The new uniform has been a real hit with our staff and customers and captures the essence of our brand.”
The fact that JSD implements sustainable ethical and environmental best practice right across our operation was a huge plus in winning the account for Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare in 2012-13. This burgeoning UK beauty brand believes passionately in responsible sourcing and works closely with its providers to improve the environmental impact in everything it does. Liz Earle liked the fit with our JSD ethical focus – we each want to become a sustainable business.
The client’s challenge to JSD was: “Give us a range for our ‘own shop’ and concessions staff which is crisp and fresh, with the look of natural fibres – but staff uniforms that are easy to wear, functional and, above all durable.” For the past several years, Liz Earle had sourced uniforms from the US in natural organic 100% linen, cotton and silk fabrics. Whilst the company loved the initial appearance, their staff reported unacceptable creasing and washability, colours that faded and fabrics that marked badly. Such poor durability and functionality meant a top-up of the range twice a year, and escalating costs.
“My interpretation of the brief was to update the previous look in functional fabrics, create a more brand focused collection and to accentuate the Liz Earle brand colours,” explains Christina Burke, JSD in-house designer. “We went for a defined cut as the more flattering route for all sizes and body shapes. Previously their staff had been wearing a boxy shift dress, plain and simple. Now we wanted to give Liz Earle ladies – across a broad range of ages, shapes and fit – a more contemporary look. The new JSD designs show off the body shape and make the Liz Earle teams proud to be wearing them.”
The new look dress is cut in a way that gives the wearer a shape: it has a defined waistline, with panels through the design that accentuate and lengthen the lines of the body, and an overall effect that is slender and flattering. The tunic for Spa staff (worn with trousers) mirrors this dress shape, with the same defined waist and the introduction of pleats so that the design is not restricting for the wearers, and they can carry out all their Spa duties while looking stylish.
The statement piece in the whole collection is the cardigan – previously there had been both a long and short style – and JSD redesigned this as just one item, relaxed yet chic.
Liz Earle has built strong brand recognition around their primary house colour – a sharp cool aqua – right from launch date back in 1995. “The client gave us the brand guidelines for the Liz Earle blue but wanted us to play with the shades a little,” confirms Christina Burke. “We wanted to offer a new direction on the house colour and so we conducted four different lab dips – and ultimately they opted for one tone darker than the brand Liz Earle blue for almost all of the uniform pieces.” Complementing that is the secondary palette cobalt blue – rather than the previous flat navy on the imported US ‘off the peg’ uniforms – which sets off the cool aqua and gives it a fresher, appealing effect. The tunic and trousers for Spa staff is replicated in white.
“Working with one of our most reliable mills, we produced a linen look fabric for the majority of the uniform pieces,” says Ann Dowdeswell, JSD Director of Sales. “It has the look and feel of pure linen without all the disadvantages. You can throw it into the wash and it requires minimal ironing. The emphasis was very much on comfort and on easy-care practicality for the Liz Earle staff. Alongside this, we specified a 50% wool/50% acrylic mix for the cardigan jacket.” The cardigan and trimmings were dyed one shade darker than the Liz Earle blue and for the buttons – where, again, Liz Earle asked for a natural look – JSD specified a pearlescent shell look, dyed in the darker tone to match the cardigan.
JSD handled production of the uniforms in ladies’ sizes 6 to 28, with a made to order service outside that range. Distribution has now been taken in-house to JSD, where previously Liz Earle had managed it from the Isle of Wight head office. “We offer them a fully managed service,” explains JSD Account Manager, Vanessa Robertson, who has provided ongoing support to Liz Earle at every step of the contract. “Wearer forms are completed by the Liz Earle staff and emailed back: we then put out orders for distribution; JSD also handles the sizing issues and swaps, all from our warehouse.”
The range is ongoing: most recent additions include a maternity top in a sort jersey fabric and a man’s shirt. Liz Earle is growing exponentially – 150 wearers will be added in 2015 – and JSD is proud to be working alongside the brand, whenever they need our input. And because the skincare leader believes in refreshing its uniform regularly, JSD is already starting the process of range development, to get ahead of the game!