ROCKFORD, Mich., Nov. 22 /PRNewswire/ — Office workers across the country are trading pinstripes for polo shirts and high heels for comfort casuals — but employers and employees alike are finding that casual can erode into the chaotic.

The Hush Puppies Company today hosted a fashion show for 450 employees of its parent company Wolverine World Wide, Inc. (NYSE: WWW) on the do’s and don’ts of professional casual dress. The fashion show also offered employees cost-saving tips on ways to build a casual wardrobe without breaking the bank. Wolverine World Wide recently instituted a 5-day-a-week casual dress policy at its Rockford, Mich.- based international headquarters.

The global manufacturer and marketer of casual footwear and clothing used employee and professional models to present and discuss the components of appropriate corporate casual dress, and what clothing constitutes improper workplace attire.

“The fashion show was an opportunity to address potential problems or concerns associated with the new casual dress policy,” said Robert Sedrowski, vice president of human resources for Wolverine. “Some employees were concerned by the financial burden of having to build a whole new casual wardrobe, while management was fearful of employees pushing the acceptable limits. We used the fashion show to both illustrate and discuss these issues.”


The casual trend is supported by an informal survey conducted by Wolverine World Wide of 200 of the largest companies in America. Of the 62 total responses, 45 reported their company had a casual dress policy (73 percent), and 35 (78 percent) of the affirmative responses said the policy was instituted within the last two years. In addition, 75 percent of the top 20 Fortune 500 companies have a casual dress day at least once a week, according to the September 1994 edition of MR magazine.

“Casual dress traditionally has been taboo in a business world dominated by blue suits, white shirts and neckties, but that trend is quickly reversing,” said Geoffrey B. Bloom, Wolverine President and CEO. “Our Hush Puppies brand casual footwear line clearly is benefiting from this growing ‘casual workwear’ trend, with double-digit increases in both men’s and women’s unit orders through the first nine months of the year.”

The Hush Puppies fashion show, narrated by Maggi Mercado, Hush Puppies vice president and director of fashion and design, and Louis Du Brow, vice president of apparel licensing, also offered suggestions on inexpensive ways to convert everyday clothing into more appropriate corporate casual dress. The fashion show was staged at Rockford High School.

Wolverine World Wide, Inc. manufactures and markets a wide variety of branded footwear and pigskin leather. Major branded products of the Company include: Hush Puppies(R) shoes, Wolverine(R) Work and Outdoor footwear, Wolverine Wilderness(R) footgear, apparel and accessories, Coleman(R) footgear, Bates(R) uniform footwear and Bates Floaters(R), Tru-Stitch(R) slippers, Sioux-Mox(R) moccasins, Wimzees(R) casual footwear, Satin Suede(R), River Buck(R) and Scrububbles(R) performance leather.

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