2020 had looked set to be a big year for flight attendant fashion with numerous airlines planning to launch brand new looks for its cabin crew.
After already unveiling new uniforms for Aer Lingus, by Louise Kennedy and Iberia, by Teresa Helbig – International Airlines Group (IAG) member British Airways was set to launch its brand new Oswald Boetang designed apparel in the summer.
Meanwhile, across the pond American Airlines unveiled its redesigned uniforms and Delta Airlines announced that they would be scrapping their Zac Posen designed apparel, after both carriers staff began suffering with numerous health issues following the introduction of their new looks.
But then the Coronavirus pandemic brought the whole aviation industry to a grinding halt. As airlines desperately tried to cut costs and preserve cash, new uniforms for its staff became the least of their worries.
Some airlines did however decide to revamp, albeit temporarily, their uniforms with some ‘corona-couture’ incorporating full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to its apparel to protect its staff and passengers, more on that later.
Despite these setbacks, there’s still some gorgeous flight attendant fashion out there and, as we have been doing since 2014, we’re here to count down our top ten crew uniforms for 2020!
When Japan Airlines (JAL) launched a new subsidiary ‘ZIPAIR’ in April 2019 many were intrigued to see how the prestigious Japanese flag carrier would handle launching a low-cost airline. But all eyes were turned at the unveiling of the new carrier brand, livery and uber-fashionable crew uniforms.
Designed by Taro Horiuchi founder of the fashion house by the same name, the outfits have been designed based on the concept of ‘coordination and unity.’
Pieces come in a number of slightly different designs that allow members of the cabin crew and ground staff to coordinate different aspects of the uniform depending on the work they will be doing, as well as weather and mood. In particular, this includes the use of trainers as footwear for the uniform in order to prioritise ‘ease of movement and reduction of fatigue’.
The mens attire is a more or less a conventional suit, while the women’s uniform comprises long coats or vests, jackets, a blouse and a neck scarf. The designs are a largely monochrome black and white colour scheme, with a bit of green on the women’s neck scarves otherwise being the only dash colour in keeping with the airlines livery.
Taking to the skies in January 1991, Air Dolomiti, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lufthansa, is an Italian regional airline based in Verona and in June 2013 the carrier presented its new collection of uniform pieces for its staff.
Designed by Laura Strambi, renowned fashion designer and Director of the ‘Laura Strambi – Yoj di Milano’ line, the uniform is distinguished by its ‘elegance, refinedness and careful choice of fabrics.’ Laura Strambi infused the new uniforms with her delicate taste and unmistakeable style, creating clothing items with a sharp, elegant and modern design.
The uniform pieces, in turquoise and grey – the corporate colours of the airline – are created using natural materials to ‘guarantee comfort and easy movement.’ Pieces include a tailored jacket, skirt and sleek trousers, all made from pure stretch wool. New items to the uniform collection include the down jacket – created with wool finishes, and the waterproof cotton trench.
Indian airline Vistara commenced operations in January 2015 and from the outset it planned to compete with flag-carrier Air India, with a premium full-service offering to cater for the demands of high-end business travellers in a market dominated by low-cost airlines.
Indian-based design duo Abraham & Thakore created the debut uniform with the fashion-forward pair using a plum coloured, silk-like fabric, patterned with the airline’s logo, to create a lightweight trouser suit. A light blue “V” (for Vistara) shaped-collar adds a flash of colour.
Designed to ‘visually and functionally complement Vistara’s unique, eye-catching, and practical branding’ female crew will wear a one-piece dress while male flight crew wear a light lavender coloured shirt, along with midnight blue tailored fitted trousers and a classic, sleeveless mandarin-collar jacket. Adding a dash of colour to the elegant dress is a yellow gold pocket square.
With nods to the airline Asian heritage, its clever, attractive design remains simple with clean lines while the bright colour and cleverly incorporated logo ensure the uniform stands out and promote a strong brand identity.
In 2018 the airline launched the ‘Vistara Retro jet’ – a tribute to the 1940s Indian carrier Tata Air Lines created by JRD Tata the father of Indian Aviation and founder of Tata Sons co-owner of Vistara. A number of its crew were also put in to a classic retro uniform.
In 2018 Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus announced that they would be teaming once again with Irish designer Louise Kennedy to redesign their iconic ‘teal green’ uniforms that had graced the skies for over 20 years.
The stylish update, which coincided with a refresh to the airlines livery, signalled the introduction of trousers for female crew for the first time in the Aer Lingus’ history and a dress for only the second time. Crew could also go a bit lighter on the make-up as part of updated grooming standards.
Green remains the signature colour, now in a shade called ‘Kenmare Green’ for the classic and contemporary look which consists of 25 pieces, giving crew and ground staff a greater variety of styles to choose. This includes for the male crew a new jacket and coat in a smart navy colour, replacing the old flannel jackets and grey trousers, with easy care blue shirts and clip on ties.
For female crew, jackets with three quarter length sleeves, skirts, navy tops and cardigans, and a navy hooded showerproof coat have all been introduced. Accessories include a chain handle navy tote, navy leather shoes with patent toes, ballerina flats for on board and a necktie with shamrock motifs.
Speaking at the time about the new apparel, Kennedy said: “We were honoured to be chosen to design the new Aer Lingus uniform. The brief from the airline was very clear and we were confident we could deliver a modern and stylish capsule collection which would endure for several years”.
It took the Spanish flag-carrier 18 months to do it but in February 2020, on the last day of Mercedes Benz fashion week in Madrid, Iberia FINALLY revealed its highly anticipated new uniform and boy was it worth the wait.
Through the airlines history six national designers have been tasked with dressing Iberia’s staff – Pedro Rodríguez, known internationally for his haute couture designs, Manuel Pertegaz, Manuel Elio Berhanyer , Alfredo Caral and in more recent years, Adolfo Domínguez.
The mammoth task of creating this contemporary new look was down to Teresa Heblig, selected from among 30 candidates and becoming the first female designer in history to create a uniform for the airlines 6,500 staff.
20 different pieces have been designed which will create more than 30 looks which are comfortable, practical and flattering for female crew.
Designed to create a “Very current, serene, formal wardrobe”, the Catalan designer says a lot of work focused on the accessories such as oversized scarves, cross body satchels and bright red leather gloves to create a more “distinguished look” to the uniform.
“We have imagined dresses that we would like to wear on the street every day; there is a reinterpretation of the iconic tube skirt suit and we have also given a lot of importance to the accessories,” Helbig said of the designs.
While navy blue is the dominant colour in the designs, there are pops of red that ‘Embodies passion, dedication and vitality.’ Yellow was also introduced not only because it’s a classic Iberia colour but because its ‘Stimulating, young and energetic,’ explained Helbig. Other elements, such as winter overcoat were also designed in a much more unisex fashion.
Iberia’s new look is part of its #Talentoabordo project, which aims to support national talents under the airline’s commitment to value and internationalise Spanish culture.
Iberia was in dire need of a uniform update and while the old outfit was smart and functional this new look is one of the most stylish, fashion-forward and relevant uniforms of any airline at the moment.
Iberia Express began flying in March 2012 to take over loss-making routes operated by its mainline parent.
In November 2016 the airline introduced some stylish new apparel for its staff in collaboration with Spanish fashion house El Ganso designed to ‘reflect Iberia’s unique approach to business and lifestyle.’
“Uniforms are one of the most representative symbols of an airline,” said El Ganso Co-founder Clemente Cebrián to EFE.
“The outfits are designed and manufactured with high quality fabrics in Spain and Portugal, and draw inspiration from the companies’ corporate colours: gold, red and navy blue,” Cebrián continued.
For female staff, El Ganso created a navy blue military coat finished with cuffs and collar in a vibrant red colour, paired with chino trousers, a cotton jumper, fitted shirt and a bright red scarf. The collection also includes a dress with colour-blocked panels crafted in an A-line shape.
The men’s collection includes a similar blue navy coat with colour details, black jacket, cotton jumper, striped ties, a white shirt and smart, high-waisted trousers.
It had been 25 years since American Airlines unveiled a new uniform, so to say that the rollout of a new look back in September 2016 was ridiculously overdue is an understatement. There was much excitement amongst its staff but sadly this excitement was short lived, as crew soon began suffering from various health conditions associated with the new apparel including hives, rashes and breathing difficulties.
Much toing and froing ensued between the airline and its staff before American finally acknowledged the issue and agreed to rollout a new uniform.
The process began back in June 2017 and with inputs from unions and staff, the updated garments were tested by over 1,000 employees to ensure that the new look would be totally safe for its employees. Pilot uniforms, manufactured by M&H were rolled out in 2019 but it would be another 12 months before flight attendants would be able to step out in their new threads.
Manufactured by Lands’ End, the new apparel comes in a blue colour scheme which is a shift away from the grey hues used in the previous design. Crew are also able to chose between a standard wool-blend fabric and a synthetic fabric, a first for any U.S. airline.
Pieces for the ladies include an A-Line skirt or slim/straight fit trousers, long or short-sleeve blouses and dresses with a plaid-style design in a blue and grey pattern. For the gents a smart tailored blazer is paired with slim or traditional fit trousers and long or short sleeved shirts.
American said all of the new garments meet STANDARD 100 certification by OEKO-TEX, an independent organisation that guarantees the quality of textiles.
Austrian Airlines latest reincarnation – of a uniform first introduced back in 1996 – was created by Austrian designer Marina Hoermanseder, who fought off some stiff competition from numerous other top designers for the coveted task.
The airlines iconic red uniforms were created to represent Austria as a country – ‘For warmth, for home’ and really makes the Austrian crew stand out around the world.
Hoermanseder’s designs were introduced in 2016 and speaking at the time the designer said: “Creating the design for the Austrian Airlines uniform was a very exciting task for me, and as an Austrian gave me a great deal of joy. In any case, I wanted to retain the bright red of Austrian Airlines because it gives the crew members a strong appearance.”
Each new piece, such as the coat, vest or dress, was first tested in a laboratory and then intensively washed and tested before being added to the uniform collection.
For the boys a statement red jacket is paired with a crisp white shirt, black trousers and shoes and a smart silver tie. Meanwhile the girls made the decision to retain the red tights and shoes and this is partnered with a fitted jacket and pillbox hat.
Despite a global pandemic gripping the globe, Saudia Arabian Airlines debuted its new uniform in February 2020 on its flagship routes to London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle.
The carrier last updated its uniform in 2012 for the men and 2014 for the ladies and the new designs, which have been 18 months in the making, were created using inspiration from the nation’s culture and landscapes, encompassing the heritage, colours and identity of Saudi Arabia.
Created by a team of designers and product specialists within the airline, the uniform pieces feature shades of purple, beige, gold and royal blue, with Arabesque accents. They are made from mixed poly-wool and elastane. Accessories including name badges, cuff links, belts, hats, pins, shoes and travel bags have also been redesigned.
The plan is (or at least was) to roll out the uniform across the carriers other routes during 2021. The new uniform and overall look of the cabin crew is part of Saudia’s cabin enhancements and hospitality features, and a reflection of the airline’s global expansion in recent years. “Guests have been warmly receptive to the recent changes and the cosmopolitan, hospitable nature of the onboard service,” according to a statement.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)
Despite its recent problems, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was once one of the worlds leading airlines and tasked legendary French designer Pierre Cardin with redesigning its new cabin crew uniforms back in 1966. Fast-forward to March 2015 and the airline decided to combine the creations of 16 of Pakistans top designers to get its new look.
A unique fashion event was held, with a business-class styled red carpet area, during which designers showcased their individual designs before the final looks being chosen. The night was described as an evening of “patriotism and nostalgia with designers reminiscing about their experiences on PIA and clearly excited about putting together a fresh look for the national carrier.”
The fashion presentation ended with models wearing the various PIA uniforms that air hostesses have worn over the years, which was an interesting glimpse into history.
The winners were then announced, with Pakistani designers Sania Maskatiya being chosen for the cap and scarf, Nomi Ansari for the rest of the uniform, Yasmeen Shaikh for the coat and Omer Farooq for the mens uniform.
And check out some of the fabulous creations put together by the 16 Pakistani designers (images from dawn.com)
In order to protect their cabin crew from COVID-19 a number of cabin crew began turning to designers to create “stylish” uniforms that integrated personal protective equipment (PPE)
Low cost carrier Air Asia launched a special new protective uniform for its cabin crew on April 24, 2020, designed by Filipino fashion designer Puey Quinones.
The uniform, created to protect its crew by covering them head to toe includes long sleeves, a visor, a medical mask and a hood.
“When people/passengers see the Air Asia design, they will be reminded that yes they are safe, their health is taken care of and Air Asia cares for you all,” Quiñones said in a statement to Business Insider.
Philippine Airlines also added PPE integrated uniforms designed by another Filipino fashionista Edwin Tan. The uniforms incorporate the color of the country’s flag, which is also the basis of Philippine Airlines’ tail design on its aircraft.
Etihad introduced its PPE uniform in June 2020 and went a step further by introducing specially trained Wellness Ambassadors, a first in the industry, who provide essential travel health information and care so guests can fly with greater peace of mind.
Thai Airways, Qatar Airways and Emirates also added full length PPE to their cabin crew uniforms during the airlines repatriation flights at the start of the pandemic.
Most carriers only used these uniforms during their international repatriation and rescue flights and returned to their normal outfits once normal flights resumed.
So there we have it folks, our look at the best uniforms of 2020.
Which one is your favourite? Tell us in the comments below.
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