FLYING THE FASHION-FILLED SKIES
United Airlines wants a new look. After the "knock-down, drag 'em" video that went viral last year, who could blame them. This time, UA has united - no pun intended - 2 iconic retailers and a high-end fashion designer.
"The partners we've selected uniquely match what our employees asked for in a uniforms program – style, comfort and durability," said Kate Gebo, United SVP of Global Customer Service Delivery and Chief Customer Officer. "We recognized early on that this would not be a 'one size fits all' solution – front-line employees perform vastly different roles and deserve a uniform that meets their specific needs, created by leaders in the apparel business.”
Brooks Brothers, Carhartt and designer Tracy Reese have been tapped to re-design the uniforms for United Airlines. With a strong desire to focus on fashion AND function, the new uniforms are set to be ready by 2020.
UA included their employees in the pre-production stage of the design process by inviting them to give feedback on samples.
With roughly 70,000 front-line employees consisting of pilots, flight attendants, gate agents and ramp workers, this commission made me very happy for Tracy Reese. I recently spoke with a flight attendant from United Airlines. She said she personally was excited when she heard about Tracy Reese designing the uniforms because she was a fan of her floral, feminine style. And while she may not be able to consistently afford to buy TR full price, the idea of knowing her uniform was created by her increased her moral about her mandatory work wardrobe.
Conversely, she shared that many flight attendants didn't share the same positive reaction asking "What has she done lately?" My response to that is, "She's kept her brand afloat" which requires a unrelentless work ethic, extreme financial resources and unparalleled determination found in no other industry. Did I mention it's expensive?
Speaking of expense, I was also relieved to hear that the near 200-year-old Brooks Brothers -- America's oldest apparel brand - will be handling production of the Tracy Reese designs which will be for female flight attendants and female customer service reps. Additionally, Brooks Brothers will manufacture their own designs for male pilots, flight attendants, and customer service reps while Carhartt will produce for ramp service, catering and technical operations employees.
Though not a short process, I believe this move by United Airlines speaks to the increased value that fashion has added to our lives overall and underscores the reality that when you look good, you feel good.
Let's hope customer service will follow.