McDonald's unveiled a new line of decidedly futuristic-looking uniforms this month, and over the weekend, many on the Internet decided the new look is a bummer.
Is it really, though?
Seriously: Are comfy, charcoal-colored T-shirts worse for workers than bright-red polo shirts? Which would you rather wear?
There's actually quite a story behind the new uniforms: Big-time designers Waraire Boswell and Bindu Rivas helped create the new collections.
One of the designers — Boswell, who dresses celebrities and pro athletes — worked at a McDonald's in California, as his first job, and felt "personally inspired to develop a look and feel that gives restaurant employees a greater level of confidence," McDonald's said in a release.
On Instagram, Boswell elaborated that, as teenager, he worked in a McDonald's in Pasadena ("on Lincoln"), during the basketball off-season.
"Never thought that 26 years later I would have the opportunity to overhaul the McDonalds America Crew & Manager uniforms and potentially dress nearly 860,000 employees in over 14,000 McDonalds franchises," he wrote.
The promotional photo from the restaurant of the three young people in shiny-gray attire seems to have above inspired the debate, though, after Gizmodo tweeted that the uniforms "promise to usher in the Logan's Run dystopia we've all been waiting for."
But there is something about the pose and styling that seems to evoke a scary apocalyptic movie poster. In an informal survey around our office, several referenced sci-fi blockbusters.
"I feel like someone would wear these during the parade before the Hunger Games," Zach Pagano, a multimedia producer for TODAY, said.
"The Empire has won, and in this new world order, you shall bow before us and beg for your burger, fries and milkshake, or have your planet destroyed," associate editor Scott Stump added.
Maybe it's the shiny, metallic-like color scheme, but it did drum up lots of doomsday scenarios straight out of Hollywood: "I feel like McDonald’s is trying to warm us up to the idea of robotic workers. We will not be brainwashed!" associate food editor Emi Boscamp said.
Not all were turned off by the look, though: "I think they look cool. They're sleek. I bet a lot of the employees like them," Phil Caulfield, senior editor, noted.
Another editor, Jordan Muto, had mixed feelings — and some nostalgia: "I think the gray gives the uniforms a modern look and update, but they really lack personality. I think these uniforms look like they could be at any chain or restaurant. I feel that the old red-and-yellow uniforms were part of the McDonald’s brand and part of its identity — I mean, Ronald McDonald is red and yellow himself."
To jog your memory, here's a photo of what those retro uniforms looked like:
Today, McDonald's franchisees have a relative amount of leeway in selecting uniforms for their employees — a current catalog from a uniform supplier for the chain includes dozens of options, including various polos, T-shirts, aprons and accessories such as ties, hats and outerwear. Most of the current selections, though, are decidedly unexciting — red or black polos you could wear to any corporate office park on casual Friday.
Aside from the Hunger Games-esque shot above, a closer look at the new collections reveals lots of comfy-looking slate-blue and charcoal-gray tees that we could definitely get behind:
Look! There's even a cardigan:
You may already start spotting the new look in U.S. restaurants now: McDonald's said the uniforms are available to all 14,000 restaurants, and estimates they may be worn by about 850,000 employees.
More than 70 percent of employees surveyed "feel that the new uniforms provide a modern image that they would be proud to wear," the company said in a statement.
Keep an eye out for the new look in real life and let us know if you are, indeed, lovin' it.