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How The Spa, Service, and Uniform Industry Is Evolving

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When I first opened our doors — a scrappy two-person shop working out of my home office — our mission was to empower spa and wellness professionals to feel and look their best. It was a mission born out of too many personal experiences where I had felt the exact opposite: uncomfortable and unprofessional in hand-me-down uniforms from the last person in my position.

Our work began with the following assumption: When spa and wellness professionals feel and look their best, it promotes a positive brand, increases both employee and customer satisfaction and loyalty, and results in a positive return on investment.

What we could not have predicted was how right that assumption would turn out to be.

It’s been an honor designing technical uniforms for your teams over the past 15 years, and we look forward to serving you for the next 15 years (and beyond). We’ve heard from clients that their uniforms have provided freedom of movement on the job, and fostered a proud sense of professionalism. But we also know that our industry is changing and that your uniform needs may change with it.

I’d like to begin a conversation with you: our partners, clients, and fellow designers. What do we want our industry to look like in 15 years? What innovations or disruptions can we expect? In what ways do we want to improve or evolve? And how best can our team at Noel Asmar Uniforms support you as you go through those transitions?

The Expanding Field of Wellness

In 2002 when Noel Asmar Uniforms — at the time called SpaUniforms — was founded, the spa industry stood alone and independent. Within the first five years, we watched the shift toward integration with the hospitality and hotel industry. And within 15, we’ve begun to see that same shared purpose emerge with healthcare and senior living homes as well.

Medical fields are beginning to understand that wellness is prevention, and that prevention poses a cost saving for health care system. But beyond the economics, they’re finding that wellness also means a better overall quality of life for patients.

This year’s Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI) Wellness 2030 Report confirms this trend, with researchers predicting that in the future, “the lines between wellness and traditional healthcare will become increasingly blurred.”

Conversely, the report also found that “the closer the wellness industry moves towards healthcare, the more it enters a severely regulated market – with regulations unlikely to decline in the future. These regulations may well slow the pace of wellness innovation, but not stop it.”

As the concept of wellness continues to expand into other industries, how will we reshape those fields, and how will they reshape us?

To better serve practitioners in this emerging area, we’ve curated uniforms for wellness professionals working within the medical and dental fields. But we’d also like to hear from you: What other new partnerships or integrations do you see developing in the next 15 years? Share your thoughts below in the comment section or on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

The Evolution of Fit and Customization

Our team believes that it’s important to spend time in the spas and environments where our uniforms are being worn. As clients, we’re able to experience a side of practitioners that we don’t get to see in the design process. In these visits, we pay attention to the fit of their uniform and try to identify ways that we might tailor collections to be flattering for a wide range of body shapes.

But what if we were able to go beyond serving a range of bodies, to serving every single body? As we’ve developed this practice, I’ve begun to imagine how the technologies we use may improve our ability to provide perfectly tailored uniforms for everybody.

In a recent post, we explored how five tech trends are reshaping the fashion industry. One of the disruptions we explored was 3D printing, which poses exciting opportunities for fit and customization.

And while 3D printing is currently trained more in hard than soft materials, our team has begun to imagine a future in which our clients are able to print their new employee their own custom fitted Noel Asmar tunic from the comfort of their own workplace. The possibilities seem endless.

The Disruption of Tech

As specialists in technical and stylish design for very niche functions, we like to keep an eye on timeless fashion. But we also keep an eye on other trends that may disrupt our field, or the industries we serve. Technology is changing the way uniforms are designed, where they are purchased, and how they are worn.

Beyond 3D printing, we’re seeing that artificial intelligence could enable the predictive creation so that the uniform you need is ready before you even know you need it. We’re seeing smart fabrics that could collect and report data through our uniforms themselves. We’re seeing virtual fashion shows and augmented dressing rooms. And we’re seeing a shift to rapid prototyping and replication.

“The wellness industry must get ready for a data-driven future,” according to GDI’s Wellness 2030 report. “It needs to – and will – become an extension of the data economy, if it wants to decipher the needs and desires of its customers and create offers that match them.”

It’s fair to say that, 15 years from now, our industry will look significantly different from today. But in what ways?

We’d like to know, what are you seeing? What are you hoping? How do you see technology changing your field and/or uniform needs in the next 15 years? Share your thoughts below in the comment section or on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

The Rise of Experiential Retail

In a recent podcast episode by The Indicator from Planet Money, reporters Sally Herships and Cardiff Garcia explored the changing face of retail with the conclusion that storefronts are shifting away from tradition retail and toward experiential retail such as spas, bars, specialty gyms, and venues. “You know, things you can’t get from Amazon yet,” Herships explains.

With this shift from traditional to experiential retail comes an increase in demand for quality service brands, and increased competition for trained personnel.

How will these demands reshape our field? What role will uniforms play in a retail world driven by experiences?

The Start of a Conversation

I ask these questions not because we need to decide today, but because I want to begin a conversation with you about how our industries will shift and transform in the next 15 years, and about how you see yourself playing a role in that transformation. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, concerns, and ideas.

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