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Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace, one of the five Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), contracted with JSD to design and manufacture a distinctive heritage-look uniform. The Palace briefed us to dress its staff – who annually welcome 999,000+ visitors to King Henry VIII’s favourite residence – to withstand chill winds and draughty corridors and courtyards. The priority was to ensure that staff members are warm at all times. We had previously produced uniforms for Kensington Palace employees and so the HRP group knew the quality and service that we deliver and that JSD has excellent UK manufacturing contacts, another of the group’s prerequisites.

Visitors to this historic location expect staff and volunteers to wear uniforms that reflect the extraordinary heritage of the Palace, clothes that are intrinsically English and in iconic colours. The design solutions had to reflect that.

Hampton Court Palace

The Palace required a wide range of uniform items for its outdoor ‘meet and greet’ staff; those conducting the guided tours; stewards in the historic rooms; and those who run wide-ranging events at the venue.  The key range item was the coat for men and women – the item most photographed item by visitors!

JSD in-house designer, Lisa Cunningham-Sherret, presented designs to the HRP staff focus group. Feedback was that the coat needed to be more fitted and flattering than before.  Previously, staff had felt that they were not identified and did not stand out amongst visitors, they wanted to look and feel differentiated.  There was a requirement for an ergonomic design with waistband features that allow guides to carry two-way radios, plus internal pockets to carry maps, keys and guide books.

“We produced first samples, in a striking red wool melton, with dark blue velvet ribbon trim, and then returned for a second focus group with toiles for staff to try,” remembers Lisa. Our design for bespoke gilt buttons and a specially commissioned crest – based on King Henry VIII’s Tudor Rose – became an important element. The design had to be approved by HM The Queen.

JSD designed the dark green gilet for kitchen staff in a quilted fireproofed fabric, trimmed with velvet and gilt buttons, and with the same Tudor Rose wired crest. Hampton Court Palace also agreed to our suggestion of a neat, long-line waistcoat, in red and black with gold piping, for added warmth,.

Discussions at the staff focus groups also identified the need for a tailored summer coat, with showerproof finish and removable lining, to be worn when the temperatures soar.

“Visitors remark on the smart appearance of the guides and ‘meet and greet’ staff, especially in the winter coat,” says Susanne Malim, MD of JSD. “We have given the staff a uniform that they can be proud of – and a very British look that is in keeping with this historic Royal Palace.”

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