Designing Healthcare Clothing With Children

May 20, 2024 | Aileen's Uniform Atlas, Healthcare

The Pulse is pleased to introduce Aileen’s Uniform Atlas, a new recurring feature written by Aileen Out.
Out is the owner of Prettybusiness, a news blog in the Netherlands that focuses exclusively on work clothing.

When designing workwear, you always have the customer in mind, alongside the wearer. Or the patient, when it comes to clothing in healthcare. But what do you do when the patient is a child? You simply design the clothing together with the children…

Children’s Advisory Board

In 2016, fashion and workwear designer Monique Collignon was commissioned to develop workwear for the Princess Máxima Center for pediatric oncology. The hospital, named after the (now) queen of the Netherlands, was moving to a new location. And with a new location comes a new look.

While most designers typically start by talking to the staff, Collignon took a different approach. She invited a group of children being treated in the hospital to participate in the design process. After all, they were the ones who had to look at the various uniforms all day long. A children’s advisory board was formed, where young patients, aged between eight and sixteen, used collages to show what kind of clothing they liked. The children didn’t seem to like the white suits the staff wore. They wanted to add colors so they could distinguish different employees.

In addition to the children’s advisory council, there was also a clothing committee, with various hospital employees representing the almost 1,000 employees. This allowed doctors, oncologists, nurses, as well as psychologists and laboratory workers to share their opinions. After each meeting with the children, the clothing committee received feedback. Then the staff could express their thoughts on the ideas and share what was important to them.

Meanwhile, Collignon engaged with the hospital’s interior designers. Because in addition to the wishes of the children and the staff, the clothing also had to match the building. This ultimately led the designer to come up with a color palette of white, khaki, light blue, dark blue, and mint. And orange, the color of the hospital and the Netherlands.

Sustainable and Successful

The tender was won by De Berkel, a manufacturer specializing in healthcare clothing. In addition to the clothing requirements, the hospital also placed value on sustainability. Materials were chosen where polyester is partly made from PET bottles. So, a uniform in size M contains 27 half PET bottles.

During the opening of the hospital in 2018, the new workwear was also presented. And it turned out to be an immediate success. In the same year, Collignon and De Berkel won an award at the Corporate Fashion Awards for the best healthcare clothing.

It shows that thinking outside the box can not only be very inspiring but also successful. After all, children are our future.