Are there fashions in hospitality outfits? You can bet your life there are. The ‘bistronomic’ movement towards more informal establishments; the disappearance of physical barriers between the kitchen and the dining area; interchanging roles (chefs who act as waiters and vice versa) and the need to personalise and differentiate a business are having a big influence on working uniforms. These are some of the most ground-breaking trends…
But let’s get to the point. What’s being worn in kitchens, bars, restaurants and cafés these days? Aprons, the most sought-after; denim as the king of fabrics, and avant-garde jackets for the most cutting-edge chefs are leading the trend.
The revolution in aprons
This is undoubtedly the star garment of the moment. Chefs, waiters, baristas and bartenders: all of them are signing up to the apron as a fashion item. And there’s no shortage of reasons for this: easy to put on and take off, instant customisation of any establishment, sending a uniform message with a single garment; comfortable, practical, customisable and attractive. Plus they’re also unisex and have no sizing restrictions, representing cost savings. And of course the apron is the perfect advertising support for conveying the brand’s image.
The manufacturers know this and have jumped on the apron-fever bandwagon with a huge variety of models to suit every taste and budget. However, the aprons that are really blowing everyone away are hand-crafted garments with a retro, industrial or vintage look that send a very powerful image.
The firm Mas Uniformes is offering gorgeous leather aprons with or without bibs, aprons with crossover straps or in asymmetrical shapes that contrast with conventional materials, and jeans/denim aprons in different colours, in 100% cotton, also combined with removable leather straps so they can be washed separately (see The Forene collection by Chaud Devant). Lightweight, top quality and designed to the last millimetre to provide comfort and greater ease of movement. These up-to-the-minute items can be worn all year, like the models in these images:
Aprons are so versatile that there are even specific models for bartenders and baristas, such as the ones launched by Grupo Deleitas in denim and waxed canva with printed linings. They have removable leather straps with carabiners, spacious front pockets and details that bar professionals will love, such as compartments and a chain for a bottle opener, or a belt for hanging cloths. A real treat:
Meanwhile, the much sought-after aprons by Qooqer, made at their tailor shop in Teruel, instantly bring any look bang up to date and give a professional, personalised and very modern image to any restaurant or hotel. They are chosen by the kitchen and front of house teams in many restaurants for their good looks and practicality; for their combination of classic fabrics and high quality materials, and because they can be personalised. Apart from their standard collections, the firm also designs and produces bespoke aprons for every type of business:
Denim: the star fabric
Absolutely up-to-the-minute for its modern, young and casual image, denim or jeans material has made itself strongly felt in all hospitality uniforms and is very much here to stay, though in a much more lightweight and flexible version.
For example, Mas Uniformes has come up with this multi-pocket parka-style jacket with a Mao-style collar and lapel made from high quality stretch denim in a bold design that is easy to combine. It is done up by a concealed central zip. It has two pockets in the upper part and two in the lower part with zip fastenings plus a pocket in the sleeve for a pen and air vents under the sleeves. A perfect example of a garment that combines high fashion with the utmost practicality:
Jobeline the professional uniform brand from Vega, has also gone for denim with its Scott chef’s jacket in a light denim colour with models for both men and women. Available with either long or short sleeves, it is made of 100% cotton and fastens by press studs. It has a pocket for a pen in the sleeve and a belt loop at the neck to support the apron tape, and offers a very fashionable look when teamed with the aprons:
The well-known French firm Bragard, famous for dressing leading chefs ever since in 1976 it created the Grand Chef jacket to the recommendations of Paul Bocuse, also has some avant-garde collections such as the Urban Chef, a line of denim uniforms tailored to the new trends in the restaurant industry. Its modern, innovative designs maintain the firm’s impeccable standards, such as this District chef’s jacket in grey or blue with orange stitching and a Mao collar with automatic fastenings. It has a double pocket on the breast and two more on the back for accessories or a smartphone:
A sports look in the kitchen
For some years now a more sporty, cutting-edge look has been the trend in kitchens, associated with ergonomic designs, smart fabrics and small but important technical details.
An example is the modern J1 Evolution jacket by Jobeline – Vega, for both men and women, which guarantees freedom of movement and regulates the body temperature. Hard-wearing and made from Naturetec stretch fabric with an inner layer of cotton, it repels water and keeps fresh and clean thanks to treatment with silver salts. With ventilation at the armpits and roll-up sleeves, it features details that chefs love such as a pocket for a smartphone, another for a thermometer and a button for attaching wires:
Up-and-coming trends: uniforms with a social conscience
Juan Hinojal JH Selección has for some years now been committed to a radical change in the traditional chef’s jacket, transforming it into a shirt which has led many chefs to change their minds.
Continuing with his successful shirt-jacket trend, which is particularly popular with the more ‘visible’ chefs who come out to the front of house, he has just presented the Yves model (LNC) which swept the board at the Gastronomika congress. Although it looks like a shirt it is actually a chef’s jacket, and might seem to be very slim-fitting, but looks can deceive: the unique cut and the use of the fabric and piqué polo sleeves at the back give the user optimal freedom of movement. It is also an eco-friendly garment, made from sustainable fabric with 55% organic cotton and 45% polyester made from recycled PET bottles. The front, the cuffs and the neck are made from Coolcel, an environmentally-friendly alternative to cotton that keeps the skin fresh and absorbs more than 50% of perspiration. And underneath the buttons are snap fasteners:
Also up-to-the-minute are the military-style jackets from the Urban collection (LNC) which is also distributed by JH Selección. Highly resistant and made from stretch cotton denim, they are produced by Fair Trade and are extremely robust with their metal rivet buttons and belt loops on the shoulders. Though slim-fitting with narrow sleeves, it is both stylish and comfortable because it gives freedom of movement. It is available in blue, white or black in versions for both men and women. Kitchen uniforms that also look great in the front of house:
Up-and-coming trends: uniforms with a social conscience
Take a look at this emerging trend: the use of garments made from sustainable material whose production has a high social impact in the country of origin. An example is the original uniforms by VRO, a pioneering Paraguayan brand that creates unique designs for the hospitality industry in general.
The brand stands out for its use of indigenous fabrics in its models, such as ao po’i, ju lace and ñanduti embroidered lace. After several years of exhaustive tests the company has managed to include them in kitchen wear without any loss of shape or colour, guaranteeing the highest quality. The end result: unique and very special handcrafted models that will delight many chefs with their originality. The image shows a white jacket with a straight neck and white ñanduti and white rubberised trousers:
A few example of how fashion reaches into the kitchen and front of house of restaurants and seduces the most restless professionals who are interested in how they look yet unwilling to relinquish comfort and practicality. What’s the next big thing on the horizon?