When Delta Air Lines rolled out its new Zac Posen-designed uniform earlier this year, the Atlanta-based airline was at pains to highlight a bold new color palette they had chosen for the range of uniform items. The deep hue of purple – or as Delta likes to call it ‘Passport Plum’ – was a brave decision but it’s now being worn by thousands of Delta employees around the world
The color came about from a decision to merge Delta’s traditional shades of red and blue into one single color. The choice hasn’t been without its critics but Delta has embraced the change and made it a part of its new corporate identity.
So, it seemed a little strange when photos emerged of a redesigned American Airlines uniform which also seemed to feature key accessories like men’s neckties and pocket squares in a similar shade to Delta’s Passport Plum.
At the time, American’s staffers were a little confused and many speculated whether the color was merely an optical illusion – just like the infamous dress photo from 2015 which went viral around the world and split opinion on what color the dress actually was.
Well, now we have the answer – American has been running roadshows of its new look uniform across the United States so employees can take a look in person and provide some much-needed feedback on the provisional designs. The verdict? The color is definitely a shade of purple.
Apparently, American has listened to that feedback and has decided it no longer wants to be seen to be copying Delta. A more traditional shade of red, in a slightly different design, is now being shown off as a possible alternative.
But you have to wonder what exactly is happening at American – is the company’s corporate identity that confused that it can’t even nail down a consistent color palette for such an important project?
Lest we forget, the ‘redesigned’ uniform is actually a reboot of a new uniform which was launched in 2016 to widespread criticism. The uniform is reported to have caused adverse reactions, such as hives, itching and headaches in around 5,000 flight attendants.
The hashed up uniform by new manufacturer Lands’ End (who coincidentally produce Delta’s uniform as well) is in the same 2016 design but features new fabric and a new color palette – moving from a dark grey to what American calls ‘Parisian Blue’. The ‘new’ uniform will be rolled out next year with a signature dress and other pieces to follow in 2021.
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.