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Fashion Meets Hospitality

Written by  Mika Apichatsakol

“The Design Issue”, May 2023

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Thai fashion house Asava is known for making headlines with its elegant garments, so why should we expect any less from them when the assignment is uniforms?

When it comes to leaders of the Thai fashion landscape, designer Polpat Asavaprapha and his fashion house Asava are often the first names that come to mind. For over a decade, Polpat, also known as “Moo”, has dressed Thailand’s top celebrities and names in fashion, not to mention our country’s revered Miss Universe candidates as they compete on the international stage. The name Asava has now come to represent more than just the flagship luxury clothing line of Polpat, but a lifestyle brand consisting of various fashion lines—from bridal to casual wear—and even restaurants Sava Modern Thai Flavour and Co Limited. It has also come to include B2B design services for corporations requiring cohesion in staff image.

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“It all started in 2010 when I was contacted by Bangkok Airways to do their uniforms,” Polpat explains. “The project blew up beyond what I could have imagined.” Highlighting the Thai airline’s bright blue colour palette on modern smart-casual silhouettes, including fitted slacks for the female staff, Asava’s designs drew the attention of many notable international publications, including Condé Nast Traveler, which named Bangkok Airways’ uniforms among seven of the world’s most outstanding airline uniforms. The success led to the formation of Uniform by Asava, a department within Asava Group offering branding solutions for organisations in sectors such as hospitality, banking, telecommunications, and F&B. 

Another such organisation which has employed the creativity of Asava to design its uniforms is the recently revamped Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre (QSNCC). The convention centre, which was constructed in 1991, was extensively renovated during the recent pandemic, to increase its capacity to host largescale expos and events, as well as to give the space a sleeker, more modern look fitting with the times. Along with the architectural upgrade, Asava was commissioned to redesign QSNCC’s staff attire under a similar concept of showcasing Thainess in a modern and international context. Asava brought to the table a sophisticated colour palette of grey, black, and white, with pops of gold and ochre borrowed directly from the QSNCC brand identity. The fashion company also employed draping and pleating techniques and silhouettes that are a subtle nod to Thai garment traditions.

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Polpat tells us about the significance of uniforms for an organisation and how that, in turn, informs his work designing them. “For me, uniforms are a means to communicate the self. They reveal who the organisation is and what the beliefs, attitudes, and goals of the organisation are. It’s no different from an individual making a statement about themselves by how they dress. Therefore, the work of designing uniforms shouldn’t be taken for granted.”

The designer also cannot help but to use the buzz term “soft power” to describe the purpose of uniforms, and it is entirely apt in this case. In hospitality especially, the staff are typically responsible for the customer’s first, if not most critical impression of the brand. At the same time, clothes and styling have a tremendous influence on how we carry ourselves and present ourselves to the world. I remember visiting the Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel when it had just opened in 2020. I was being shown the hotel’s facilities by a very charming and well-dressed staff member, to whom I noted that we were wearing the same colour: bright red, the colour of confidence. She proceeded to tell me that her uniform was designed by Asava and how proud she was to be wearing it.

This perfectly demonstrates the double-sided effect of Uniform by Asava. Not only does Asava help a brand represent itself in the best light to onlookers, the designer imparts a bit of its own legacy and pride to the uniform wearers. Polpat explains it best when he says, “Uniform by Asava isn’t just in the business of creating uniforms for organisations. In a way, we become a part of that organisation’s image that is recognised by its customers, the general public, and people within the organisation.”

The Design Issue

Discover the fascinating world of design in our latest magazine issue! Featuring design innovator Bill Bensley as our cover star, we delve into his creative process behind some of the most remarkable properties in South East Asia.

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