If you hit up a stateside McDonald’s this month, you might notice something different about the employees asking if you’d like fries with that or pouring your McFlurry. The fast food chain is launching not one, but two new uniform collections at all 14,000 U.S. locations. And one of the fresh uniform concepts was whipped up Waraire Boswell, a designer who has suited up the likes of Ryan Gosling, Bruno Mars, Sean Combs, Nas, Will Smith, plus a number of major NBA stars, like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant.
In addition to Boswell’s designs, there's another batch of new uniforms, dubbed “Timeless Elements," that were designed by Bindu Rivas, a stylist across the pond who’s designed in the past for McDonalds in the U.K., in addition to a number of British chains, ranging from banks to airlines to postal services. “We challenged ourselves to design a uniform collection that could perform well within the work environment while still promoting versatility, comfort and personality,” Rivas said of her latest uniform-designing gig. Each McDonald's location will have the option of choosing between the two "collections" (fancy, right?) for its staffers.
While fast food chain uniforms might not seem like the most glamorous or boundary-pushing sort of design experience around, the exposure is huge — Boswell and Rivas’ designs will be worn by approximately 850,000 employees (and almost 25 million customers Big Mac-craving customers will see the getups daily). It’s the first time ever that the chain has worked with fashion designers or stylists to spruce up its employee outfits.
The biggest new addition? A convertible denim apron, shown above, that can be worn from just the waist down as a half-apron if a staffer so desires. So, now your chicken nuggets will be served up by someone donning a look equally as suited to dispensing artisanal kombucha in a Brooklyn fair-trade coffee shop/bar/vegan bakery/bike shop hybrid. Aside from the aprons, employees (or "crew members," as they're called) now have tees and long-sleeve shirts with a small McDonald's logo on the front, designed by Boswell, plus dark blue button-downs for male employees with bright red detailing. Rivas' "Timeless Elements" designs feature grey colorblocking on tees, ties, and polos, with yellow detailing (a nod to the hue of the chain's signature Golden Arches).
Boswell’s connection to Mickey D’s goes way back, in fact — his very first gig was at an outpost of the mega-chain in Pasadena, Calif. “I was personally inspired by my experience in the restaurant...As a former McDonald’s employee, I understand the design and functionality needs of the next generation of uniforms,” Boswell told Refinery29. “When I was a crew member, I routinely changed into different set of clothes before leaving the restaurant: I wanted to design a line of uniforms that people would feel comfortable wearing outside of work.”
Are there any similarities between designing for, say, basketball icon and the cashier at your neighborhood McDonald's? Well, sort of: "When designing a custom collection or a 45-piece ready-to-wear collection, it is important to design from the client's point of view...Universally speaking, it is no secret that everyone does their best when they feel confident and comfortable," Boswell said. "It is always essential that no matter who I am working with I make sure they look and feel great."
In addition to his own time spent behind the counter at the chain, Boswell used feedback from focus groups of current employees to find out what they wanted to wear to work. He also hit up the archives to check out the eatery's uniform evolution over the years. Below, check out some throwback uniforms, below, from 1950, 1968, and 1974, respectively, before seeing the latest evolution of the chain's getups IRL at your local Mickey D's.