UPS “Browns,” one of the world’s most iconic and recognizable corporate uniforms, are getting a makeover.
It’s the first major redesign since the early 1920s, and the most significant change since the company’s drivers began wearing shorts in the early 1990s. The uniform is currently worn by about 125,000 drivers around the globe.
“UPS is in the midst of a company-wide Transformation, and a significant part of that effort involves a cultural and brand shift that embraces innovation, speed and relevance,” said Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Warren. “Our new uniforms have a more contemporary look consistent with the company’s ongoing Transformation efforts.”
The updates are designed to improve driver comfort, safety and performance. UPS drivers are often referred to as industrial athletes, so many of the changes to the uniform include using performance fabrics with improved stretch for better range of motion. Among the changes:
- Availability of a new pullover polo-style shirt with a three-button collar, made from a performance micro pique fabric that wicks moisture, improves breathability and enhances employee comfort in warm temperatures. The shirt is available in a short-sleeved version, and for the first time, includes color blocking on the sides.
- UPS® brand marks on the front and back of the shirt are embedded with reflective technology to make employees significantly more visible in poor light conditions. In addition, reflective stripes are being added to the shirt sleeves as well as the winter cap.
- Pants are now made with stretch twill, with a lower waist and more modern fit.
- A baseball-style mesh hat is also made of moisture wicking heat-regulating mesh material, as opposed to plastic. The company also offers a wide-brimmed hat for sun protection.
“Compared to the old uniform, this is a big improvement,” said 29-year Hialeah, Florida delivery driver Mark Monroe. Monroe was one of about 100 drivers in 30 locations who participated in months of beta testing of the new uniform options. “I’d give it a ten. Ten plus, plus! It breathes and it’s much more comfortable fabric – it makes a huge difference compared to the old uniform.”
Another Hialeah-based driver, Juan Constante, who has been with UPS for 31 years, feels the same way about the new Browns. “This is south Florida, so temperatures can be in the 90s with high humidity. It’s (the new polo shirt) moisture wicking so it keeps you cooler,” said Juan. “And there’s nothing wrong with going out there, doing a good job and looking good while you’re doing it. Two thumbs up!”
Outfitting UPS’s driver workforce is no small task. It takes nearly 4 million yards of brown cloth and 2 million yards of brown thread for the 375,000 hats, 405,000 shirts, 375,000 pairs of trousers and 290,000 pairs of shorts issued to UPS drivers. That’s enough cloth to stretch the distance of the Mississippi river.
As the new uniforms are phased in, UPS doesn’t plan to let the old ones go to waste. Old uniform pieces will be recycled, keeping old fabric out of landfills.
The new uniforms are being phased in across the country. And the current uniform options – including the most popular current shirt, a “shirt-jack” with a squared off bottom, worn untucked – aren’t going away. Drivers are able to choose the option they prefer.
New shirts and hats will continue to include the distinctive Circle of Honor patch, first added to uniforms about a decade ago for drivers who have reached the milestone of 25 years of safe driving.