The First U.S. Company To Trademark Their Service Uniforms Was?
It would be easy to guess that the first trademarked uniform in the United States belonged to an old organization: a courier service, maybe a long-running hotel like the Greenbrier, or the like. Curiously, the first service uniform wasn’t trademarked until 1964 when the Playboy company filed a trademark (Registration No. 0762884) for their iconic Playboy bunny outfits.
The outfits, known as “bunny suits”, were the work uniform of waitresses at the Playboy Clubs (run between 1960 to 1988 and then briefly in Las Vegas during the 2000s). Unlike your typical wait staff job where your boss might tell you to pick out a small, medium, or large shirt from a bin in the storage room, the bunny suits were an elaborate affair. Each uniform was a custom made rayon-satin strapless merry widow corset teddy created at the club the waitress was employed at by the club’s full-time seamstress and fitted exactly to the waitress. (It isn’t coincidental that every bunny suit appears to be perfectly molded to the wearer.)
Each costume was returned to Playboy at the end of the period of employment and was put into permanent storage. Over the years costumes of historical significance (either by place or by wearer) have been auctioned off by Playboy Enterprises and, more rarely, an authentic but unreturned uniform makes an appearance on eBay. The only two official bunny suit uniforms on public display are located in collections of the Smithsonian and Chicago History Museum.
Image courtesy of Playboy.