Health-Care <i> Couturier</i>

Compared to the rest of the business world, dressing for success in the health-care industry used to be simple: Doctors and nurses just slipped into a standard-issue white smock and went to work.

But in today’s competitive health-care field, insists apparel manufacturer Barco of California, a plain white outfit just won’t do. Instead, the company has crafted a new line of clothing for health-care professionals that would make designer Calvin Klein proud.

Among the 40-odd apparel items that Barco manufactures for health- care professionals under its “Right Impression” label are men’s “consultation coats” in three colors; a soft bow tie in “Chaganal blue” and “Nurse-Mates” hosiery and panty hose.

For an additional 75 cents per item, those companies that want the ultimate in health-care fashion can have their corporate logo embroidered on the uniforms.


Barco’s foray into health-care fashion is not a mere promotional ploy, said Michael K. Donner, president and chief operating officer of Barco. The market for lab technicians’ smocks and nurses’ and doctors’ uniforms is vast because the $400-billion-a-year health-care industry is one of the nation’s largest employers, he said.

Gardena-based Barco, a leading manufacturer in the uniform field with about 450 employees, had net sales of $24.7 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, 1984, and posted net earnings of $278,000. The 55-year-old company has been supplying uniforms for a host of other companies including Sizzler restaurants, Thrifty stores and Winchell’s doughnut outlets.

“Image is becoming a more important part of the health-care industry’s overall marketing program,” Donner said. “It is beginning to borrow techniques from others” in the service industry “like airlines, hotels and restaurants to create a corporate identity program.”