The airline industry is a very competitive one with different air carriers all fighting to stand out and attract you to them. Airlines try to create a brand identity making it easy to recognise them and what they stand for. Some ways they do this are their liveries (the paint scheme of the aircraft), cabin and lounge interiors, corporate branding and more. One key way all airlines try to create one synonymous brand that everyone will notice is how they dress their staff. Some airlines are able to do this successfully and make their crew look like they stepping off the runways of Paris fashion week and stepping onto the runways of Paris Charles de Gaulle. Find out which airlines we think are the best dressed in the skies.
A few years ago Emirati based Etihad Airways launched their ‘Flying Reimagined’ campaign where they totally overhauled the airline elevating it into a super-premium class. Not only were the passengers lucky to feel the positive effects of this but so were the crew. The airline re-employed Italian designer Ettore Bilotta, who had already designed the uniforms for the airline. Bilotta chose a refined colour palette with hints of orange, purple and greens to add subtle but effective pops of colour. Etihad staff will be seen wearing brown suits, blazers and skirts with patterned shirts and scarfs, with the women adorned by beret styled fascinators. The new uniforms although modern share similar style designs to the 1960s, making Etihad crew effortlessly stylish and one of the best dressed.
The colour red is often synonymous with luck, joy and happiness, something you may experience when travelling with Cathay Pacific. The Hong Kong-based airline has heavily incorporated this colour into their crew uniforms and has done an amazing job. Local designer Eddie Lau had previously designed the airline's uniforms in 1999 and was hired to bring Cathay into a modern era. Female flight attendants can be seen wearing red blazers and skirts with a traditional Cathay brushstroke motif shirt with a gold broach. The male crew are supplied with a brown blazer and waistcoat as well as black suit trousers and the same gold Cathay broach. Both the blazers for male and female staff have received an Asian inspired design incorporating eastern cuts, varying from their western counterparts. Cathay staff look both professional and sleek with the design from Lau.
Virgin is synonymous with being a playful, cool and vibrant airline, known for red and its iconic red uniforms. If you haven't seen their ‘25 Years, Still Red Hot’ television commercial, I suggest you do to get a feel for how the airline markets itself! To remain ‘Red Hot’ the airline employed world-renowned designer Vivienne Westwood to overhaul the uniforms. Westwood created uniforms in the staple Virgin Red for female staff helping to shape an hourglass figure while allowing staff to express themselves. For the male crew, a toned-down burgundy colour scheme has been used for the suits which equally look as impressive. Not only do the Virgin uniforms look stylish but they are also sustainable, being made with polyester from recycled bottles.
Often airlines are viewed as boring, conservative and practical with their designs, often keeping crew uniforms in black, navy or grey. Rarely does an airline comes along shattering this and creating a revolutionary design. Although the majority of the colour scheme is grey Hainan Airlines is certainly not your typical grey airline. The airline partnered with Laurence Xu to create their latest uniform which incorporates numerous touches of Chinese tradition and culture. Xu takes inspiration from the traditional Cheongsam dress but adds touches of western culture by pairing these dresses with coats and capes. It seems that all of the best airline staff are seen wearing fascinators, and Hainan joins this club by offering staff grey, blue or purple patterned ones. Male staff are treated to a grey suit cut in traditional Chinese style rather than a typical western blazer. Hainan Airline’s latest airline is certainly one you will notice in the terminal.
Similar to Etihad Airways, Turkish Airlines also commissioned Ettore Bilotta to design their latest uniforms. Bilotta took inspiration from the flow of the Bosphorus straight, creating waves in the patterns and designs seen on the uniforms. The design of the new uniform sees female staff in a rich red dress, they can also choose from a red blazer with a grey skirt or trousers. Bilotta incorporates the same flow of the Bosphorus design into the dresses, skirts and trousers making it a unique and eye-catching uniform. Similar to his Etihad design female crew are also adorned with a grey fascinator which can be removed during flight. For male flight attendants, Bilotta has crafted a dark grey suit mirroring the same piping as seen on the female blazers, sharing design elements.
LATAM, a merger of LAN and TAM saw a whole new corporate identity created, including uniforms. The colours used by the airline include shades of indigo and coral. The airline hired Brazillian designer Pedro Lourenço to create the uniforms after speaking with staff to learn what they want from a uniform. Lourenço has created a very futuristic uniform that doesn't typically fit the traditional styles and culture of Latin America. The uniform looks like it could have come from a science fiction movie set far into the future. However, the uniform is very well designed and breaks the mould of a typical airline uniform. The airline’s female staff are adorned with an indigo jacket with coral piping on the sleeve and matching skirts or trousers. For male crew, a full suit is offered in the same indigo colourings with some elements of coral such as by the pocket square.
Ettore Bilotta made his mark on the aviation industry for a third time with the redesign of Alitalia’s uniforms. Sadly, due to the financial positions and restructuring of the airline prior to its demise, the newly designed uniforms were cancelled as a cost-cutting measure. However, we can still appreciate that if they had been rolled out, Alitalia would have been one of the best-dressed airlines. Italy is known for high fashion with the likes of Fendi, Valentino, and Gucci just to name a few and Alitalia would have mirrored this. Bilotta incorporated the jet-age era of commercial travel into his redesign and used a colour palette akin to that of the Italian flag. The materials selected were to be sourced in Italy with tailoring also done in the country making it proudly ‘Made of Italy’. It is a shame that this uniform never made it to the skies.
Aer Lingus may not be as stylish as some of the other airlines we've already spoken about. However, we cant not mention them! The airline has always been bold with its colour choices, often using emerald greens, shying away from the drab corporate colours. Let's just say you would be able to easily spot an Aer Lingus crew in the airport! The airline recently had a uniform redesign as part of a corporate overhaul. Designer Louise Kennedy was at the helm of this design, who had previously designed the old uniform for the airline although there isn't a vast change we are still glad that they have kept their colour scheme, even adding a new ‘Kenmare Green’ shade.
Singapore Airlines has an iconic uniform, using their flight attendants as a marketing tool and branding them as ‘Singapore Girls’. The airline's uniform has been used since 1972 after it was designed by French designer Pierre Balmain, yes that Balmain! Female crew are clad in traditional Sarong Kebaya which is traditional attire for Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. You will notice 4 types of Kebaya, this is intentionally done to signify the ranking of the crew. Blue Kebayas are to be worn by standard flight crew, green for the leading crew, red for the chief stewardess and finally purple Kebayas are to be worn by the in-flight supervisor. Although an old uniform it has aged well and solidified its iconic-ness for the airline.
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