Jeff Banks gives Barclays staff a pounds 4m makeover

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The Independent Online
Jeff Banks, the designer, launched Barclays Bank's new range of "corporate wear" yesterday for its 18,000 staff, in a pounds 4m exercise that spells the end of the bank's trademark turqoise jacket.

The old Barclays blue uniform is well recognised by the public but loathed by the staff. In a virtual rebellion by branch workers, Barclays was forced to come up with a new look - the "Elite Collection". Now they can choose from a wide range of contemporary styles, including elegant saris for Hindu staff and a maternity pinafore dress.

Mr Banks, looking dapper himself in a light brown single breasted suit, no tie and "Ken Clarke" suede lace-ups, paid tribute to Barclays' vision: "Few blue chip companies would take such a bold step as this. They're blazing a trail."

The designer compared Barclays' initiative favourably with NatWest, whose own corporate uniform is "very disciplined - they have to wear the same thing every day, which they find tedious". He insisted this was not a "uniform," rather a range of clothes which staff can mix and match.

At the launch at the Design Museum in London, Mr Banks explained that he had been briefed by the bank staff themselves around the country.

"One thing they didn't want was the old brilliant turqoise jacket - they said it made them feel they were working for a holiday business."

Such corporate makeovers are big business in the UK. Last year the corporate clothing market was worth up to pounds 380m, and it has grown by 90 per cent over the last nine years.

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