For the best part of 100 years, The Salvation Army were distinctive in their wearing of uniforms, with high neck collars (men and women), caps for men and ribboned bonnets for ladies, (which had their roots in protective headgear as a defence against Victorian hoodlums and rioters in the late 19th century). Whilst minor modifications were made along the way, the essence of these uniforms remained unchanged until the early 1970s.
At that time the new ‘lapel style’ 4-button jackets were introduced, and this in turn brought the need to wear white shirts and blouses, completed by navy ties for men and brooches for ladies. However, jacket wearing was almost always the order of the day (all year round) so there was no need for any distinctive monograms or logos to identify the organisation on the shirt/blouse itself.
By the 1990s, with summer month temperatures a few degrees warmer and better insulated buildings, removing jackets for greater comfort became commonplace, and it was at this stage that a logo identifying the organization was seen to be desirable. The words The Salvation Army were embroidered into the left side of the chest, the t in Salvation being formed into a cross to indicate the cross on which Jesus died – the universal symbol of the Christian church. This logo became visible whenever the Salvation Army switched to ‘summer uniform’.
Fast forward to 2017, and organizational identity had become much more a way of life. A fast paced society had become used to recognising companies and corporates through distinctive logos rather than long winded names. The Red Shield of The Salvation Army is credited as being one of the most recognisable logos in the UK. With ‘summer uniform’ more regularly now worn on an all year round basis, Salvation Army leadership decided that a switch to feature the Red Shield on shirts and blouses would provide a more recognisable uniform and greater identity with the general public.
Having become the exclusive supplier of shirts and blouses to The Salvation Army some years earlier, Sugdens were asked to produce samples of garments featuring the Red Shield, with various sizes of shield and shades of red offered. This was no mean task – the detail of the wording ‘The Salvation Army’ in such a small shield requires very precise embroidery, but without ‘gathering’ the fabric of the garment around the shield.
Sampling completed, consensus was achieved on the size and shade of the shield and Sugdens went into production in the autumn of 2018. Delivered ahead of schedule in February 2019, the new ‘Red Shield shirts and blouses’ went on sale to Salvation Army members in March 2019. Initial response was excellent, with sales in the first 2 months 22% up on the previous year.
The Salvation Army loves its red shield….and now it loves its new Red shield shirts and blouses too!
Take a look at our video below showing the embroidery process…