News & Runway

Fashion Takes Flight: Designers Reach New Heights Upgrading Airline Uniforms

Flying the friendly skies just got a lot more stylish now that several designers are revamping airline uniforms. This reemerging trend spans the globe from Virgin Atlantic in the UK to Qantas out of Australia and Japan’s All Nippon Airways. Designers have a history of working with the industry dating back to the 60s, but it seems like this fresh crop of collaborations are aiming to shake up traditional in-flight uniforms. Here’s a breakdown of the designers, the airlines and what to expect from the new ensembles.


Images: Michael Carpenter/, Getty

Anti-establishment icon Vivienne Westwood has made a name for herself as a fashion-forward activist by regularly incorporating punk elements and graphic statements into her celeb-favored clothing lines. While a partnership with Richard Branson and his Virgin brand may initially seem like a bad match, the rebellious designer definitely likes to shake things up and she’s giving credit to Virgin for seeking out eco-friendly fabrics to craft the new uniforms. The reinvented ensembles won’t be revealed until next year, but a couple of sketches have already been distributed, indicating the outfits will mix a futuristic element with 40s French couture. That means keeping Virgin Atlantic’s red hue, but adding in standout features like pleats and a more figure-hugging silhouette.


Images: Getty

Martin Grant is a Melbourne native, so it made sense that Australia’s biggest airline would tap the designer to produce some new uniforms. His Paris-based fashion house has built up a star-studded fan base coveting its simultaneously feminine and functional garments. The Qantas logo was the model for the updated uniforms highlighting the color palettes of French Navy, Qantas red, ruby red and fuchsia. A bold stripe accent also guarantees the flight crew will be hard to miss on land and up in the air. There’s a surprising real world appeal here in everything from the sleek dresses to that red-accented trench. Australia’s own Miranda Kerr helped unveil the new uniforms back in April, even though the new looks won’t officially hit the air until 2014.


Images: IMAXtree, C.Smith/

The latest designer to sign on is Prabal Gurung. He’s working with Japan’s All Nippon Airways to modernize the airline’s look for its 60th anniversary. Approximately 10,000 staff members will be lucky enough to wear the new designs, expected to debut later in 2014. Prabal is no stranger to collaborations, of course. His epically successful Target collection sold out pretty quickly and even though these creations will strictly be for airline employees, we’re sure the ensembles will be just as covetable.


Images: IMAXtree

We’re actually pretty excited about all these designer/airline hookups. This trend will probably even extend to other airlines. Maybe Michael Kors will introduce some of his Spring 2013 stripes to the uniforms of an American airline or perhaps one of Calvin Klein’s streamlined Fall 2013 dresses can serve as inspiration. The only downside is that we’d have to sign up as a flight attendant or a member of the ground crew to get our hands on these designer pieces.