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The End of Uniformity

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Just 10 years ago a crew member would probably be found wearing one of the uniforms pictured below. The concept was simple: The crew needed to look presentable and portray a formally stylish image in a standardized manner, within a limited range of choice: skirts or trousers; tie or bow tie; black, navy or white.  

Some consideration was given to comfort, quality and longevity, but it wasn’t within the crew’s power to bring their ideas of fashion into the equation. The fit mattered, but not how uniforms matched the yacht or the personality of the crew. How much simpler the task must have been to kit out the crew in those days... but how much less interesting! Fortunately, as the industry evolves, suppliers are pushing the boundaries, with fashion and personalization now being almost as important as functionality in crew clothing.

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The layman’s definition of ‘uniform’describes: oneness, uniformity, equivalence, consistency and standardization. When it comes to crew uniforms, this may have applied in the past, but success today is based on quite the opposite. Uniformity is dead.

Superyachts are now concerned with customization and personalization, involving creativity and personality as well as functionality and appropriate appearance. Clothes make a statement, they are a form of expression - and crew members as well as owners are increasingly keen to keen to assert their individuality.

personalization montage 200Uniform suppliers therefore need to adapt their attitude towards clients to be similar to that of their clients' attitude towards their onboard guests. A willingness to find a solution is key. But at the same time, unofrms still need to be of high quality; be easy to care for and iron; be wrinkle resistant; be comfortable; be liked by the girls AND boys AND the owner; suit a variety of body types… The list goes on and, of course, these uniforms also need to be available yesterday.

And if this perfect uniform exists, would it not already have been snapped up by another boat?! So you begin to understand the challenge involved!

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So what can be done with personalization? The first step in creating that special touch is to make use of embroidery or printing. In the most basic circumstances a yacht can include the name and logo of their vessel, but you can use this in all sorts of creative ways to make uniforms stand out and differ. You can also alter an existing design by removing or adding elements and changing the color or material in line with the client’s vision. A chat with the Special Production Team at Dolphin Wear indicated that the answer is quite simply, ‘What can’t be?’ .

grey parachute boardshorts and skirt 200Unfortunately for reasons of privacy it wasn’t possible to pair yacht names with the uniforms that have been created for them, but I was able to take a few pictures that give you an idea of what is possible in the realm of custom design. Time and supplier restraints remain the greatest challenges, but after seeing what is possible I would certainly say the finished products are worth the wait.

The current project is for a boat where personalization exists right down to the very tip of the boardshort laces, which have the boat's name engraved on them. These shorts are also made with fabric that mirrors important aspects of the boat and a poem on the back echoes its philosophy. These special features do not detract from the functionality of the shorts, but the details make them almost works of art.

polos 200Wearing something that is similar to your fellow crew mates, and different from another yacht’s uniform, is an attractive feature, enhancing team spirit. And it isn’t often that you come across a yachtie who hasn’t kept commemorative items of clothing from the boat they worked on as a souvenir of the time spent onboard; a uniform can reflect the essence of the boat.

The trend for personalization is also appealing for other reasons. People thrive on change and they like to be different, particularly young, adventurous yacht crew.

uniform resized 280At the same time, uniforms are increasingly seen as an extension of the yacht’s décor, with the goal of echoing one signature theme that describes the core spirit of the boat.

Times have changed, that's for sure.  Dolphinwear’s 2004 catalogue was a mere 36 pages long with less than 100 products (I did some counting). This included all formal and casual wear, outer garments, technical and work wear, foot wear and indispensables. Ten years later, the 2014 catalogue is over twice as long, with around 300 products, not counting the special production capabilities.

The yachting industry’s demand for uniqueness in uniforms has been noted! After all, this is the super yacht industry we’re talking about. Everything is bigger and more extravagant and a solution-based approach is imperative. Quality is paramount, but when it comes to personalization, it's creativity and enthusiasm that make uniforms more exciting.   


Dolphin Wear started out as a small, family-run business in 1989, providing quality products and services to yachts all over the world, helping them to create a functional and stylish uniform unique to their yacht specifications. Dolphin Wear is based in Antibes and Palma, with partnerships in Golfe Juan and Netherlands.

For more information please visit our website or call us directly on: +33 (0)4 93 34 03 08

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