Luxury British retailer, The White Company began life in 1994 as a bold but simple vision by the company’s founder, Chrissie Rucker. Her ingenious plan was to design and make homewares and clothing that were predominantly white. They would be luxurious but affordable with an attention to detail that has earned the company devoted fans around the world.
Twenty-two years later and The White Company has a major presence on the British High Street – 50 stores and counting. There are outposts as far a field as the Middle East and a North American flagship store opened in New York last summer. Over those two decades, it’s become a quintessentially British brand, selling clothes, homewares and toiletries.
So what’s this got to do with airline’s I hear you ask? Well, let’s put it like this – When you check in at your favourite brand of hotel you pretty much assume that the bedding and amenities are going to be up to scratch. In most hotel’s we take the bedding for granted and the bathroom amenities are some own-brand monstrosity. For most travellers, that’s just fine.
Things, however, are a little different for airlines. They’ve realised that partnering with luxury brands that are leaders in their respective fields can propel them ahead of the competition. In the past, these partnerships were limited to First and Business Class amenity kits. Think Bvlgari at Emirates, Armani at Qatar Airways or Clarins at Air France.
But now there’s a new fight taking place between the airline’s – who can offer the best nights sleep. Sure, this has a lot to do with the quality of airline’s Business and First Class seats but when nearly every airline offers a fully-flat seat of some description or another, how do you differentiate yourself? Okay, so Emirates has a lounge and bar, American Airlines has ice-cream sundae’s and Qantas has wine tasting – but what if your most important passengers just want to sleep?
We’ve seen the sleep trend emerging for a couple of years now and The White Company is quickly positioning itself as the go-to supplier of choice for all things airline sleep related. It started at the beginning of this year when Qatar Airways announced a partnership for exclusively-designed pyjamas for both First and Business Class passengers.
The 100% cotton suits come with matching slippers in a super soft charcoal grey marl. Qatar Airways has signed The White Company into a three-year deal – during that time, new designs and colour options will be introduced. Explaining the partnership, Chrissie Rucker explained:
“We are delighted to partner with Qatar Airways on our first foray into airline sleepwear. At The White Company, we are proud of our commitment to supply our customers with the highest quality products and saw in Qatar airways a shared value. We look forward to a long and successful partnership.”
Clearly, The White Company has been preparing for this move for some time – Just six months later and the company announced a major deal with British Airways. The brand has been put centre stage in BA’s bid to save the reputation of its outdated and poorly received Club World product.
Whilst British Airways won’t be getting a new Business Class seat for at least two years, the airline has still caught on to the needs of weary eyed travellers. They’ll soon be offering a bespoke soft large pillow and pillow case designed exclusively for BA by The White Company. A super-soft woven blanket with satin trim and a padded mattress will replace the existing scratchy blankets. Finally a smaller ‘day cushion’ will add some comfort when you’re not quite ready to sleep.
The White Company will also usurp Elemis as the airline’s supplier of amenity kits, providing goodies from the retailers ‘Restore & Relax Spa Collection’. The products will come presented in a custom designed, black leather pouch bearing the brand’s name.
And it sounds like The White Company is keen to supply even more airlines. When we spoke to the company, a spokesperson declined to say where they saw their airline supplier business going. Instead, the spokesperson explained they were “working on further launch ideas in readiness for October” – a big announcement may be coming soon.
In the meantime, any speculation would be pure guesswork. But if we were to guess, might we suggest Emirates. For several years, Emirates has used The White Company as its supplier of handwash and moisturiser in Economy Class (The Noir collection – featuring amber, mandarin and sandalwood). There’s every possibility that the two brands might be looking to extend their partnership.
Still, it’s not just The White Company who are throwing themselves into airline sleep market. Earlier this year, United Airline partnered with Saks 5th Avenue to provide sheets and bedding for its new Polaris Business Class product. Expect to see plenty more brand partnerships coming to a premium cabin near you soon.
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.