HealthAgenda

Treatments & procedures

Bringing style to hospital gowns

This fashion start-up is bringing dignity and style to hospital gowns.

Health Agenda magazine
January 2018

How does a retired army sergeant come to launch a fashion start-up that’s bringing a little colour to hospital stays? For Bob Beveridge, it all started when his wife Sharon shattered her wrist in a bad fall several years ago.

“Sharon’s wrist was broken in 5 places so she had to go to hospital, and, of course, she had to wear one of those ugly hospital gowns – the terrible white things that show your bum,” remembers Beveridge with a chuckle.

Far from impressed by the unisex, one-size-fits-all hospital wear, he says they decided to “do something about that”. The 67-year-old, who hails from an army and air control background, didn’t have a clue about fashion – or the first thing about navigating a sewing machine.

“We had no idea at all, but we thought it would be fun to try something a little different, and so we did some preliminary drawings,” says Beveridge. “Then I heard about a fashion design course in Melbourne and I went along for 6 months. It was all about sourcing, pricing, design, importing and exporting – it was very good. We also visited some expos and suppliers, and that’s sort of how Hospital Glamour got started.”

Feel better to heal better

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, there are more than 10 million hospitalisations each year across the country, with 559,000 of those related to pregnancy or childbirth. That’s a lot of expectant mums and patients requiring hospital gowns – and perhaps feeling a bit vulnerable and out of their comfort zone.

That’s where Hospital Glamour comes in, Beveridge hopes. “We want to make gowns that are as comfortable and colourful as possible,” he explains. “We think if you look good, you feel good; you feel more confident and I reckon you get better quicker – that’s the way it goes.”

Psychologist Jacqui Manning agrees. “When we go to hospital, especially if we know we’re going under [anaesthetic], we’re giving control of our bodies to others, which is confronting,” she says.

“It’s natural for anyone to feel anxious, whether you’re having your first baby or undergoing a simple surgical procedure. So things like comfy gowns or pajamas can be really nurturing, make us feel cosy and looked after. And if you feel good, that triggers endorphins which can help calm down the stress hormones you might be experiencing.”

Pockets and animal prints

Three years since its launch, Hospital Glamour has 10 different prints for women in everything from zebra stripes to a classy bluebird print, plus a couple of stylish prints for men and a selection of accessories and gift packs.

“All are 100% cotton, easy to do up at the side, and offer pockets for your phone or purse,” says Beveridge. “We also go from small right up to XXL in sizing.”

For breastfeeding mums, the gowns have a flap at the top that can be unclipped easily, while the sides and front can be opened quickly for medical procedures and tests. “We haven’t had a chance to officially deliver to hospitals, although we’ve had interest from some clinics in Victoria and Queensland and nothing but a great response from customers, nurses and doctors,” says Beveridge.

What’s next for Hospital Glamour?

Beveridge says there are more fun new prints on the way, plans for a tracksuit pant and short pant – and, hopefully, hospital gowns for children. As a grandfather of 4, he’s seen firsthand how hard it can be for kids who have to go to hospital.

“My grandson unfortunately had a brain tumour a few years ago,” he says. “He’s all fixed up now, but spending time with him in hospital made me think that something really colourful and comfortable, to allow kiddies to feel better when in the hospital – that’s something we’d love to do.”

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