Every year, when I start to compile our ‘Style In The Aisles – Top Ten Cabin Crew Uniforms’ I ask my lovely followers across Confessions of a Trolley Dolly social media which airlines they think should feature in this years top ten.
Year after year, it gets harder to narrow down our list to just a top ten. Airlines across the globe are dressing their flight attendants in some stunning and iconic uniforms, and 2018 is no exception.
So sit back, relax and enjoy our mile high look at the best cabin crew couture from 2018.
In 2015 it was announced that New York designer Zac Posen had been chosen to update the, already stylish Delta Airlines uniform.
“I wanted to bring glamour back to the runway and to 30,000 feet” Posen told the worlds media when the new ensemble was finally unveiled at a lavish fashion show held at the Wallis Annenberg Center in L.A. on May 29 2018. “When Delta approached me with this opportunity I could not say no, it was such an incredible challenge to dress 64,000 employees for an iconic American airline. I have always loved flying and it was great to be able to share my love of aviation and fashion,” and he certainly didn’t disappoint.
Designed by Posen and created by Lands’ End the collaboration is the first overhaul of Delta apparel since 2006.
Posen went straight to the source to create the new look, with his team attending 80 employee focus groups before making more than 150 changes to the new outfits based on feedback. Employees tested early iterations of the garments, providing honest feedback about things like whether the skirts hiked up too far when they were sitting down, or if the sleeves pilled when the inner arm rubbed against the torso. The designer himself spent months shadowing employees throughout the company, to identify how to make the clothes as functional and high-performing as possible.
The hardest task, he says, was trying to respond to angry customers at the airport check-in desk. “It’s such a high-stress environment, with people feeling anxiety and time pressure,” he says. “It just reinforced to me that part of making a garment functional is ensuring that the employee feels dignified in it. We want these uniforms to command respect.”
Many of the new garments include nods to travel, such as the collar on female blouses, inspired by an aeroplane wing, while other pieces include thoughtful details as passport and pen pockets. There is a total of three different collections and themes: Fly Me to the Moon, Shaping the Sky and Glamour Take Off.
The most noticeable change, however, is the colour palette. Like most US carriers, Delta has stuck with navy and red since 1983. Now, in an attempt to stand out from the crowd, it’s adding a regal ‘Passport Plum’ to “flatter every skin tone,” as well as ‘Cruising Cardinal’, ‘Groundspeed Graphite’, ‘Traveling Thistle’ and ‘Skyline Slate’.
Posen says that the plum colour came about by accident. When he and his team were experimenting with colours, they had the idea to combine red and blue, and they chanced upon this particular shade of purple that happens to pair nicely with Delta’s previous colours.
“We all fell in love with this shade,” he says. “It seemed to be an evolution of the brand’s identity, and communicated this idea of unity and integration that is core to what Delta stands for.”
“We think these new uniforms look more global,” says Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO. “It was hard to identify Delta employees before but we want our people to be instantly recognisable.”
Every Delta employee receives between three and five standard-issue garments, with the option of purchasing more. In addition to the core pieces, Posen designed sunglasses and leather handbags, wool coats for cold weather, and maternity outfits, to give employees a complete look. Delta also partnered with Atlanta-based shapewear brand Spanx to provide the female employees with compression undergarments, and male and female flight attendants will also receive compression socks.
“Before I started designing, I studied the history of airline uniform design, starting, of course, with the famous Braniff uniforms,” Posen continued. He wants his uniforms to stand the test of time, although expects to provide minor updates in the years to come. He’s included stylish details, like asymmetrical necklines on blouses and a red trim on a shift dress, but he was ultimately going for a classic look that is consistent with Delta’s previous look.
The real magic, he says, has everything to do with what’s under the surface. Posen says his team focused on using the latest high-performing materials to ensure that the clothes live up to the work that Delta employees do every day. The textiles themselves are high-tech. The fabrics are breathable, anti-microbial, and moisture-wicking, to keep employees cool through long hours on the job. The clothes are stretchy and wrinkle-resistant, so they look polished at the end of the day. They are also machine washable. Much of this mirrors what is happening across the fashion industry, particularly in the world of workwear, where functional elements are incorporated into elegant clothes.
Norwegians long-haul uniform is frequently voted as one of the worlds most stylish and with a chequered blazer as gorgeous as that I can see why.
The ensemble was designed by the quirky and hip Norwegian clothing brand Moods Of Norway in May 2013.
Male cabin crew wear the stunning blue chequered blazer and matching waistcoats, along with white shirts and blue ties; while female cabin crew wear elegantly designed blue dresses, cardigans, blouses and stylish hats, scarves and gloves, all with a cheeky twist and subtle and elegant Norwegian branding.
Moods of Norway’s was founded by Simen Staalnacke, Peder Børresen and Stefan Dahlkvist. The trio’s main goal “besides making their grandmas happy, is to make clothes for happy people around the world.”
In keeping with that sentiment, uniforms carry tags such as ‘Made Just for You by Tall Blond Hunky Guys’, ‘coffee or tea’ embroidered on jacket sleeves and ‘come fly with me’ on the inside of the jacket collar, plus trims that read ‘Happy Clothes for Happy Crew.’ Flight attendants also have scarves and jacket linings with whimsical illustrations of rolling hills, farm animals, skyscrapers and a terminal with a ‘Super Duper Airport’ sign. Male staffers will wear socks imprinted with ‘Remember: toothbrush. Be on time. Buckle up’ and other travel tips.
Commenting on the collaboration, the Moods of Norway designers said at the time, “It’s a great honour to put our signature on Norwegians new international flights with our ‘happy clothes for happy crew’. We want to recreate some of the glamour and style from the golden airline era in the 60s, and at the same time add some of the characteristic, joyful Moods of Norway design through details and colours.”
Norwegian CEO, Bjørn Kjos said, “The design is funny and modern, and Moods of Norway has, similar to us, gone abroad to an international market, and we both see the significance of branding ourselves in a way that stands out.”
And stand out it does.
Hawaiian Airlines, unveiled new uniforms for more than 5,000 front-line employees including Airport Customer Service, Cabin Service, Cargo, In-Flight, Line Service, Maintenance, Ramp, and Supply, on November 11, 2016 at the airline’s ‘Runway to Runway’ fashion show during Honolulu Fashion Week Presented by Hawaiian Airlines at the Hawaii Convention Centre.
The new designs are a collaboration between Affinity Apparel, renowned Hilo-based design firm Sig Zane Kaiao and a committee of 40 front-line Hawaiian employees representing a variety of job functions, commissioned to give the airline’s threads a modern makeover with traditional roots.
The main feature of the new uniform is the stunning print. The print’s theme, ‘Kū Mākou’ or ‘Together We Stand’, was inspired following sessions between designers and committee members.
“Kū Mākou means we stand together as one – one family, one team, one movement together,” said Sig Zane. “It’s an honour to embark on this journey with Hawaiian Airlines as they enter a new chapter of unifying the company with a common thread.”
The print’s ‘Lehua Blossom’ (a native Hawaiian plant with many culturally symbolic meanings that is often used as adornments in hula or other ceremonies) and ‘Ohe Kapala’ (bamboo stamps encompassing intricate designs often used to create repetitive patterns in traditional kapa decoration) comprise a design story which is carried through every piece of uniform, applied in different scales and tonalities to prints, linings and woven elements. “The lehua truly is the symbol of the Hawaiian people,” Sig Zane said. “In all of our legends, myths and chants, the lehua is strong and prominent.”
“It was very important for us to create something that would represent Hawai‘i wherever we fly,” said Avi Mannis, senior vice president of marketing at Hawaiian Airlines. “Our committee and designers spent countless hours contributing their ideas and values, and we’re excited to share that with our guests from around the world.”
Colours incorporate the distinctive purple associated with Hawaiian Airlines as well as the pacific blue of the current uniforms, which have been in place since 2008.
In keeping with Hawaiian’s unique design practice, the uniform design marries cultural tradition with bold contemporary lines and cutting edge, high-performance materials. Affinity Apparel worked with the uniform committee closely to understand employees’ work needs and pick high-performance materials to complement each uniform piece.
“We were honoured to work alongside talented designers and passionate employees to outfit Hawaiian’s front-line staff with fashionable and functional garments,” said Marcia Hischke, vice president of product development at Affinity Apparel.
By combining sharp suiting details with bright prints, Zane’s team may have achieved just that: a contemporary take on ancient heritage.
And as for that Cape! Well it’s simple stunning with many of the crew saying it makes them feel like Beyoncé.
ANA All Nippon Airways
To coincide with the airlines 60th anniversary, ANA All Nippon Airways, unveiled its new flight attendant and customer service uniforms on April 24, 2014, created by New York fashion designer Prabal Gurung.
The new apparel marked the 10th generation of ANA uniforms and was the first to be created by a foreign designer. Featuring a combination of light grey jackets and charcoal skirts and pants, enriched with eye-catching accents of ANA’s trademark blue, the uniform reflects the airlines clean, modern and minimalist brand aesthetic.
To differentiate each of the uniforms, Gurung created brightly coloured scarves and aprons that feature modern Japanese flower patterns, a nod to the airlines Japanese heritage and innovative brand and service outlook. A light grey jacket is worn over a light blue or pink blouse and charcoal skirt. Different coloured scarves and aprons featuring Japanese flower patterns differentiate the flight attendants according to their seniority. And while the uniform cuts are slightly boxy, the designs are inherently Japanese.
“ANA pays such close attention to detail and I wanted to celebrate this throughout the designs,” said Gurung. “My objective was a balance of elegance and timelessness with a modern, fresh appeal. It was also important to communicate ANA’s innovative approach while ensuring the crew members’ could express their individuality while representing the brand well.”
“I’m very proud of these beautifully designed uniforms produced with Mr. Gurung”, said ANA President and CEO Osamu Shinobe. “As a global, full service carrier, our hope is to present a rejuvenated and energetic image through these uniforms.”
ANA, which started its operation in 1958, is the largest airline in Japan. In 2017, it came in 3rd under the Top Ten Airlines award and 2nd for World’s Best Cabin Staff award.
A controversial choice but it’s fair to say that Asiana Airlines flight attendants have one of the most stylish uniforms today, with its military design harking back to the style of the worlds very first flight attendants.
While it may be one of the most stylish, Asiana Airlines also has one of the strictest uniform regulations in the industry. No glasses when wearing uniform, no more than two bobby pins in your hair, manicured nails at all times and no trousers, only skirts.
And it was this last regulation that made a number of the airlines crew to stand up and fight back in 2012. The Asiana flight attendants’ union filed a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission for outdated restrictions regarding uniforms and appearances.
“There are many cases when we have to stand up and sit down in front of our passengers which makes it not only uncomfortable, but sometimes dangerous,” an Asiana flight attendant said. “I hate wearing manicures all the time. They make my nails weaker and they break,” said another.
For Kweon Soo-jeong, head of the union and a veteran flight attendant, it’s not simply about asking for comfortable pants. It’s about the safety of passengers and flight attendants, and about their right to choose.
“We understand that we have a certain image to pursue, but we believe that the most important function of our uniform is to assist our passengers,” Kweon said. “We are not arguing to get rid of skirts altogether, but to give us the chance to choose and update outdated regulations.”
“The uniform was designed based on hanbok, Korean traditional dress — women didn’t wear pants traditionally when they wore hanbok,” Min Man-ki of Asiana Airlines said. “The regulations are simply guidelines that should be followed when wearing our uniform. The flight attendants won’t be punished or barred from promotion if they don’t. I mean, we cannot expect flight attendants to wear track suits and sneakers just for safety,” he added.
Despite the change in dress code, many crew decided not to opt for the pants option, fearing a negative evaluation on their internal performance record
For the female crew, a diagonal striped mock-turtleneck 3/4 sleeved top with a back invisible zipper and gold buckle closure is worn under a smart military style jacket, completed with scarf and pill box hat.
For the boys a smart three-piece suit is complemented with a company coloured patterned tie and crisp white shirt.
The airlines uniform became famous the world over when Asiana Airlines flight 214 crashed at San Francisco International Airport. The real heroines of the crash were the incredible flight attendants, led by cabin manager Lee Yoon-Hye and you can read more about their incredible bravery here.
Regularly featured amongst the world’s most stylish uniforms, China Eastern Airlines outfit was designed by Christian Lacroix to be “simple, beautiful and dignified” – a fusion of an elegant oriental style and Shanghai style fashion.
First unveiled to the world in May 2013, at a lavish ceremony in Shanghai, the uniform is made up of crisp European lines and Parisian influences, hence the similar look to the stunning Air France uniform featured in our Style In The Aisles – The Top Ten Cabin Crew Uniforms 2014.
The bywords for the new apparel was “simple, beautiful and dignified”, says China Eastern, with the new look showcasing cosmopolitan ‘Shanghai-style fashion’.
Lacroix has gone for navy blue with red accessories featuring trim pencil-thin slit skirts, paired with a shirt with abbreviated sleeves cut just past the elbow, or a sharp V-neck dress, belted above the hips with a wide bright red belt punctuated in the middle by an oversized roundel. Gorgeous pattered scarves are paired with a playful beret-like hat.
China Eastern’s pilots have a far more traditional look, while variations on the new uniform will also be issued to ground services and other front-line employees.
Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America have already featured in our Style In The Aisles lists, so it seemed only fair that the stunning Virgin Australia uniform was included in this years Top Ten.
Designed by Project Runway Australia winner Juli Grbac, the new 60’s inspired apparel was launched in 2011 and has received numerous plaudits since its launch.
“I took inspiration from the glamour of flying in the 1960s, and gave it a contemporary edge” Grbac said. Juli had been invited to pitch for the uniform re-design back in 2010 and instantly won over the airlines team – famously telling Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson that the patent red shoes were “tacky”.
Just seven months later, the new Virgin Australia uniform wardrobe of over 200 individual pieces debuted on the first VA flight to Abu Dhabi in 2011. With such a tight timeframe, there were many challenges for Grbac and her team, for starters, designing a flattering uniform for sizes six to 33 with pieces that would not only clothe the cabin crew, but all the support staff as well.
Each piece has the designer’s attention to detail, with practical accommodations such as sleeve slits in the red dress to allow flight attendants to stow luggage in the overhead lockers with ease and ventilation panels for the pit crew vests to aesthetic details such as extra seams in the women’s jacket to accentuate the waist.
In January 2016 a further update was made to the uniform, when the airline revealed a sophisticated new look for its senior cabin crew members.
For senior female cabin crew, the new uniform includes a charcoal version of the red dress, pants and one-button suit jacket options, worn with the airline’s existing dark purple and red scarf, and a newly designed red waist belt.
For senior male crew, the new uniform is a black and charcoal variation of the existing male uniform (single-breasted suit jacket and vest), worn with a black shirt and the existing dark purple tie. The men’s suit jackets and vest will feature purple lining like the existing uniforms.
Ground crew members however wear a red and purple scarf, with the ground supervisors wearing a charcoal scarf.
There’s even a subtle difference in the badges – charcoal for Cabin Supervisors and Guest Services Supervisors, and purple for Cabin Crew and Guest Services team members.
Even today, Juli has still has ‘pinch-me’ moments when she sees her designs on the billboard on the way to the airport. “I probably get more excitement when I actually see the girls wearing it. They all love the red dress. And with the purple scarf it’s just so striking. I’ve had great feedback, it’s been amazing.”
On August 24, 2017, Taiwanese carrier EVA Air unveiled its stunning new staff uniforms, created by fashion house Shiatzy Chen.
Replacing the uniforms originally introduced in 2003, the new outfits were showcased at a special retirement ceremony for the carriers Boeing 747-400 aircraft.
EVA Air planned the catwalk presentation to be much more than just a fashion show; rather an active demonstration of each uniforms design, functionality and versatility. Dancers joined ground staff on the catwalk for an enthusiastic representation of their passion for service excellence. Cabin crew presented their new uniforms in a smooth display of the teamwork it takes for perfect flights.
Speaking at the event the airlines chairman Steve Lin said “As we bid farewell to our ‘Queen of the Skies’ and her remarkable service, we welcome our new service image and our third generation of uniforms. Designed for style, comfort and function, these uniforms will further enhance the professional image of our service team among passengers and in the international market place”
The new uniform was rolled out in November following two years of development. The design team at EVA Air has said that their uniforms ‘signify much more than appropriate work attire’. EVA’s philosophy is that the moment its service staff puts on their uniform, they mark the beginning of their career as a professional team member.
A design team from Shiatzy Chen, known in many circles as the Chanel of Taiwan, visited airports to observe staff at check-in counters and VIP lounges, in order to understand their requirements. They also put designers on flights to understand the demands of the carriers exceptional cabin service; before having conversations with senior management and service staff to give them an understanding of Eva Air’s concept of inflight service.
As well as comfort, versatility and functionality, EVA Air has also incorporated style and fashion in to these new designs. Inspired by the classic Audrey Hepburn movie ‘Roman Holiday’, the designer used colour blocks, geometric patterns and streamlined shapes to create a professional attire with classic style. The designer chose verdelite for the uniforms base colour.
For the female crew, key features include standing collars, conveying the idea of flying through the sky, with different colours to distinguish team members ranks – red collars distinguish chief pursers, pink represent deputy pursers and light green for flight attendants. Scarves set the new uniform apart, with the colourful pattern seen below inspired by the steady growth of trees.
Male flight attendants uniform is inspired by a three-piece business suit with aircraft wings formed by green and orange dots. This stands out against the background of the uniforms black ties, capturing the idea of EVA’s global network. Vests feature pockets where service staff can keep pens and notebooks at their fingertips.
The airline also commissioned a fabric supplier to develop a high-performance material that blends elastic and anti-static carbon fibre yarns. The speciality fabric is quick drying and moisture absorbent, while retaining such characteristics as flexibility and high breathability so that service staff can move and work comfortably in addition to looking and feeling good.
While they may not be one of the worlds most recognisable carriers, Corendon Airlines has been around since 2005, serving European holiday destinations from bases in Turkey and Holland.
To reflect the leisure oriented business of the airline in 2015 the carrier updated its livery with a ‘new, everlasting, playful and more holiday reflecting logo’ and also decided to update the uniforms that its crew would wear come the 2016 season.
Designed by the well known Dutch fashion designer Bas Van Wayenburg, the uniform is produced from quality fabrics and to enhance the comfort for the crew, with nano technology applied. During the course of the design special attention was given to simplicity, dynamics and a modern charisma.
The uniforms consist of a shirt/blouse, jacket, vest and trouser/skirt. The new Corendon logo colours, red, blue and yellow, appear in the design of the shawl and tie and they add colour and dynamic to the uniforms.
The airlines employs a total of 240 cabin crew – 180 ladies and 60 gentlemen.
Back in February 2017 Air Canada unveiled its dapper new charcoal grey and black with red accents uniform, created by Vancouver based contemporary fashion designer Christopher Bates.
Bates applied his signature approach to modernising classic pieces through fit, colour, fabric and clever details with the new outfits combining an international flair with timeless style.
“I take classic style and modernise it by focusing on the fabric, colour, and texture but also more specific features like kissing buttons on jacket sleeves, unique stitching and seaming,” said Bates. “As brand ambassadors who travel around the world it is important that Air Canada employees feel stylish, confident and comfortable in their uniforms as they take care of millions of customers every year.”
Using fine, long-lasting materials – from 100% silk and 100% wool suiting to soft leather – the refreshed look for employees balances compelling visual aesthetics with functionality, comfort and durability. Every element was designed with safety and style in mind, and colours have been chosen to complement the new livery.
Made with 100% long-lasting wool materials and fine silk, flight attendant and airport agent suits are sophisticated charcoal grey with tasteful accents in Canadian red including the famous Air Canada Rondelle. A crisp white shirt will be accessorised with vibrant ties and scarves.
The colour-palette, fabrics and details are consistent piece to piece, uniform to uniform. This is particularly important for flight attendants who will appreciate the ability to layer and mix and match pieces comfortably and confidently.
The outer-wear is climate appropriate for a Canadian winter from coast to coast. The coat is water-resistant and features a removable quilted liner and removable hood. The outer-wear has been designed to be worn both on and off-duty so employees can travel light.
Pilot uniforms embrace the classic style of traditional aviation. The look is anchored by a formal double-breasted blazer that features peak lapels, a modern 2×2 button stance, and tasteful antique gold trim.
Meanwhile, Air Canada’s world-renowned concierges’ uniforms will consist of exclusive styled suits made of black wool with a twill weave with Canadian red accents, white shirts and black coats.
The carriers ground workers, which includes station attendants, cargo agents, baggage handlers, the pieces are made with durable, comfortable fabrics the work-wear uniforms ensure that, even in the toughest of environments employees are comfortable yet stylish. Innovative elements such as the polo (golf shirt) the webbed belt and the bonded jacket will ensure Air Canada work-wear employees are the best dressed in the industry. All the tops in the new collection prominently display the Air Canada Rondelle.
So there we have it, our 2018 Top Ten uniforms. What do you think? And who would you like to see on next years list? Pop your thoughts in the comments below.
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