The positive comments of a number of customers after debuting the livery of the Howsafe fleet’s first Ford Transit Custom recently got us thinking about our visual presence on the roads of Peterborough since the days of rattly old Bedford CFs and flared trousers. The Howsafe mobile shops and delivery vehicles have never been shrinking violets, evolving through a succession of striking colour schemes since 1978 to arrive at the current full colour design. The original in your workforce in safe hands logotype motif is still in use but not featured on the vehicles and colours have changed from red and royal blue to red, black and silver.
The Howsafe HQ itself, sitting on the edge of the busy Edgerley Drain Road has similarly become somewhat of a landmark; the large red branding lending itself as a navigation point to many a waylaid business traveler.
But even as design trends have waxed and waned the core of the business has remained very much a constant and we still strive to deliver upon the founding principles of the organisation: the best service and products at sensible prices 🙂
Our on-the-road shops have been a fundamental part of this mission, arming us with a unique service that has been saving our customers time and money since the 70s. Having this mobile infrastructure has enabled us to gear-up clients and their workforce on their own doorsteps and reduce the hassle of size exchanges and the inevitable returns. Most importantly, having a skilled and knowledgeable representative as a direct point of contract has helped us build some fantastic relationships that have spanned generations.
Whilst technology will continue to change the way we shop, we anticipate that in another three of four decades we will still be delivering our core ideologies, still supplying PPE and Workwear in Pterborough and still taking bold design decisions!
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For the health and safety experts who find the day job a little too pedestrian, a more glamorous position is up for grabs at MI5.
The British intelligence agency’s website is advertising for a Head of Health and Safety. The only potential problem for applicants is that the secret service have also shrouded the job description in secrecy –
“We can’t show you the buildings” explains the advert, “We can’t talk about the people you’ll work with. We can’t tell you much about the job. We can’t give you the exact locations. We can’t mention the kind of technology involved.”
It does go on however to explain that MI5 will offer a salary of up to £60,000 and candidates must have a NEBOSH Diploma or equivalent.
Interested parties should head over to the MI5 website.
With all eyes on Wimbledon, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at one of leisure and workwear’s most iconic designs and its roots in the glamorous world of the 1920s tennis circuit.
The modern polo shirt was invented by Jean René Lacoste, world number one in 1926 and 1927 and winner of seven grand slam singles titles.
Lacoste’s idea was to replace traditional tennis attire: the long sleeved shirt, tie and flannels, which he considered too cumbersome and uncomfortable.
His design was a white, short-sleeved shirt in a loose piqué cotton knit. It had an unstarched, flat collar with a three button placket that could be easily unbuttoned or turned up to protect the neck from the sun. The short sleeves wouldn’t roll down like traditional shirts and the material was more breathable. The tennis tail, where the back of the shirt is longer than the front is still a feature of modern garments.
Lacoste retired from tennis in 1933 and collaborated with clothing merchandiser André Gillier to market the shirt in North America and Europe. Together they formed the company Chemise Lacoste, adopting the iconic crocodile motif, which had been Lacoste’s nickname during his playing career. The company later caused a sensation when introduing the world’s first tubular steel tennis racquet in 1963.
Lacoste died in 1996, but his shirt is now worn worldwide for work and play.
The hoodie is a garment that has a modern history going back around eighty years, but has its design roots in medieval Europe, when monks favoured a cowl-type hood attached to a tunic or robe.
The contemporary hoodie first emerged as a functional item of workwear in the US in the 1930s, where it was used to insulate workers from the chilling temperatures of upstate New York.
The term ‘hoodie’ was not officially coined until the 1990s, but it was two decades earlier when high fashion and street culture collided to popularise the design. Sylvester Stallone famously donned the hoodie as an item of training wear in the 1976 film Rocky.
Later, leading designers such as Norman Kamali produced their own interpretations of the classic garment, whilst it became somewhat of a uniform amongst the youth and in hip hop and skate culture specifically. Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and others incorporated the hoodie into their collections and it was around this time that the fad for collegiate branding first took off.
Whilst the hoodie has had negative associations in recent years, and is seen by some as an icon of youthful rebellion, it remains very much an essential and workwear and leisure wear design, at home as much on the skate park as it is on the construction site. Simplicity, practicality and functionality will ensure that this sometimes controversial garment will be around for many years to come.
The art of sewing to reinforce, mend and alter garments can be dated back to ancient China in the 3rd to 5th Century b.c. This functional practise evolved into the art of embroidery, which has changed very little in the course of human history.
An example from migration period Sweden from between 700 and 300 a.d. / c.e. Displays many techniques including running stitches, back stitches, buttonhole stitches, tailor’s stitches and whip stitching. It is not known however if the work on this particular artefact is functional or decorative.
The 16t century chronicler Abu al-Fazl ibn wrote “His majesty (Mughal Emperor Akbar,) pays much attention to various stuffs; hence Irani, Ottoman, and Mongolian articles of wear are in much abundance especially textiles embroidered in the patterns of Nakshi, Saadi, Chikhan, Ari, Zardozi, Wasli, Gota and Kohra. The imperial workshops in the towns of Lahore, Agra, Fatehpur and Ahmedabad turn out many masterpieces of workmanship in fabrics, and the figures and patterns, knots and variety of fashions which now prevail astonish even the most experienced travelers. Taste for fine material has since become general, and the drapery of embroidered fabrics used at feasts surpasses every description.”
Embroidery was very important in the medieval Islamic world, labelled the ‘craft of the two hands’ by 17th century Turkish writer Evliya Çelebi. Embroidery was a trapping of high social status, thus the practise became an art form in Muslim society. Almost every garment from shoes to headwear was adorned with embroidery and even gold and silver was used as a stitching material.
Embroidery was a very important art in the Medieval Islam World, one of the most interesting accounts of embroidery were given by the 17th century Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi called it the “craft of the two hands”. Because embroidery was a sign of high social status in Muslim societies, it became a hugely popular art. In cities such as Damascus, Cairo and Istanbul, embroidery was visible on handkerchiefs, uniforms, flags, calligraphy, shoes, robes, tunics, horse trappings, slippers, sheaths, pouches, covers and even on leather belts. Many craftsmen embroidered with gold and silver. And each of these embroidery cottage industries employed over 800 people.
Around the same time in medieval England, guilds and workshops were founded called Opus Anglicanum, translated as ‘English Work’.
Professional workshops and guilds arose in medieval England. The output of these workshops, called Opus Anglicanum or “English work,” was famous throughout Europe.
The process would remain unchanged until the Industrial Revolution, where textiles were first processed on a grand scale. The earliest machines used automated looms with teams of women embroidering by hand. The manufacture of machine-produced embroideries first emerged in St Gallen in Switzerland in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
Modern embroidery machines are able to produce designs en masse with multiple heads operating at extremely high speeds. Designs are created as vector graphics before being exported into the embroidery machine’s native formats.
Howsafe operate multi-head SWF embroidery machines, which can apply designs to a wide selection of garments and items at very high speed.