Uniform Stylings by Mother Nature

May/June, 2007

Caretaker uniforms at New York's Bryant Park reflect their surroundings.

The London plane trees that border Bryant Park in New York City attract thousands of people to the park each day. Earlier this year, when park officials gathered to discuss new ways of making the grounds even more attractive, they decided the park employees' uniforms needed a facelift - one inspired by the uniquely colored trees.

Jerome Barth, director of operations for Bryant Park Corporation, says the idea kind of fell together. "The employee's winter equipment was not satisfactory, so we thought, 'What if we had these great uniforms?' They would provide wonderful protection for winter and a better look to bring people into the park," he says.

To accomplish the upgrade, officials turned to Bryant Park board member and designer Stan Herman. "Herman decided that the color palates should be born from what we find in the park," Barth says. And with the London planes' light green leaves and bark that changes color throughout the year, he had all the inspiration he needed.

The new uniforms consist of deep green cargo pants with reflective striping on the side. "This is something we didn't have before and will make it much easier to see the staff at night," Barth says.

A standard khaki-colored cloth belt complements the pants, while on top, employees wear a dark colored T-shirt underneath a signature lime green polo that has a brown accent on the sleeve. "This is a more daring color that Stan came up with, but it provides a strong stab of bright color, making the staff much more visible," Barth adds. All of the elements except the pants feature Bryant Park's logo on the left chest.

For the winter months, Bryant employees were issued a khakicolored fleece pullover that can be worn alone or as an undergarment, and a green and khaki-colored jacket with all-weather protection and reflective striping on the sleeve. Khaki-colored caps complete the look.

Layering, Herman says, was the key in making the uniforms functional. "We chose materials that we have worked with in other programs that have outside-working employees," Herman says. "More importantly, the layering of the pieces allows for more customization, so the individual will be comfortable while working." While the program features "tried and true" fabrics that employees find comfortable yet practical, outfitting a small number of employees in custom colors was anything but easy. "These are custom uniforms with all custom colors, but necessary considering Bryant Park is one of the most high-profile parks in the country," he adds.

Employees were involved from the beginning so they could have a say in what was best for their needs - and it seems they're happy with the improvements. "They're enjoying them immensely," Barth says. "They're extremely happy that we made the big investment of new uniforms, and that they were involved in the process throughout the conception of the uniforms. To see that reflected in the final product is terrific." - AL