• Kyodo

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Understaffed Japanese restaurants and food chains are trying to make their uniforms more stylish to attract more young female workers.

B-R 31 Ice Cream Co., the local franchise of American ice cream chain Baskin-Robbins, replaced its uniform in February with a new one designed by Wego Co., an apparel chain whose clothes are popular with teens and young adults.

“We made the change after some of our outlets asked us to come up with an appealing uniform that would be helpful in recruiting part-timers,” a B-R 31 official said.

About 400 of its shops have already brought in the new uniform, which is just a shirt, and the Tokyo-based company plans to introduce it at all of its 1,200 outlets nationwide.

The new shirt features the “31” logo and comes in three colors — pink, navy and light blue.

The previous shirt worn by female workers had pink and white stripes. The officials said the new one projects a more active image and is considered more popular with women.

“I like it as it doesn’t look like a regular uniform,” a 20-year-old female university student who works three to four days a week at an outlet in Tokyo’s Meguro district said.

“Even when we get really busy, I think I will feel energetic wearing this,” she said.

Seven & I Food Systems Co., the Tokyo operator of Denny’s, the family restaurant chain, changed uniforms for its female staff in April at about 90 Denny’s restaurants in Tokyo and adjacent Kanagawa Prefecture.

The former uniform was mostly brown. The new one combines a brown skirt with a colorful blouse — staff can pick from light pink, light blue or light yellow — with a thin red belt as a decorative accent.

“We designed it to fit workers across a variety of ages,” a company official said, explaining that its hall staff are mainly in their teens and 20s but also include older women. It plans to adopt the uniform at all Denny’s across Japan in three years.

Rival Skylark Co. said it is switching to a new uniform at its Jonathan’s chain of family restaurants, replacing the pink checked shirts with plain white ones to match its refurbished buildings and interiors.

“The simple uniform has so far received good feedback from both our staff and customers,” an official said.

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