Two airlines, two new cabin crew uniform launches and two very different looks. First, came a high-end and ultra glamorous event at Laurence Xu’s Haute-Couture Show during Paris Couture Fashion Week. Models took to the runway at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand Hotel to showcase Hainan Airlines new fashionista cabin crew uniform and it certainly got heads turning. Glamour is coming back to aviation.
A day later and in a slightly less salubrious environment, Dubai’s very own low-cost airline, flydubai announced a refreshed design of its own cabin uniform. And well, it’s just not terribly exciting. The fact that a local hospitality uniform supplier designed and supplied the new threads says it all really.
Admittedly, Hainan Airlines is a Skytrax awarded 5-Star airline with a “strategic vision of becoming one of the world’s most prominent carriers.” So much effort has been put into the new look that it’s been two years in the making. The latest design is set to replace the airline’s fourth generation uniform that has been worn by staff since 2010.
“The uniforms that were showcased combine elements of classical, time-honored Oriental aesthetics and the silhouette of a modern Western suit, infusing new vigour and fashion into the attire,” commented a spokesperson for Hainan.
For ladies, the uniform is built around the Cheongsam – a traditional Chinese dress normally worn on formal occasions. The collar features clouds which turn into a pattern of sea and mountains towards the hem of the dress. Nothing has been left to chance and everything has a meaning – take the length of the sleeves for example. Three-quarter length to denote simplicity, modesty and the cabin crew’s “high level of competence”.
As a Hainan Airlines spokesperson put it: “The fusion of traditional Chinese elements and popular international fashion created an Oriental masterpiece that turned heads in Paris.” And that’s what really ties this whole design together – Traditional Oriental aesthetics and high-quality Western tailoring. Although it wasn’t an easy task to get right. Over 1,000 blueprints and 100 sample garments were created before Xu and his team were finally happy with the design.
Meanwhile, it’s not clear whether flydubai went to quite so much time and effort to create their new look uniforms. Which is a shame really because the refreshed look is the first redesign of flydubai’s uniform since the airline launched in June 2009. Apparently, the rollout of the new look will coincide with the airline’s delivery of Boeing’s latest passenger jet – the 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
The new uniform will not only be worn by cabin crew but more than 2,500 staff across the airline, including pilots, engineering and maintenance staff. flydubai has always positioned itself as a young, startup with a slightly younger and more energetic take on the world but Ghaith Al Ghaith, flydubai’s chief executive, says its time to grow up:
“Our desire to meet the varying travel needs of our passengers with affordable, reliable travel services still lies at the heart of our proposition; however, we have come a long way from being a start-up airline and this maturity needs to be reflected through multiple touchpoints across the airline, undoubtedly the uniform is the most visible of all.”
Of course, like any airline, flydubai has the unenviable task of creating a uniform that not only “exudes the spirit of the brand but also meets the operational and practical demands” of the airline’s staff. Jilly Sims, Senior Vice President of Inflight Service at flydubai, says the new uniform take into account varied climates, cultural and religious sensitivities, durability, security, health and safety regulations and last but definitely not least “cost-efficiency”.
So, we get it – flydubai had a difficult job and they’ve done their best to get it right. Personally, we think they could have done better. Yes, we know they’re a low-cost airline but it’s not like it can’t be done. Take Spanish carrier, Vueling – it’s proving that budget airlines can have stylish cabin crew without spending a fortune to achieve the look.
flydubai has released this video to showcase its new look:
What do you think of flydubai’s and Hainan Airline’s new cabin crew uniforms? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.