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Finding the right footwear for your front of house

There are huge fluctuations in how footwear is taken care of in the hospitality industry with several brands opting for their staff to provide their own shoes. But moving forward and with an increasingly liable and accountable employer, can we continue not to take footwear into account when providing a uniform? We don’t think so and let us show you some options for your front of house staff’s uniform.

Shoes are the foundation for an outfit as they set the tone for the other garments so it’s vitally important to find something that works. When you’re buying a shoe for a uniform, either front or back of house, there are a number of factors to consider and style and substance need to be on equal footing- so to speak.

When considering style, comfort, functionality and quality one of the first questions you’re asking is; formal or casual footwear for your front of house staff? This question isn’t as straight forward as it seems as a shoe for all of your staff needs to portray the right image and last throughout the working day or night.

From Oxfords to Brogues, a formal shoe is often defined by its neutral colour and being of the lace-up variety. A clean, well-polished formal shoe is intrinsically linked to a certain level of professionalism that may be necessary for a ‘high-class’ establishment. However, the structure of the formal shoe, especially one made from leather may not fit everyone’s feet comfortably and depending on the brand they may not be suited for long or particularly busy shifts. Moreover, a good quality leather shoe will last a lot longer than a canvas shoe saving you money in the long run.

An Oxford shoe is considered the most popular formal or dress shoe; they’re distinct due to the closed lacing and the additional piece of fabric sewn across the toe section- they’re definitely a versatile shoe. Loafers with laces are an especially good option for an on-the-go service staff who needs a solid shoe they can slip on comfortably and still maintain that traditionally formal look. Brogues also share a lot of the positives associated with Oxford’s however you have to be careful if you’re buying a uniform for a restaurant in an area where elements like shoes are noticed and judged as traditionally shoes with decorative broguing patterns are considered less formal than the plainer Oxfords.

When considering a formal shoe for your restaurant, hotel or catering company, it may be tempting to seek out something with a higher price point in order to project the desired level of formality however more expensive doesn’t necessarily translate into a better quality shoe. Look for a sturdy sole for the shoe and take particular notice of the seams to see if they’re any noticeable glue lines that could potentially come undone after a few wears. Look for shoes with good insoles and arch support as well, your front of house staff will be running around for hours- a poorly made shoe could really make all the difference. And if you want some slip resistance in your formal shoes then check out our range.

But casualization over the past few decades has opened up several new options for footwear choices for your front of house team. Trainers are a great way of encapsulating a more relaxed environment and are perfect with a jean, apron and t-shirt combination. But you do not need to compromise on features. With Shoes for Crews and Mozo you can purchase trainers with slip resistant soles and leather uppers to increase water resistance from unwanted spills. And because trainers are such a broad category the style options range from ankle boots to classic sneakers. We think trainers are a strong choice for casual restaurants, bars, and cafes.

Outside of formal footwear and trainers, you also have the choice of the safety shoe. This is a value driven option but without question offers the most protection for your staff and will tick the most boxes for the HSE. Blackrock do a diverse range of styles for their microfibre safety shoes, all with steel toe caps and internationally accredited safety ratings. We also recommend Portwest’s Steelite Safety Shoe for a slightly more formal take on the classic shoe.  Stylistically, this category of footwear isn’t the best, but in terms of value, functionality and protection the safety shoe is second to none.

Overall, there are numerous options for footwear if you are looking to incorporate it as part of your front of house uniform. Depending on your focus, either style, comfort or practicality, you have choices out there. And if you can’t find anything you like on our website then why not use our Product Sourcing service?