Few people are eager to put on a uniform when they get to work, but fashion designer Noel Asmar is redefining how chic a uniform can be. For more than a decade, Asmar has been creating stylish uniforms for hospitality employees, letting a hotel team look consistent, fashionable and professional at the same time.
“I started my career in hotel management overseas,” Asmar said. In 2002, she returned to Canada to visit her pregnant sister, an esthetician, and discovered her struggle to find a flattering uniform to work in. “She spent her days making other people feel beautiful, and yet she was limited to boxy, uncomfortable smocks,” Asmar said. “At that time, there was no such thing as a ‘spa uniform.’ I designed a custom tunic for her, which she loved, and then I did research and nobody in the world was doing ‘Spa Uniforms’ online.”
That same year, Asmar launched SpaUniforms.com. The website offered, as Asmar describes them, “technical designs that were made for the way you move: flattering, fashionable and comfortable styles for the spa—all carried in stock.”
The site took off, and Asmar and her team branched out beyond uniforms for spa professionals. “‘Spa Uniforms’ no longer accurately reflected the offering,” she said. Catering to hotel front desk, poolside, room attendant, spa and salon, the company grew internationally as Noel Asmar Uniforms, and soon had expanded beyond just uniforms to include pedicure bowls and accessories.
Asmar Equestrian, another brand division under the Noel Asmar umbrella, followed in 2011, and in the autumn of 2016, Asmar will launch a “contemporary women’s fashion label.”
The journey hasn’t always been easy, Asmar noted. “The biggest challenge initially was educating the industry on a new concept in uniforms,” she said. Her goal, she said, has been to take hospitality outfits from a utilitarian style medical look to a “stylish yet very functional” branding piece.
Fabric, Fashion, and Functionality
“The art of hospitality begins with the guests’ first experience and extends beyond their stay,” Asmar said. “Hoteliers work diligently to create inspirational experiences for their clients from the beginning to the end of their stay, but often the power of appearance is overlooked. Creating a cohesive staff image from the valet to the front desk, from housekeeping to restaurant staff is paramount to success...We aspire to empower the entire staff with fashion-forward uniforms that resonates with the guests.”
More importantly, Asmar said, chic outfits “that fit and flatter the wearer” can improve the overall work ethic and the atmosphere of a business.
To keep the uniforms functional and fashionable, Asmar uses stain- and wrinkle-resistant fabrics that can hold up throughout daily use behind a front desk or housekeeping services. The uniforms have “enhanced vents,” Asmar says, and can be designed to a range of lengths to suit different needs.
The company’s Jada tunic (pictured above) is a top-seller, Asmar said. It uses a blend of the company’s “Performance Fabric” as well as the stain- and wrinkle-resistant “Signature Fabric.” The tunic has an asymmetrical gold front zipper and a silhouette that Asmar calls “ultra-flattering.”
This coming spring, Asmar will launch the company’s new hotel capsule, including new skirts and updated men’s dress pants, as well as silk blouses and “flattering” blazers.