Everyone's Got the Artisan Look Thanks to Handmade Aprons

Artisan hipster meets shabby chic - see why everyone's sporting handmade aprons

Apron fever is sweeping through the food crafting and local food restaurant community — for a good reason.

Everyone looks and feels great in a stylish apron. 

Blame vintage photos of cobblers, bartenders and blacksmiths clad in sturdy aprons, protecting them from the elements (shoe dye, splashing alcohol or burning embers). 

If you are what you wear, handmade aprons turn any staff into old-time crafters...at least in their minds. See what good a simple apron can do:

Hedley & Bennett, Apron Purveyors to the Stars

Hedley Bennett artisan aprons make cool foodservice uniforms
Hedley Bennett aprons handmade in Los Angeles turn barteders into cocktail craftsmen. Mary Costa

Ellen Bennett's apron company sprang from her work in restaurants throughout Los Angeles after she just said no to mundane, old fashioned restaurant uniforms 

Her simple idea was to make aprons by hand in Los Angeles from top quality fabrics, using construction that lasts under rigorous daily use in a working kitchen.

Her entrepreneurial instinct grew a multi-million dollar apron company in less than three years. 

Hedley & Bennett now outfits chefs and staff in more than 800 restaurants around the U.S. as well as food crafters, potters and candle makers. Fans include lifestyle gurus Jamie Oliver, Mario Batali and Martha Stewart.

The company's "bespoke" custom options help customers like Intelligentsia Coffee express their unique brand personality. 

Huh? The Staff Want to Pay For Their Own Uniforms?

Waiters, waitresses and FOH (front of house) people comment on how it’s the best and most comfortable uniform they've used.  

Several kitchens have even heard staff say they will pay to have that apron which is really saying something.

And who wants to buy their own uniform? Until now. More

The Only Thing Better Than an Apron - A Rough Linen Pinafore

Rough Linen natural linen pinafores at Cafe Clementine
Natural linen pinafore / aprons make the staff at Cafe Clementine. Susie Wyshak

As someone who's got apron and pinafore fever, I get it. 

Lucky for all the food crafters and big brands launching artisan-inspired restaurants and food products, Rough Linen is there to doll up staff with French linen pinafores (a sort of apron / dress combo), aprons, napkins and other linen.

Rough Linen products are handmade in the San Francisco Bay Area's Marin County — earthy elegance central.

If you can't tell by the cafe staff photo, once you put on a Rough Linen pinafore, a sea breeze wafts over you and you begin to say "You're welcome" instead of "No problem." 

In other words, your food business gets and stays classy. More

A Linen Apron of Considerable Heft from Healdsburg SHED

Classic blue denim aprons from SHED Healdsburg
Classic blue denim aprons from SHED Healdsburg turn a home cook into a chef. SHED Healdsburg

The best gift ever from the Good Food Awards — the shrine to artisan craft food makers — was a gift to us committee members in the form of an apron from Healdsburg SHED, in California's Wine Country.

This is the apron that caused me to give away all my other aprons. 

At SHED, the staff rove around in these beautiful handmade aprons made of medium-weight linen in San Francisco. (In reality, the aprons feel like substantial denim, ready to serve the most hard-working shoe  cobbler.)

The aprons match the overall SHED aesthetic that has led international magazines to profile the store's architecture, food selection, kombucha bar, and all the other goods that make you wish you had unlimited disposable income. Basically, it's like you walked into Martha Stewart's American Made awards list.

They're not your art student's aprons. These have a loop for securing a tea towel in place (for drying the rim of cocktail, I mean tea, glasses) and a roomy pocket for tools, notepads, cell phones and what not. The twill straps have nickel-plated grommets and twill straps. 

These babies are sewn to last and even have a label inside to write your name. Keep your hands off my apron. More

Customers Time Travel at Suzanne Goines' The Larder Restaurant

Restaurant servers in denim aprons, white button down shirts and retro caps
Staff at Suzanne Goines' Larder at Burton Way deliver classic great service in aprons, caps and white shirts. Susie Wyshak

At Suzanne Goins' Larder at Burton Way eatery in Los Angeles, the staff uniforms scream good, old fashioned service. 

The uniforms consist of:

  • a slim profile page boy-style cap
  • a substantial white cotton button-down shirt
  • and...an apron!

It's not just the uniforms that keep me coming back, but they are a big part of the super quality-yet-down-to-earth experience.

The Lucques Group of restaurants, to which The Larder belongs, sources aprons from Shannon Reed and also looks to Chef Warehouse and Chef Works for uniform supplies More

Even Starbucks Has Apron Fever

Coffee roaster apron at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Even roasters at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery rock the apron look. Susie Wyshak

Starbucks' Temple of Coffee, the Reserve Roastery in Seattle, features locally designed wood work, shiny copper coffee roasters and...old world-style aprons galore.

The coffee roasters and the staff all sport hefty aprons to round out the homage to all things handmade.

Starbucks clearly gets apron appeal for consumers as well. The home coffee fan can score one of the aprons adorned with oil-tanned leather, waxed canvas, and copper rivets for a "mere" $150. (You can wipe that sarcasm on your new apron.)

It's a far cry from the typical green Starbucks apron.  More

Seen the Ultimate Apron or Hip Foodservice Uniform?

Shout it out to me on Twitter @susiewyshak, whether your joint outfits staff in aprons or you're a handmade apron manufacturer. Let apron fever sweep the nation!