Designing Inclusive Professional Clothing Round Table Completes First Session

PCIAW® would like to thank all the 11 members who registered and attended the Designing Inclusive Professional Uniforms Round Table on 06/06/2024. 

The discussion highlighted the importance of creating uniforms that are truly inclusive for all wearers, creating garments which support and protect their wearers regardless of their gender or bodily differences. Historically unisex designs were based on male bodies and sizes with minor adjustments, but it’s time for designers to realise that one-size-fits-all is not reflective of the realities of inclusive design. 

Moving away from a one-size-fits-all mentality, the group stressed the value of having uniform options that allow employees feel empowered through technologies like stretch and cooling fabrics, while remaining within the style of the uniform colleagues are wearing. 

A major focus was addressing neurodiversity in uniform design, as while 1/7 people have a neurodiverse condition there is almost no attention paid to neurodiversity in uniform design. Helpful adjustments include removing scratchy labels, considering tactile sensory needs, and avoiding overstimulating patterns or embellishments. These adjustments and considerations will help a wide range of workers with ADHD, autism, and other hypersensitivities, creating a comfortable and more inclusive uniform experience for everyone. 

End-user organisations are increasingly expanding their research to learn what conditions they need to be aware of and design for, contacting employee representatives, staff networks, or industry associations to fully understand wearers’ needs. 

Implementing alternative inclusive designs often comes at a higher upfront cost compared to traditional uniform styles. However, members agreed it is often better to manufacture a wider range of sizes, fits, and adaptable options when possible rather than leave workers coping with poor fitting uniforms. Particularly regarding workwear, PPE, and defence equipment, as the risk posed by poorly fitting protection can be – and has been – the difference between life and death. The higher costs of diverse ranges can be offset by increased employee satisfaction and lower staff turnover, and some suppliers make a moral choice to charge the same for all uniform designs in a range to ensure all workplaces can afford to give their staff the clothing they need. 

The PCIAW ® Inclusive Design Roundtable brought to light some of the most pressing areas of improvement needed for truly inclusive design, but there is still a lot of work needed from participants and the wider industry to employ these principles in their brands and businesses. PCIAW® will release a detailed session summary in the coming months, and the association looks forward to inviting participants back for the second meeting on the 19th September 2024. 

PCIAW Uniform Networks Buyer, Trusted member