Uniforms can clearly identify employees and make them easy for customers to spot. They also can serve as a marketing tool by expressing a signature look to reinforce the company’s brand.
According to manufacturers, the uniform business has been increasing rapidly in the casino industry, but so has the competition. With so many options, how do casino uniform managers even begin the selection process?
Cynthia Brooks, corporate uniform manager for American Casino & Entertainment Properties says they look for, “dependability, consistent quality, customer service, how they have performed for us and timely delivery. I will check with other properties and see if they have worked with the company. We always look for a company that can provide a good choice in sizing for all body types. It must be able to stand up to commercial laundry process. Our uniforms must look and fit well and be fashion forward. I need to be confident I will be able to get the same product for the life of the uniform program.”
This set of criteria led Brooks to select At Work Uniforms to fulfill all of American Casino & Entertainment Properties uniform needs. As for other gaming properties, the role uniforms play in the casino can really be broken up in three main categories that should be taken into consideration during the selection process: casino branding, employee comfort and the patron experience.
FOR THE CASINO
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
When it comes to a business’ image, taking a gamble is not a wise choice. Uniforms are vital in communicating the company image accurately and positively. The colors and styles selected to brand a business can be among the most effective ways to attract and keep customers. However, casinos have a particularly huge task since the venue variety is so diverse. Being such a competitive industry, the competition for casinos demands forward thinking/trend setting uniforms that set them apart by specifically designing and customizing uniforms for bar and restaurant employees, security, cocktail waitresses, valet along with numerous other positions within the casino. Creating a look for each job function that is practical, yet impressionable, can set the tone for the company’s overall image from the second guests are greeted at the door.
FOR THE EMPLOYEE
“Dress how you want to be addressed.”
Uniforms are valuable to an organization or industry because they identify workers as belonging to a particular property or company, which in turn can foster team spirit. To maintain this sense of comradery, it is important that both the operator and uniform manufacturer be open to feedback from employees in regards to design and comfort and incorporate these suggestions into the uniform selection and maintenance process.
“The industry is following the trend of retail products in style and fit,” Brooks said. “Uniforms have become more fashion friendly. The uniform manufactures seem to be listening to us and giving us better range of sizes, plus, tall and short, which makes my job less of a challenge. I think it will continue to pattern retail.”
FOR THE PATRON
“What you see is what you get.”
Today’s customer expects high standards when it comes to entertainment experiences within a casino environment. For example, dining at a gaming property has become more than just grabbing a bite to eat between pulls of the slot handle or rolls of the dice—patrons now want to be “wowed” by the food, ambience and overall experience of dining at their favorite casino.
“Uniforms are an excellent way to add to the excitement of the evening,” said Elana Gallant, sales manager at Class Act Uniforms. “When the staff is dressed appropriately for the venue of the room, it adds to the overall experience. When the staff is easily recognizable, it’s easier for the customers to identify them. When the staff looks good, they feel good and it shows in their demeanor.”
Below you will find updates on leading manufacturers in the casino uniform industry and some of the latest design trends impacting the uniform business, along with the systems and technology that are making maintenance and tracking easier for operators.
Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Cintas Corporation provides highly specialized services to businesses of all types primarily throughout North America. Cintas designs, manufactures and implements corporate identity uniform programs, and provides entrance mats, restroom cleaning and supplies, tile and carpet cleaning, promotional products, first aid, safety, fire protection products and services.
Cintas recently introduced its 2016 Uniform Book, which has innovative fabric technologies and over 60 new garments.
“As the industry’s most trusted provider of uniforms, we’re constantly looking for ways to bring modern styles and enhanced functionality to our customers,” said Kristin Sharp, director of design and merchandising at Cintas in a recent press release. “This year’s collection is highlighted by exciting updates to our innovative, eco-friendly Regeneration Suiting Collection that help workers feel fresh and more confident throughout the workday.”
The Regeneration Suiting Collection, made from 100 percent recycled polyester, now features the industry’s first anti-bacterial fabric, EcoGir, and Odegon Shields to block odor. EcoGir fabric reduces the number of germs on the garment and prevents the growth of bacteria that create odors. Placed in the arm holes of the Regeneration Suiting Collection, the Odegon Shields trap odor molecules leaving a fresh scent. The line also features updated silhouettes with a modern fit to help employees feel confident and look fashionable.
Among other collection updates, Cintas added MCS Adaptive technology to one of its most popular housekeeping collections. The customer-driven innovation is designed to absorb and move moisture away from the body to cool wearers or keep them warm, depending on environmental conditions. Additionally, to enhance its service to healthcare clients, Cintas has added its full scrub offering to the Uniform Book, including additional silhouettes and colors.
UNIFORMS BY CLASS ACT
The Uniforms by Class Act (Class Act Uniforms) manufacturing facility is located in South Florida. For the past 30 years they have been supplying quality and innovative styles to restaurants, night clubs and sports bars; however, almost half of their business is from the casino industry.
“We have seen the industry take so many directions from the formal going more casual, the casual going to t-shirts and now the turn is toward more polished sophisticated uniforms,” said Gallant. “Our casino line goes from the coffee concession designs all the way through to the VIP casino rooms. The selection is very workable for men and for women.”
“We’ve always been heavily involved in the Indian casinos and became a member of NIGA to be more involve in the needs of the tribes and their ongoing growth,” Gallant added. “Casinos started us on our upscale and cocktail line of uniforms. We work very closely with the wardrobe departments and listen to their specific needs. Since we don’t have any minimums or contracts and our usual turnaround time is seven to 10 business days, they are able to order samples, check the quality and outfit their staff quickly, and all of our fabrics are uniform quality and never require dry cleaning.”
At Class Act Uniforms the cocktail bodices, bolero jackets with dresses, specialty vests and corsets are their best-selling uniforms in the casino industry. “We’ve made corsets a little more stylish with the addition of the back piece under the corset laces so the bare back is not showing,” Gallant said.
Their latest uniform designs use many of the new fabrics with vibrant colors and patterns. “The standard black and white of the past is securely behind us,” Gallant said.
SUPERIOR UNIFORM GROUP
Superior Uniform Group (Superior) was established in 1920 and is one of America’s foremost providers of fine uniforms and image apparel. Headquartered in Seminole, Fla., Superior Uniform Group manages award-winning uniform apparel programs for major corporations nationwide. Leaders in innovative uniform program design, global manufacturing and state-of-the-art distribution, Superior Uniform Group helps companies achieve a more professional appearance and better communicate their brands—particularly those in healthcare, private security, retail, hospitality, transportation and food service industries.
According to the company website, Superior is “FabriConscious” in creating hospitality uniforms, chef apparel, aprons, and other groups eco uniforms made from environmentally friendly fabrics—including Eco Poly and 100 percent organic cotton. Their eco uniforms include: chef coats and pants, waist and bib aprons, knit shirts, organic tees and moisture management polos.
The Poly Eco-Pique is made of recycle plastic water or soda bottles which are sorted, crushed and shredded to create small pure “PET flakes.” The PET flakes are used as a raw material to form the polyester fibers.
Beyond the life of the uniform, once a recycled poly garment is no longer suitable to be part of a uniform it can be repurposed yet again. Retired textiles are shredded to create “shoddy” or fillers in care insulation, roofing felts, loudspeaker cones, panel linings, furniture padding and more.
In a recent press release Superior announced the acquisition of substantially all of the assets of BAMKO, Inc. of Los Angeles, Calif. BAMKO is a full-service merchandise sourcing and promotional products company. With sales offices in the United States, England and Brazil, as well as support offices in China and India, BAMKO is a 24/7 operation with a global reach. Currently serving hundreds of the world’s most successful brands, BAMKO works with its clients to provide a wide range of supply chain solutions, including world-class design, sourcing, production, product development, quality control, testing, logistics, and delivery of goods for clients across the globe.
AT WORK UNIFORMS
At Work Uniforms is a leading full line uniform and corporate apparel distributor offering specialized apparel and promotional goods, representing over 168 manufacturers.
Influenced by popular fashion trends, At Work Uniforms design their uniform lines around the customer’s needs—which are always evolving. Within a selection of comfortable fit and easy to care for garments, the dealer shirts are their fastest growing item in their portfolio.
Sixty percent of the business for At Works Uniforms comes from the gaming industry. “The past two consecutive years we have increased our outside sales managers by 20 percent,” said Joe Benton, corporate sales manager, At Work Uniforms. “This year we have increased our inside support positions by 20 percent as well. At Work Uniforms sales and account managers hold a lot of experienced in the industry. The least experienced among the team has being working with customers in the gaming industry for 10 years.”
The use of wireless electromagnetic fields to transfer data for the purpose of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects, also known as radio-frequency identification (RFID), is inserted into the garments and various inventory control programs to make maintenance and tracking easier for operators. “RFID has changed, and is changing the way our customers inventory issue garments,” Benton said.
Although they aren’t quite there yet, Benton added, “in the future, we would like to offer a garment, where the user could press a button and change the color or even the style.”