V&A unveils new staff uniforms designed by Christopher Raeburn

It’s been a fantastically busy and exciting year at the V&A; the Museum’s immense creativity and reach has continued to flourish and grow. The wealth of remarkable ideas and objects found here at the V&A are embedded across everything we do. From our architecture, exhibitions and events, to our publications, retail and digital media, each element is an important part of our story.

The V&A’s staff are integral to our purpose, and front of house staff are at the heart of this communication. Our superb Visitor Experience teams bring our brand to life – and in an exciting development – we are delighted to have worked with award-winning British fashion designer Christopher Raeburn on brilliant, new uniforms for our gallery assistants, retail staff and volunteers. These garments and accessories are colourful, practical and adaptable, whilst connecting with our foundational purpose in inspiring contemporary designers. Christopher focused on iconic objects from the V&A’s collections – from Japanese netsuke and a 1970s Spacehopper, to Bernini sculpture and an 1870s rocking horse – to design a print from their silhouettes. Importantly, Raeburn’s ethos of responsible design has also ensured that certified recycled and organic materials were used throughout. Our new uniforms ingeniously reflect the V&A’s distinctive spirit of creativity and imagination.

V&A staff in the new uniforms with designer Christopher Raeburn © Victoria and Albert Museum, London / Christopher Raeburn

V&A staff in the new uniforms with designer Christopher Raeburn © Victoria and Albert Museum, London / Christopher Raeburn. Photo: Shaun James Cox

V&A staff in the new uniforms with designer Christopher Raeburn © Victoria and Albert Museum, London / Christopher Raeburn

V&A staff in the new uniforms with designer Christopher Raeburn © Victoria and Albert Museum, London / Christopher Raeburn. Photo: Shaun James Cox

Our team asked Christopher how he approached working with the team and the museum.

V&A: You are probably now the designer with the most pieces in the Victoria and Albert Museum, but do you have work in the collection as well as on the gallery assistants?

Christopher Raeburn:
It’s been a real honour to design a uniform for the V&A staff. We’re also really proud to announce that we’ll be exhibiting a look from our iconic REMADE Silk Map collection at the V&A’s ‘Fashioned from Nature’ exhibition early next year.

Detail of new V&A uniform, designed by Christopher Raeburn. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Detail of new V&A uniform, designed by Christopher Raeburn. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

V&A: How did you go about designing the new uniform?

CR: The first thing we did was to sit down with the team and have a discussion; we felt it was really important to understand their needs – and their working environment over the seasons.

We worked closely with the V&A as we developed the collection and many feedback sessions to refine the uniform. We also felt using a vibrant colour palette was important but, ultimately, we wanted to draw as much inspiration from the museum’s collection as possible; especially through the print itselft, and the iconic objects from the Museum that feature within it.

Christopher Raeburn’s moodboard for the new V&A staff uniforms

Christopher Raeburn’s moodboard for the new V&A staff uniforms

V&A: How important is it to design to specific needs?

CR: Considered design is the core of what we do. Understanding what everyone needs to do the best job they can – from the front-of-house teams to the volunteers – was a vital part of the design process.

V&A: Did you have any concerns when you started working on the project? Did they change over time?

CR: The opportunity to responsibly design uniforms for such an incredible institution comes with an obligation to do things properly and in a considered way!
One of the challenges was around the fluctuation in temperature in the galleries. We needed to develop a carefully considered layering system to work across a range of temperatures and reflect the needs of different staff throughout the Museum.

Detail of new V&A uniform, designed by Christopher Raeburn. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Detail of new V&A uniform, designed by Christopher Raeburn. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

V&A: You place a strong emphasis on sustainable fashion – are any of the pieces for the V&A uniform made from recycled or upcycled material?

CR: Yes, all pieces have been designed and developed responsibly with a focus on certified recycled and organic materials throughout.

Detail of new V&A uniform, designed by Christopher Raeburn. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Detail of new V&A uniform, designed by Christopher Raeburn. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

V&A: How did you choose the textiles that make up the garments?

CR: The materials were very much chosen in line with our company ethos. Everything we do as a business is underpinned by the three ‘Rs’: Remade, Reduced and Recycled. From using recycled materials for the outerwear, to organic cottons for the jersey.

V&A: Would you wear it yourself?

CR: Absolutely! A lot of the pieces have been refined from classic Raeburn designs such as the mesh bomber jacket and rainproof parka. It’s been a real honour to develop those pieces further to meet the needs of the V&A.

V&A staff in the new uniforms with designer Christopher Raeburn © Victoria and Albert Museum, London / Christopher Raeburn

V&A staff in the new uniforms with designer Christopher Raeburn © Victoria and Albert Museum, London / Christopher Raeburn. Photo: Shaun James Cox

18 thoughts on “V&A unveils new staff uniforms designed by Christopher Raeburn

Yolande:

The V&A is my favourite museum. I love you and have been a member for a very long time. However, this is bad.

You are the V&A, not an ice-skating centre. Everything is wrong with these:
– lack of style
– looks cheap, as if bought at an outdoor shop
– unflattering for pretty much every body type
– utterly inappropriate for an institution like the V&A
– hard to identify as staff uniforms, look like tourists’ clothes

What on earth was the brief? If you want fleece and other “practical” fabrics, cut it classically like a blazer to make it look more upscale and use conservative colours. Did you consult staff and visitors on this? Or were you going for the big surprise…

Graham Thomas:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so hideous and cheap looking outside of a pound shop. Emperors new clothes come to mind and this is in the best museum of art and design in the world. Shame on the designer and the deluded management that accepted such tat.

L Lobo:

The range of uniform is great, and it’s not something that I’ve see done before.

I like the way the uniform is unique to the V&A; it’s approachable and identifiable at the same time.

The orange and blue work well together.

John Hopson:

What a shame, the uniform looks dreadful and a waste of time and money. I would reverse the decision now save any more embarrassment and stop production of any more uniform.I hope the staff have their old stuff to change back in to. Poor staff having to dress like that, its not their fault and I hope they don’t get any stick from the public .

CC:

Theme park guide? 6 flags magic mountain? Please. U can do better. U are V&A…

Jo:

Even Easy Jet knew to ditch this dreary dated look five years ago.

Andy Smerdon:

The new outfits look utter crap. I just hope you didn’t pay the idiot much money for this rubbish. My 6 year old daughter could have done better. What a disgrace but sadly standard for London museums these days

The V&A:

Thanks for your comments on our new uniforms, we really value your feedback. Christopher Raeburn designed these with a focus on staff’s needs. V&A staff gave written feedback, visited the design studio and were shadowed by the design team to ensure the uniforms responded to their requirements, for example the layering system that works across temperatures.

All the materials used are certified organic or recycled; many of these garments started out as plastic bottles. The print and colour draw inspiration from our collection. The garments are designed to work for our many different staff, like our wonderful gallery assistants pictured alongside Christopher here!

Eddie Cullen:

Please tell me this is a spoof!

H Hindle:

I’m afraid I think they are dreadful to say the least.
As others have suggested they look like supermarket uniforms not at all like what you would expect a prestigious museum would condone.

Damien Lyle-Stirling:

V&A you have really let yourselves down with this set of ‘designs.’ What on earth were you thinking? Your designer is either having a laugh or ought to be ashamed of himself for producing such a lot of talentless rubbish. Ok for a walking that couldn’t find anything better to wear, but they diminish the V&A and make me question your wisdom as management.

michelle Artemis:

Surely this post was meant for April Fools day! Words fail me.

Barry Martin:

Many of the comments already listed speak for themselves, and are extremely felt in the extreme. However, an aspect of the uniforms that is doubtful, when a comparative study is made in situ with the exhibits in the V&A’s collection as seen in the galleries, and not mentioned yet, is colour collision ! Many of the galleries have a neutral and subdued colour structure, giving the individual items a chance to shine in their own right. The bright red colouring of the proposed uniform will utterly distort this successful gallery code, and draw undue attention to it and its wearer? Why? It is not needed and will distort the visitors’ visual acumen. At the moment the neutral colouring of the museum’s staff uniforms complements the elegance of the collections and that of the building itself by not getting in the way. Why should any designer consider themselves to be above these standards by creating uniforms that are an’ intervention’? An ‘intervention’ of what?

Lin:

IKEA, B&Q, petrol station…….
:(

Liz Sl:

I had no idea the V&A employed Antarctic cruise guides in its exhibits.

Vivienne Austin:

Whilst I applaud Christopher Raeburn’s ethos in developing clothing that is both ethical and sustainable, I think the overall look of the uniforms does not serve the V & A appropriately.
When designing uniforms it’s essential to take into account staff needs and requirements as you have inferred, but this needs to meld with an aesthetic fitting with the venue and the purpose of the staff, which is to assist visitors in their ‘art’ experience.
The present outfits although modern are overbearing, look unprofessional and detract from the overall experience one would expect when visiting one of London’s most iconic venues. Sadly, this is a missed opportunity to demonstrate how practical British design can shine on a world stage and champion people and the planet.

Stephen Morris:

Our new uniforms ingeniously reflect the V&As position as the Burger King of world museums…

Mrs Victorian Lady:

Oh Lordy!!!! what more can be said than what has already been said!!!! in my opinion they are awful, yes its great to use recycled items that have been turned into fabric but, the staff look like they have just come out of a recycle centre??? really really disappointed! why does ‘being upto date’ have to be something weird? classy, smart, yes, I am proud to work here & you can ask me to help!! needs to be the theme please!!!!

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