British Airways (BA) has announced its first new uniform in nearly 20 years. The collection, created by British fashion designer and tailor Ozwald Boateng OBE, will be worn by more than 30,000 BA colleagues from Spring 2023.
The collection consists of a men’s three tailored three-piece suit with regular and slim fit style trousers, as well as women’s dress, skirt, trouser, tunic and hijab options. The collection will also be introducing a modern jumpsuit to the BA uniform for the first time.
Sean Doyle, Chairman and CEO, British Airways, was pleased with the new uniform: “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.
“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,” he said.
Boateng took inspiration from the airline’s brand and the art of flying during the creation of uniforms. The movement of air over an aircraft wing inspired the airwave pattern featured across the entire uniform collection including jackets, t-shirts, buttons and ties. Additionally, the jacquard fabric used in each garment features a variation of the airline’s speedmarque.
The uniforms have been in development since 2018 and involved more than 1,500 BA colleagues in 50 workshops, from design workshops to prototype feedback and garment trials. Boateng also shadowed several airport roles in his research to understand the performance capabilities required by each job.
Boateng, the British, Ghanaian changemaker, fashion designer and tailor described this project as going “far beyond clothes.”
“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,” he said.
Secret trials took place over the last six months to test the uniforms were fit for purpose. Cargo flights across Europe were used to test cabin and flight crew uniforms, while engineers wore the uniforms during aircraft maintenance in Manchester and Cotswold Airports, where they remained unseen.
The outdoor garments were also tested on their water resistance, durability and fit for extreme weather conditions using deluge showers and freezers at -18 degrees Celsius.
The feedback provided in the trials resulted in amendments ahead of the rollout. For example, Engineers requested easy access tool pockets for when they’re working on aircraft, while touch-screen technology fabric was added to ground handlers’ gloves so they could use their devices in cold climates without having to take them off.
Emma Carey, British Airways’ cabin crew, was involved in the uniform trials: “It was great to see that adjustments were made after our feedback,” she said, “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.”
More than 90% of the garments are produced using sustainable fabric from blends of recycled polyester. The airline is also exclusively working with manufacturers who are members of the ‘Better Cotton’ initiative, as part of their British Airways Better World commitment.
British Airways’ engineers and ground operations agents will be first to wear the new uniform from Spring 2023, followed by cabin crew pilots and check-in agents in Summer 2023.
All former uniforms, designed by Julien MacDonald OBE, are to be donated to charity or recycled to create toys, tablet holders and more. Several items will also be gifted to the airline’s museum.