Air­line uni­forms make a state­ment about im­age and style. Here’s a look at some of the lat­est de­signs.

An air­line’s uni­form de­signs make an im­por­tant state­ment about the com­pany and its style

Business Traveler (USA) - - CONTENTS - WORDS CRAIG BRIGHT

Along with ex­pand­ing fleets and blos­som­ing route maps, air­lines are plow­ing their years of un­prece­dented prof­itabil­ity back into their prod­ucts, with reimag­ined lounges and new in­flight of­fer­ings. Ty­ing all these cre­ative im­prove­ments to­gether is each car­rier’s care­fully cul­ti­vated im­age – liv­ery, lo­gos, color schemes and ad­ver­tis­ing – no mat­ter how small, each el­e­ment re­in­forces the brand prom­ise and cul­ture of the air­line.

This im­age-mak­ing all comes to­gether for the pas­sen­ger with the peo­ple the air­line puts in its cus­tomer-fac­ing roles, from flight crews and cabin at­ten­dants to gate agents and concierges. How they in­ter­act with fliers, how they speak and, per­haps, es­pe­cially how they dress, all con­vey a cer­tain mes­sage about the com­pany they work for and the in­dus­try they serve.

So it is not sur­pris­ing that air­line fash­ion is in the midst of a re­nais­sance of sorts. Here’s a look at some of the car­ri­ers who are rolling out the lat­est de­signs.

HAINAN AIR­LINES

Ar­guably the most dis­tinc­tive and “high-fash­ion” uni­form on this list – its de­but at the 2017 Lau­rence Xu

Haute Cou­ture Show in Paris cer­tainly helps – Hainan Air­lines’ new staff at­tire show­cases the car­rier’s Chi­nese ori­gins. De­signed by Xu, the cloth­ing range fea­tures cheongsam dresses and Man­darin col­lars, though with dis­tinct Western fea­tures, in­clud­ing a full-length dou­ble­breasted pea coat-style over­coat for male staff.

Hainan’s is the lat­est new look to pre­miere in ser­vice, hav­ing taken to the skies last month. How­ever the air­line is no new­comer to cre­at­ing uni­form de­signs; these will be the air­line’s fifth gen­er­a­tion of staff at­tire, with its last up­date in 2010. The process has been on­go­ing for about two years through more than 1,000 de­sign blue­prints and a hun­dred gar­ment sam­ples. hainanair­lines.com

DELTA AIR LINES

Also new to the skies this year, Delta has launched its new staff uni­forms, around three years af­ter the part­ner­ship with New York-based de­signer Zac Posen was first an­nounced. The de­sign process en­com­passed 86 hours of fo­cus group ses­sions with staff to gather feedback and 1,000 “wear testers” put the new uni­forms through their paces over a pe­riod of three months to gather feedback on how they “held up in ac­tion.”

The new de­signs were un­veiled in May and the air­line re­ports that a to­tal of 60,000 uni­formed em­ploy­ees will re­ceive the new styles. The last time

Delta’s “above wing” staff re­ceived an up­grade to their uni­form col­lec­tion was al­most ex­actly a decade ago in 2008. delta.com

E VA AIR

In Au­gust 2017, Tai­wan’s Eva Air un­veiled its new staff uni­form on the same day it re­tired its “Queen of the Skies,” the 747, billing it as “a fond farewell to the old and an en­thu­si­as­tic wel­come to the new.”

This is only the third uni­form the air­line has rolled out; its pre­vi­ous change took place 14 years ago. Per­haps the most no­table as­pect of the new at­tire is that it was de­signed by Tai­wanese fash­ion house Shi­atzy Chen, which sent teams around to dif­fer­ent air­ports and aboard flights to ob­serve staff and crew at work to un­der­stand the re­quire­ments of their uni­forms.

Eva Air’s new uni­forms made their de­but in Novem­ber. evaair.com

UNITED AIR­LINES

At the same time, United also an­nounced plans for new uni­forms. As with Eva Air, these are be­ing de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with a fash­ion house – well, three in this case. Brooks Brothers, Tracy Reese and Carhartt will all con­trib­ute to the new col­lec­tion, which will un­dergo a com­pre­hen­sive se­ries of tests, fo­cus group anal­y­sis and con­sul­ta­tion be­fore it gets rolled out. Mean­while Tumi will be re­spon­si­ble for de­vel­op­ing lug­gage for all 24,000 of United’s flight at­ten­dants.

The cur­rent time­line for the new uni­forms to en­ter use is some­time in 2020, so trav­el­ers will have to wait quite a while be­fore they can wit­ness the fruits of these labors. united.com

FLY­DUBAI

Low-cost car­rier Fly­dubai has in­tro­duced its first uni­form re­design which co­in­cided the roll out of the car­rier’s 737 Max 8 ser­vice which be­gan in late 2017. The dis­tinctly ca­sual at­tire fea­tures pat­terned shirts and zip-up jack­ets along­side more for­mal fea­tures such as long skirts, blaz­ers and three-quar­ter coats – all of which were de­signed by Dubaibased hos­pi­tal­ity sup­plier, A. Ronai LLC. fly­dubai.com

AMER­I­CAN AIR­LINES

Not all uni­form changes are prompted by style con­sid­er­a­tions. In 2016 Amer­i­can Air­lines launched a muchtouted uni­form de­sign as part of the new look fol­low­ing the merger of Amer­i­can with US Air­ways.

Al­most im­me­di­ately, com­plaints started com­ing in from em­ploy­ees who blamed the uni­forms for a whole list of mal­adies from hives and rashes to headaches.

Although Amer­i­can and the uni­form maker de­nied any direct link, the air­line has re­cently an­nounced that it is switch­ing providers to Lands’ End for most of its em­ploy­ees, while pi­lots will be out­fit­ted by Mur­phy and Hartelius. The re­design is un­der­way and is ex­pected to take to the skies in 2020, fol­low­ing ex­ten­sive test­ing. One im­por­tant fash­ion side note: It looks like the color palette will turn full cir­cle to the tra­di­tional navy blue which was the hall­mark of uni­forms at both car­ri­ers pre­merger. aa.com

SCOOT

Sin­ga­pore-based bud­get air­line Scoot un­der­went some­thing of a re­brand re­cently fol­low­ing its merger with fel­low low-cost car­rier, Tigerair. New routes were an­nounced, as was a fresh air­craft liv­ery, along with a re­vamped staff uni­form to match.

New de­tails in­clude sub­tle nods to the air­line’s brand col­ors – black but­tons with yel­low thread, for in­stance – along with wider changes, no­tably switch­ing from t-shirts to po­los for men. The new uni­forms also have more black and less yel­low com­pared to their pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions. fly­scoot.com

AIR CANADA

Air Canada an­nounced a swath of new up­dates across its busi­ness last year, from a new loy­alty pro­gram that’s set to come into ef­fect in 2020, to a brand new air­line liv­ery for all air­craft in its fleet.

It was with this lat­ter liv­ery re­design that the car­rier’s uni­forms also got their up­date, tak­ing on a red and black color scheme to match the new look of its air­craft. De­vel­oped by Cana­dian de­signer Christo­pher Bates, the uni­forms are among the more con­ven­tional on this list, of­fer­ing a smart and quite for­mal look. air­canada.com

AL ASKA AIR­LINES

More than two years in the mak­ing, the new Alaska Air­lines uni­form by de­signer Luly Yang de­buted in Jan­uary at a fash­ion show at the com­pany’s Sea-Tac hangar. The re­freshed look, which takes styling cues from the sleek uni­forms of Vir­gin Amer­ica, fol­lows the merger of the two air­lines in 2016.

The new col­lec­tion will be worn by the 19,000 em­ploy­ees of Alaska, Vir­gin Amer­ica and Hori­zon Air, in­clud­ing flight crew and at­ten­dants. Among the de­sign fea­tures, the col­lec­tion can be lay­ered to al­low em­ploy­ees to ad­just for com­fort while work­ing in both freez­ing and trop­i­cal tem­per­a­tures. Trav­el­ers look­ing for­ward to see­ing the new uni­forms will have to be pa­tient, how­ever; the roll-out is not ex­pected to start un­til late in 2019. alaskaair.com

MAIN IM­AGE: Hainan Air­lines

FROM TOP:

Eva Air, Delta Air Lines

FROM TOP:

Air Canada, Scoot, United Air­lines

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