Assassination Press

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Believe It or Not: Fat to Phat

CHICAGO -- McDonald’s is recruiting Russell Simmons, P. Diddy and Tommy Hilfiger to perform a miracle makeover: Turn its employees' mundane uniforms into hip street wear.

As it attempts to change its image from a fat purveyor to phat icon, the world’s largest youth employer is turning to these style-setters for what could be an $80 million makeover for its army of workers. The idea is to turn employees into walking brand billboards as they circulate among their peers.

“We’re looking at how do we make our uniforms more appealing, more desirable,” said Bill Lamar Jr., chief marketing officer for McDonald’s USA. He said the talks were “purely exploratory,” although a massive and costly overhaul has been planned.

Marlena Peleo-Lazar, chief creative officer for McDonald’s USA, is overseeing the initiative and has tapped former music executive Steve Stoute, with connecting McD’s with designers.

With roughly 30,000 McDonald’s employees that fall within the young-adult age bracket, “it’s very important to take [uniforms] from what they have to wear to what they want to wear,” Mr. Stoute said.

If the idea doesn’t get lost in translation, McDonald’s would end up rotating through a series of contemporary versions of the original Ray Kroc designs that would be changed in rotations. “You’re taking the original inspiration of McDonald’s and having very famous contemporary designers do a twist on it,” said Mr. Stoute. The ultimate test is whether employees would wear the outfits outside of work as a fashion statement.

Among the top designers the chain is eyeing: Mr. Simmons’ Phat Farm; P. Diddy’s Sean John; American Apparel; American Eagle Outfitters; Abercrombie & Fitch; Fubu; Rocawear; Tommy Hilfiger and others.

Fashion is one of the “languages” that McDonald’s is tapping into to improve its relevance with young adults. When the burger behemoth launched its “I’m lovin’ it” platform nearly two years ago, fashionable crew uniforms in the Netherlands became the rage and customers begged to buy their own versions.

The chain follows other hospitality companies -- especially hotels and airlines -- that for years have been tapping catwalk fashion designers to improve the look and cachet of their employee apparel. Delta’s Song hired Kate Spade to dress its flight crew, while W Hotels hired Kenneth Cole. Even the Italian police wear Armani.

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Blogger Wench said...

"The ultimate test is whether employees would wear the outfits outside of work as a fashion statement."

I think it's safe to say that no one will wear their uniform outside of work, no matter how "hip" and "cool" it seems.

Speaking as someone who worked in fast food right our of high school, my uniform was the symbol of pure evil, I tell you!

Said fast food company just re-vamped their uniforms, and on its own, the new shirts didn't look half bad...but the very fact that I was forced to wear it every day and say, "would you care for a parfait with that?" just ensured that those items of clothing would never touch my body unless I was getting paid a measley $5.25 to wear them! Not to mention the fact that no matter how many times I washed them, I still smelled like grease.

(passing through via Blog Explosion, btw)

10:05 AM  
Blogger Sar said...

Mickey D's will never equate to haute coture.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Jet said...

Unless they figure out how to make them NOT smell like "eau de Ronald" after a shift, my guess is this is going to come off a fresh as yesterday's fries.

6:33 PM  
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