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Great Western Railway

As part of its £7 billion high profile rebrand – the biggest overhaul since the steam age – Great Western Railway commissioned JSD to create a cutting-edge collection of corporate clothing. The brief was for our design team to capture the great 19th century heritage of ‘God’s Wonderful Railway’ within a contemporary uniform that is entirely relevant to today’s rail travel and travellers. GWR want to be seen as a leader, out in front of other Train Operating Companies (TOCs), so we needed to dress their people in ‘feel good’ workwear across every job grade, with 55 product styles in all.

The launch of these new uniforms was an important step in our renaissance of rail, with the biggest investment on the Great Western network in more than a generation.

Managing Director, Great Western Railway

“To secure the contract, we needed to put a spin on heritage. So this is a new uniform, with echoes of yesteryear,” explains Christina Burke, JSD Senior Designer. “GWR showed us nostalgic photographs of the old railway and staff, to convey what travel was like back then. I sensed romance, glamour and style. We also had to work with the new colour identity. The client’s intention was to bring back deep, dark Brunswick (racing) green for both the train livery and the uniforms.”

JSD proposed concepts for garments that won’t date – a classic edge but with a clean finish and quality feel.  A traditional herringbone tweed was the perfect start point for that heritage effect specified in the GWR brief. The colours throughout the collection were minimised to two shades of green with black – a deliberately subtle mis-match of colour repeated throughout the range. Given that keeping employees warm on trains and platforms is essential, our designers recommended a zip-in lining for both the mens’ and ladies’ coats. And for the first time, ladies had a shaped and fitted coat – more feminine and flattering than before.

The presentation of mood boards, concept ideas and samples to the GWR Sales and Marketing team went well. “They loved the way we had interpreted their brand and JSD was awarded the contract,” remembers Ann Dowdeswell, JSD Sales and Marketing Director. “As well as our unique in-house design capability, it was JSD’s flexibility and approach to quality service that won through.”

GWR set up a New Uniform Steering Group of 50 staff – a complete mix of job grades, ages, gender and size.  JSD ran a high profile presentation event to take group members through the design journey and to unveil the uniform, inviting feedback. We also measured them for their workwear.

Some months later, JSD was back with the same group, handing out packs and explaining the wearer trial objectives. This trial coincided with the 2015 relaunch of the GWR identity, where it was vital that key staff should be seen wearing the new uniform. With the trial complete and feedback gathered, JSD presented a statistical report to the GWR marketing team.

Alongside this, JSD worked with the GWR team at Paddington to co-ordinate a sizing road show for all GWR staff in 20+ key points. It was a huge logistical exercise, the greatest client staff engagement we have ever experienced.

For the rollout, we set-up an online ordering facility, with a dedicated customer Helpline team. Because of high staff numbers, GWR appointed uniform co-ordinators in the largest stations to place initial online orders. After the rollout, staff used a dedicated portal for online ordering

When it comes to a uniform re-launch, our customers expect cutting-edge design to be matched by state-of-the-art logistics, backing-up a seamless delivery programme. They want staff to be able to track orders and to re-order and return items easily. JSD has the experience, the staff and the technologies for them to do all that.

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