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Higher Fashion – Part 1 of 5

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 double-breasted 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.

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.

Tomorrow we will look at two additional airlines.