Not wanting to offend her colleagues who were dressed too casually for a conference, Jovita Toh, then with a different company and now CEO of Encore Inflight, came up with the idea to dress her team in uniforms. “I did not want to offend my team by telling them their wardrobe needed upgrading,” she said. “So, I went out and bought Chinese jackets for all of them.”
This idea stayed with Toh for Encore’s first years at APEX EXPO. The team put on simple, matching outfits that incorporated their logo and words that described their company on their shirts. The outfits were a different color every day – but they quickly realized people noticed more when they wore orange. “With orange being the main color of our brand, we decided to stick to it,” Toh said.
The outfit designs begin as early as May, with everyone pitching their ideas and voting on them. Toh and the marketing team then travel to Shenzhen to pick out fabrics and accessories and a second trip is made with the entire team for a fitting at the tailor’s in June. There’s usually a theme for each year. Sometimes, it’s inspired by the destination of EXPO. In 2016, the team were in Chinese dress in Singapore and in 2018, they sported preppy outfits in Boston.
“Everyone is always curious to see what the outfit of the day is. “People actually come by the booth just to check out what we’re wearing.” – Jovita Toh, Encore Inflight
“Everyone is always curious to see what the outfit of the day is,” Toh said. “People actually come by the booth just to check out what we’re wearing.” At EXPO in Portland, in 2015, four of the team members were wearing their uniforms out – orange suits with different colored ties and black sunglasses.
“We were walking back to our hotel when someone yelled to us, ‘Hey, orange people, can you come over?’ It turned out to be a crew filming a TV spot for Commercial Union, and they wanted us to be in a scene where everyone breaks out into dance. “We agreed and ended up being part of the national ad campaign!” Toh said.
With so many outfits created for so many conferences, what happens to the outfits afterwards? Toh says they are worn by the acquisitions team at film markets and by the sales team for APEX’s regional conferences and MultiMedia Market (now Content Market), making their team members easy to pick out of a crowd.
Being orange in a sea of navy, grey, black and white conference clothes certainly attracts attention. Toh says people used to laugh at them and make jokes about their outfits. But she says her team loves them. “Once a year the whole company goes on a team building retreat and we wear the uniform – it makes us feel like part of one unit. And on Wednesdays, everyone wears an Encore-branded outfit to work,” Toh said.