As we head into 2020, cabin crew uniforms have been at the centre of a lot of controversy after thousands of flight attendants have reported having serious allergic reactions to their uniforms.
Delta Airlines recruited Zac Posen and manufacturer Lands’ End to deliver their flight attendant uniforms, but faced backlash after severe allergic reactions were reported from the attendants wearing the uniforms, causing Delta to announce that new uniforms will be rolled out to attendants and above-wing airport customer service employees by late 2021.
These issues are having a knock-on effect in the industry, with many airlines now prioritising and demonstrating their commitment to the safety of their uniform.
Aer Lingus has revealed a new uniform for cabin crew, the first redesign in 22 years and the 11th uniform in the airline’s history. The collection includes 25 redesigned garments in a combination of ‘Kenmare Green’ and ‘Midnight Navy’ colours.
Company director of marketing and digital experience, Dara McMahon told Runway Girl Network: ‘Our uniforms have been sourced from factories in Europe by our French manufacturer, Cepovett. Cepovett are a uniform specialist supplying uniforms to airlines for many years. All manufacturing plants used have passed all EU requirements for fabric standards. The uniforms have been rigorously tested by staff in ‘live environments’ both in the air and on the ground over a six-week period and no issues were encountered.’
With crew members involved in the testing process to provide feedback on comfort, performance and to determine whether the uniform lived up to the standards needed to complete the tasks at hand, including key safety functions.
McMahon continued: ‘We held extensive workshops with cabin and ground crew. Feedback was very clear in terms of a need for a practical yet stylish uniform. They are going to work, so practical elements like trousers for women were incorporated.’
For cabin crew that identify as female, the ability to chose to wear trousers was vital, due to the limitations of wearing a skirt or dress.
Aer Lingus will also be offering new maternity wear which includes a skirt and trouser option.
McMahon explained: ‘Obviously all materials must be inflammable, skirts and dresses have to be fitted, excess material that could get caught during an emergency situation is not allowed. So, you won’t see any A line dresses or full skirts. Flat shoes must be worn during the service on board, again for health and safety. Traveling to and from the aircraft, there is now a choice of heel size. This is for comfort rather than an EU or airline authority regulation.’
Designed by Louise Kennedy, the Irish fashion designer who previously worked on the airline’s uniforms in 1998; the new uniforms have been modernised whilst still incorporating Kennedy’s elegant and understated style.
The design of the new uniform was put out to tender, the airline’s previous experience with Kennedy helped to influence her selection.
‘Louise Kennedy was chosen for a combination of continuity, reliability, but above all a confidence that she would deliver a stylish and modern uniform,’ McMahon explains.
‘Innovation in fabric over the last 20 years has meant that fabrics like polyester have been transformed. Polyester is used for the women’s blouses, making them very comfortable and practical. The incorporation of elastane into fabric means there is stretch in the trousers,’ McMahon continues. ‘Great progress has been made with sustainable materials and progress continues. This means that reorders can be even more sustainable going forward.’
Other leading Irish fashion names who worked on Aer Lingus uniforms over the decades include Irene Gilbert, Neillí Mulcahy, Digby Morton, Ib Jorgensen and Paul Costello.
For more information, read Runway Girl Network’s article here