By Linda O’Flanagan
Doormen at some of the city’s top apartment buildings are getting the Savile Row treatment with tailor-made togs to rival anything the residents wear.
According to leading uniform designer Jennifer Busch, CEO of I. Buss & Allan Uniform, in a city where first impressions count, the cut, style and color of staff uniforms are at the top of the shopping list at tony buildings.
And when Men’s Wearhouse just won’t do, owners turn to some of the city’s leading designers to create winning looks for building staff.
“If someone looks bad, people notice,” said Busch. “The doorman and concierge are the first impression when people walk into a building, so it’s vital they look good.
“Uniforms can be so much more than just clothes. They can be something no-one notices, or they can be an extension of a company’s brand and an opportunity to promote the building.”
And certainly, some of the city’s most successful owners and developers agree, hiring Busch and companies like hers to help them win a dressing crown.
At the posh River House on the East River waterfront at 52nd Street, management arranges to have each member of the lobby staff measured and then orders their custom uniforms from I. Buss & Allan.
The Art Deco co-op has 35 total staff members, 13 of whom wear the lobby uniform.
The look seems to be working. In the past month alone, four apartments worth more than $30 million have been sold in the prestigious property, according to Streeteasy.com.
Developer Laurie Zucker recently released six newly renovated luxury rentals at the 162-unit Claridge’s at 101 West 55th, where rents range from $2,695 to more than $8,000 a month.
Lobby staff there have worn the same uniform design since the building opened in 1979.
And while the rental offers full “white glove service” the 24-hour doormen don’t actually wear any. What they are rigged out in is what the developer describes as “an homage to the historic Claridge’s Hotel” in London.
The doormen are dressed in the uniforms of the hotel’s past – a hat and tails in black with gold trim with a red waistcoat.
The proper British uniform is made by Apex Uniforms in New York City and, in the summer months, the doorman is allowed to lose the hat.
While the weather is definitely a consideration that goes into the uniform design, Zucker said that the outfit really has to reflect the image of the property and clearly identify the person as an employee.
While the durability of the materials, comfort and wearability are all considerations in the process, too, Manhattan Skyline staff also get a say in what they are going to wear.
Designer Rae Gilson, of Classic Marketing, spoke with all of the employees at RFR-owned 530 Park Avenue before he sat down with Sheldon Werdiger, director of marketing and design development at RFR, to come up with new uniforms for that building.
“The staff is very pleased with the look and wear them proudly,” said Gilson. “Everyone agrees they are very smart uniforms, so we were successful.”
The head of sales for the building, Gilson added, “We wanted the entire staff to look top notch in all seasons, to match the glamour of 530 Park.
“To do that, we had to consider everything from hats, to gloves, to coats and umbrellas. Also the building logo is considered and how it fits on the uniform.
“Now that we have the look established, we may have new suits made with the same tailoring. It’s hard to know what the new condominium board will decide to do when they begin to work with the management company to run the building.”
After ten years of the same design, the 42 staff at the five-building Southgate co-op on East 51st and 52nd Streets between First Avenue and the East River, got new looks this year courtesy of the Board of Directors and management.
Designed by W.H. Christian, a management spokesman said the fabric selected for the dapper duds is typically all weather to negate the need for seasonal uniforms.
A favorite of designer Busch is the concierge uniform at 3 Hanover Square, described as “cutting edge,” with a black, single-breasted jacket, with a bright yellow tie.
Resnick-built 200 Chambers Street doormen wear a six-button jacket in charcoal with a Nehru collar for a “contemporary feel.”
The traditional but standout uniforms for lobby staff working in the venerable portfolio of Schneider & Schneider buildings in New York are also ranked among the classiest.
While every uniform is standard grey with light grey trim, the name of each individual building is embroidered in purple on each suit with the Schneider & Schneider logo on the sleeve and a custom- made tie.
“These are made-to-measure, custom suits that are tailored to fit the building,” said Busch. “But the price points are so much lower.
“It’s great to work with pro-active owners who pay attention to the details. A uniform worn daily can start to look shabby. A change every two or three years show that the owner realizes the critical role that uniforms play in supporting a brand’s image.”