British Airways has unveiled a new uniform to usher the airline into the next chapter of its history. From Spring 2023, more than 30,000 of the airline’s employees will wear a collection of garments designed by British fashion designer and tailor Ozwald Boateng OBE.
“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.”Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO
The men’s collection includes a tailored three-piece suit with regular and slim fit style trousers, and the women’s collection includes a dress, skirt, and trouser options, as well as a modern jumpsuit – an airline first. For the global carrier, a tunic and hijab option has also been created.
Boateng took great care in creating a truly unique collection, drawing inspiration from the airline and its people who practice the art of flying. The airwave pattern, which appears on jackets, t-shirts, buttons, and ties throughout the collection, was inspired by the movement of air over an aircraft wing. All of the tailored garments feature a jacquard fabric with a variation of the airline’s iconic speedmarque.
Boateng has been meticulously developing the collection since 2018. He shadowed a variety of airport roles to understand how the uniform needed to perform for each job while maintaining a modern British, stylish look with high quality, resilient fabrics that are simple to care for. More than 1,500 colleagues from across the airline participated in 50 workshops to ensure the suitability of the garments, from design workshops to prototype feedback and garment trials, resulting in an iconic collection that will stand the test of time.
To ensure that each garment is fit for purpose, the airline has been secretly testing the uniform for the last six months. Cabin and flight crew uniforms have been tested on cargo flights across Europe, while engineers have been secretly wearing the new uniforms while working behind the scenes at Manchester and Cotswold Airports. Many of the outdoor garments have also been tested in deluge showers and freezers at -18 degrees Celsius to ensure that they are water resistant, durable, and fit for extreme weather conditions, such as some that have recently occurred.
During the trials, colleagues provided feedback on the wearability of the garments, resulting in changes before the rollout. Engineers, for example, requested easy-access tool pockets for working on aircraft, while ground handlers requested touch-screen technology fabric in their gloves so they could use their devices in cold climates without taking them off.
“It’s been a real honour and responsibility to help test the new uniform and put it through its paces at 35,000ft to make sure it’s fit for purpose, with thousands of my colleagues counting on me. It was great to see that adjustments were made after our feedback. The pockets on the apron, for example, were widened after the trial so we had more room for everything we need during meal services on board. I can’t wait for our customers to see the new collection.”Emma Carey, British Airways’ cabin crew
Throughout the uniform design process, sustainability and quality have been prioritized. More than 90% of the garments are made with sustainable fabric made from recycled polyester blends. As part of British Airways’ BA Better World commitment to working with sustainable suppliers, the airline only works with manufacturers who are members of the ‘Better Cotton’ initiative, the world’s leading cotton sustainability initiative whose mission is to help cotton communities survive and thrive while protecting and restoring the environment.
Engineers and ground operations agents will be the first to wear the new uniform, beginning in Spring 2023. All cabin crew, pilots, and check-in agents at British Airways will transition from their current uniform to the new one in Summer 2023. When they receive their new uniforms, they will hand in their old ones, which will be donated to charity or recycled to make toys, tablet holders, and other items, with a number of items donated to the airline’s museum.