(09/01/23) British Airways has unveiled a collection of new uniforms.
The collection features a tailored three-piece suit for men with regular and slim fit style trousers, while women are offered dress, skirt and trouser options. A tunic and hijab option has also been created, as has perhaps the most surprising option – a jumpsuit for women, an airline first.
Created by British fashion designer and tailor Ozwald Boateng OBE, the uniforms will be worn by the airline’s 30,000+ employees from spring 2023.
British Airways’ new uniforms were created by fashion designer and tailor Ozwald Boateng OBE
Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said, “Our uniform is an iconic representation of our brand, something that will carry us into our future, representing the very best of modern Britain and helping us deliver a great British original service for our customers. From the very start this has been about our people. We wanted to create a uniform collection that our people are proud to wear and with the help of over 1,500 colleagues, we are confident that we have delivered this.”
Boateng has been developing the collection since 2018 and even shadowed a number of airport roles to understand how the uniform needed to perform for each job.
More than 1,500 employees across the airline took part in 50 workshops to help ensure the garments suitability, from design workshops to prototype feedback and garment trials.
The airwave pattern that features across the entire uniform collection – including jackets, t-shirts, buttons and ties – was inspired by the movement of air over an aircraft wing, while the jacquard fabric across all of the tailored garments features a variation of the airline’s iconic speedmarque.
More than 90% of the garments are being produced using sustainable fabric from blends of recycled polyester. The airline is also only working with manufacturers that are members of the ‘Better Cotton’ initiative, a leading sustainability initiative for cotton, whose mission is to help cotton communities survive and thrive, while protecting and restoring the environment.
To make sure that each garment is fit for purpose, the airline has put the uniform to the test over the last six months in secret trials. Cabin and flight crew uniforms have been put through their paces on cargo flights across Europe while engineers have been secretly wearing the new uniforms while maintaining aircraft out of sight in Manchester and Cotswold Airports.
Many of the outdoor garments have also been tested in deluge showers and freezers at -18 degrees Celsius to ensure they’re water resistant, durable and fit for extreme weather conditions, like some of those seen recently.
During the trials staff gave feedback on the practicability of the garments, resulting in amendments ahead of the rollout. For example, engineers requested easy access tool pockets for when they’re working on aircraft, while ground handlers asked for touch-screen technology fabric in their gloves so they can use their devices in cold climates without having to take them off. Cabin crew requested for the pockets on the apron to be widened so they had more room for everything needed during meal services on board.
“Designing this uniform was a vast and painstaking undertaking and it went far beyond clothes. It was about creating an energetic shift internally,” said Ozwald Boateng OBE. “One of my main objectives was to create something that spoke to, and for, the airline’s colleagues. Something that inspired and empowered them, encouraged them to conduct their roles with pride and most importantly to ensure that they felt seen and heard. Although the airline has a strong heritage, it was imperative to support in creating a fresh narrative of change and transcendence, while remaining timeliness.”
The airline’s engineers and ground operations agents will be first to wear the new uniform from spring 2023. All British Airways’ cabin crew, pilots and check-in agents will have a switch over date from their current uniform to the new one in summer 2023.
As they pick up their new items of uniform, they’ll hand in their Julien MacDonald garments, which will be donated to charity or recycled to create toys, tablet holders and more, with a number of items gifted to the airline’s museum.