Pity the McDonald’s uniform. Themed after a clown, the burger chain’s enforced garb has been “reliably hideous” for most of its history, the San Francisco Chronicle once observed.
From the hat-n’-bib days through the very long Polyester Era: a garish rainbow of questionable color choices.
So when McDonald’s decided to break free from the color wheel last week, giving 850,000 U.S. employees what Hypebeast calls “a modern, monochrome makeover,” the new look turned heads.
In a good way.
“Your chicken nuggets will be served up by someone donning a look equally as suited to dispensing artisanal kombucha in a Brooklyn fair-trade coffee shop/bar/vegan bakery/bike shop hybrid,” style site Refinery29 wrote in what we think is a compliment.
And more than 70 percent of crew members were lovin’ the uniforms in an internal survey, according to a McDonald’s news release.
Even in the hypercritical Twitter stream, some think the outfit is very fire emoji.
McDonald's Debuts New Uniforms by Waraire Boswell https://t.co/oCElbONPrU
— Since 1984™ (@Tahoe17) April 21, 2017
Oh, but then, Gizmodo :(
— Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) April 21, 2017
“Mandatory gray-on-gray with a dash of black is pretty much universally recognized as the standard uniform for bleakest of futures,” Matt Novak wrote for the site, tossing out a few choice sci-fi references and instantly inspiring a meme.
We’ll just let these run for a while …
— Joshua Blankenship (@blankenship) April 21, 2017
I’ll take the Quietus Last Meal Combo please https://t.co/FXZHXFS1FQ
— Jacob Harris (@harrisj) April 21, 2017
"New, delicious, Soylent green! The miracle food of high-energy plankton gathered from the oceans of the world!" https://t.co/dvlmw9biEr
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) April 21, 2017
When a meme goes from zero-to-Keith Olbermann inside two hours, you know it’s substantial.
Not that a bit of mockery is going to stop McDonald’s plans to roll the uniforms out to some 14,000 restaurants in the United States — marketing them as a boon to employee “individuality.”
“The new collections were designed to bridge the gap between fashion and function, allowing for an easy transition from the restaurant to a social environment,” reads the chain’s news release, with no suggestion whatsoever that said social environment is supposed to be a futuristic hellscape.
— Quantum Multiverse (@Multiverse_HQ) April 21, 2017
To be fair, the uniforms look much less dystopian without the “convertible denim aprons” now infamous on Twitter.
Restaurants will even be able to choose between two “collections” for their employees: “WARAIRE for McDonald’s” and “Timeless Elements” by designer Bindu Rivas.
They’re both mostly gray. But still.
“It’s the first time ever that the chain has worked with fashion designers or stylists,” Refinery29 wrote.
The outlet interviewed Waraire Boswell (of Ryan Gosling and Bruno Mars garb fame) about his WARAIRE design — which it turns out was inspired by his lingering embarrassment over a McDonald’s uniform he had to wear in his youth.
“I routinely changed into different set of clothes before leaving the restaurant,” Boswell said. “I wanted to design a line of uniforms that people would feel comfortable wearing outside of work.”
Disclaimer: The author of this article worked at a McDonald’s in the late 1990s and wore his uniform home without significant trauma, although his fashion awareness was poor in general.
Anyway, McDonald’s has been around a long time. If its cooks, cashiers and assorted crew members could get through this phase, they should be fine in the colorless future.
And it’s really just Gizmodo and its readers making fun, so far.
A few of them have even noted that when it comes to the fast-food industry, style is extremely relative.
“You want this hot mess back?” a commenter wrote above a picture from the burger chain’s red-and-orangish-yellow era. “I rather the authoritarian look than clown vomit.”
— Sven Creichto (@Crightiest) April 21, 2017