I often hear people say, “There’s too much fashion and apparel,” and even with 45 years in the fashion industry, I can’t help but generally agree with them.
After a year and a half of the pandemic shutdown, many of us saw that much of the clothing we own is more of a want rather than a need. As a woman who built her brand in the industry, I could feel it was time to make a change.
During the pandemic, many of us in the fashion industry looked for ways to help support those on the frontlines of the pandemic. It seemed like everyone was making face masks and hand sanitizer, including Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, H&M, and Zara.
As a Filipino-American designer with a family full of doctors, I saw another side of the pandemic. The healthcare industry is the nation’s largest employment sector, with 20 million Americans, and an estimated four percent of nurses in the United States are of Filipino descent like me; in states like California, that number can rise to as high as 20 percent. Yet still, little innovation has occurred in the scrubs space to meet the needs of those wearing them every day: doctors, nurses, and clinicians.
What’s resulted are the “typical” scrubs we see today — scrubs that don’t move or breathe like the healthcare workers wearing them do. In emergency situations, the last thing they should be thinking about is baring their chest or showing their backside while bending down to help a patient, or trying to find a place to store phones, tablets, stethoscopes, or other essential equipment needed at a moment’s notice. They work tirelessly in uniforms — scrubs — that simply don’t work. These frontline healthcare workers need fashion.
While the word “fashion” conjures up images of The Devil Wears Prada, couture, and supermodels, fashion is ultimately about looking and feeling good. Fashion is about the belief that clothing has transformative power to make the wearer feel more themselves — more beautiful, empowered, and comfortable.
This cannot be truer than in the world of lingerie, where I started my career. Lingerie is the closest thing to your own skin; it is your second skin. You need to feel good in it and it needs to be comfortable enough to wear all day.
Many sacrificed themselves to keep the rest of us safe. Coming out of the pandemic, I hope these scrubs serve as homage — a thank you to clinicians — for their dedication and care over the last year.
Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers need the same kind of comfort in their second skin — their scrubs. Scrubs are not a uniform; they represent the individual’s purpose and mission to help those who need them. It is only right that scrubs should express healthcare workers’ individuality, be luxurious, comfortable, and functional, and ultimately, feel good.
Of course, the design is only half the success of an effort like this. I knew I needed a partner who understood healthcare and could integrate the function that clinicians needed with the fashion they desired. I knew in my first conversation with Chaitenya “Chat” Razdan, founder and CEO of Care+Wear, a “for-purpose” company committed to making patients feel more human and less like patients, that he and his team were the ones to work with.
We spent the last year working alongside almost 100 clinicians to understand every detail of what they needed to feel supported. We pored tirelessly over details like fabric, fit, pocket placement, triple enforcement of necklines, longer hems, and more.
Fashion shouldn’t have to live without function and vice versa. Scrubs can be stylish; they can move and breathe; they can celebrate the people who wear them and allow healthcare workers a way to look good, feel good, and still provide the best care they can.
The pandemic made all of us stop and think: grateful to be alive and healthy enough to survive the pandemic. But we didn’t do it alone. Many sacrificed themselves to keep the rest of us safe. Coming out of the pandemic, I hope these scrubs serve as homage — a thank you to clinicians — for their dedication and care over the last year.
When I started The Natori Company, my philosophy was and remains “where life meets art.” Healthcare workers spend so much of their time in their scrubs, yet like many uniforms, this significant part of their lives is overlooked by the fashion industry.
I believe in creating clothing that people can look and feel good in 24/7, no matter where they work but also because of where they work. That’s why I’m so proud to bring life and art together in this new scrubs collection and help fulfill the need —not want — of fashion.