry VIII’s Tudor Rose for Hampton Court and a Crown for the Tower. These designs had to be approved by HM The Queen.
‘The dark green gilet we created for Hampton Court kitchen staff,’ says jSD Senior Account Manager Gillian Jones, ‘in many ways sums up this happy Tudor marriage of old and new. The garment is splendidly trimmed with velvet and gilt buttons as well as the wire-embroidered Tudor Rose. But it is made from a modern quilted and fireproofed fabric to ensure the wearer is safe and warm as well as looking great.’
Visitors … expect staff and volunteers to wear uniforms that reflect the extraordinary heritage of the palace, clothes that are intrinsically English and in iconic colours.
HAMPTON COURT PALACE
I believe our network of outstanding UK manufacturers was an important factor in awarding these unique projects to jSD.
SUSANNE MALIM, jSD FOUNDER