Picture 85Here at Thedesignair we have been watching the recent trend over the past few months of new uniforms being launched around the world, from China Eastern to Virgin Atlantic, new threads have become the new norm, lifting the inflight product and refreshing the cabin look and feel, whilst also (hopefully) making the cabin crew a little bit happier. Whilst some new uniforms haven’t made it on to the list (United – we are looking at you!) we are happy to announce many of the new uniforms have made it into the Top 10, with some other more classic uniforms showing they have tested time and stayed in our minds-eye as some of the best in the sky. Here’s our Top 10 list of good looking uniforms at 35,000ft.

(Whilst we have focussed on the female uniforms here, we have taken into consideration the male uniforms too in our research)

10. Virgin Atlantic

Starting off the sea of red that you’ll see below, Vivienne Westwood’s new design for Virgin Atlantic may be a love/hate design, but it’s certainly identifiable, and a welcome change from the current uniform that has been around for years. As we featured on our site last month, the designer has definitely put her stamp on the uniform, mixing a bit of British heritage, with the more ornate silhouettes famous to the British fashion designer. The elements we really love include the fake label detail on the men’s jackets, which is quite innovative, and the Clubhouse uniforms including the colour blocked ‘faux-bow’tie.

9. Air France


Christian Lacroix manages to steal two places in our list this year. The first is for his older of the two uniforms. Air France and Christian Lacroix seem to be a natural fit, and the styling is inherently French. Stylish, sophisticated, with a hint of fun, the airline uniform feels like it’s been taken out of the Jetset era and plunged into the modern world. There are a variety of outfits, all in the navy blue family, with hints of red dotted through, we do love the oversized red bow on the pale blue outfit about, it really sums up the stereotypes we all associate with Parisian style, playing with that stereotype, and making it work in it’s own right.

8. Aeroflot


Aeroflot may not be the first name that springs to mind when we talk design, but there is something super-retro cool about the female cabin attendants uniforms that we can’t get enough of. Large wing collar shirts, iconic flight hats, white leather gloves and retro styling that gives this uniform an edge. It also seems to stand out above the rest of the airline’s brand. Even the name tags that look like a 1980’s average hotel chain name tag, have a retro charm that we admire. Obviously in all their advertising the uniforms are worn by beautiful women with impeccable styling, and perhaps that helps this uniform have an edge. Worn by someone that hasn’t model looks, might make the uniform look a little less appealing.

7. Virgin America 


The new capsule collection by Banana Republic for Virgin America launched July last year gave the airline a refreshing, smart casual look for it’s cabin crew, mixing reds and slate tones of grey. Whilst we experienced the uniforms first hand in one of our trip reports, and found the ground crew slightly difficult to identify, inside the cabin however, the cabin attendants are cool and effortlessly ‘Virgin’ hip. We also like the capsule wardrobe idea, as it allows cabin crews of all shapes and sizes to dress to their figure, as sometimes a dress on one cabin crew member may look amazing, on others, it might look less so.

6. Avianca

Foto: javierlarotta

Avianca re-launched their brand earlier this year, and the resulting elements included a newly refreshed uniform. The uniform is all encompassing from ground crew to pilots. What we really like is the redesigned famous red cape, synonymous with Avianca (especially when the original red-topped planes are soon to be extinct). The modernised ruana roja (cape) and hat give the airline an instant individuality that we like in what seems to be a more and more generalised version of an airline uniform. The uniforms designed by renowned Colombian designer Álvaro Reyes.

5. Qantas


Parisian based, Australian born fashion designer Martin Grant has re-energised a tired uniform for Aussie flag carrier Qantas, and has shown that airline’s don’t have to be drab and grey suiting, instead, can be full of striking colour. What sets this uniform apart, is the small details, splashes of red and nods to contemporary capsule wardrobe fashion. We love the trilby hat for the ladies and the raincoats with red lining offer a surprising colour splash to what would be a grey and miserable day. The capsule collection with over 35 designs means that the uniforms will continue to surprise and look fresh for years to come.

4. Fiji Airways


So Fiji Airways, for regular readers of this site, will have noticed, have had a lot of coverage, and good for them, they have turned their airline around, and with some very clever branded, become a recognised airline all around the world. Their uniforms may not have the precise tailoring or capsule wardrobe of the other airlines in this list, but they have managed to keep true to their cultural roots when creating their uniform, designed by Alexandra Poenaru-Philp. The pattern, remains true to Makereta Matemosi’s stunning masi artwork. The uniforms, are friendly, relaxed, modern yet authentic, and add a new dimension to the cabins. The relaxed look is very fitting for what is largely leisure traffic on the airline.

3. China Eastern


A new name to Thedesignair, but well deservedly so, the new airline uniform for China Eastern, designed by Christian Lacroix, is simple elegance redefined. The uniform might mistakenly be identified as Air France’s uniform, with tight blue dresses and red accessories, symbolising the French national colours. But there is no mistaking the simple and powerful image these professional uniforms convey. This airline is trying to position itself as a force to be reckoned with in the international market, and employing Christian Lacroix shows how international the airline wants to be. We love the pill-box hat, the oversized belt and the button down fronted dress. Something is to be said about understated luxury.

2. Singapore Airlines


Singapore Airlines hasn’t changed it’s ‘Singapore Girl’ uniform from Pierre Balmain in over 40 years. Now an iconic image of the airline and used in almost all of their marketing campaigns. The uniform came to light when Malaysia-Singapore Airlines ceased operations on 1 October 1972 and Singapore Airlines took over as its successor. “Singapore Girl” was coined in 1972 when the French haute couture designer, was hired by Singapore Airlines to construct and update the Malay “Sarong Kebaya” as part of the cabin crew’s uniform. This uniform is well deservedly up here as it has survived the test of time, still looks contemporary, luxurious and symbolises the heritage and distinction the airline has earned over the years.

1. Korean Airlines


Designed back in 2005 by Gianfranco Ferré, the Korean Airlines uniform wins top spot here at Thedesignair. Not purely due to the simple elegant tailoring, but also due to the “impeccable grooming standards that Korean Airlines enforces for its crew, matched by the decorum and posture of the crew, even after a long haul flight” says designer and Thedesignair judge, Nicholas Oakwell. Simple egg-shell blue colours work beautifully with creams and whites and touches such as gravity defying neck scarves and leather gloves help to encapsulate the sheer elegance of the airline. The shirts feature a water-like sheen to them, that contrasts the more structured tailoring of the rest of the uniform. When we went through Honolulu Airport last year and saw the uniformed crew walk through, it turned the heads of every passenger there. That’s a measure of it’s success.

Posted by:Jonny Clark

19 replies on “TheDesignAir Top 10 Airline Uniforms Of 2013

  1. Interesting article but way too many distracting typos using the word “it’s” incorrectly.

    It’s = “it is”
    Its is the possessive form. Correctly used: “That’s a measure of its success”

  2. While “Singapore Girl” was created after Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (MSA) split into Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Malaysia Airline System, the Pierre Balmain-deisgned uniform was created in the late ’60s under the MSA brand. SIA “inherited” the uniform.

    Design is a subjective matter. However, I have a hard time understanding how on earth Korean Air’s uniform can be ranked anywhere near the top. First of all, both the light blue and beige colors make the uniform looks old. I also hate the “stiff” scarf and hair piece that stick in the air. It just doesn’t look natural.

  3. I cant believe that Emirats was not rated. Sure all the models look great but Emirats consistently presents looking great! For example not all qantas girls wear red lipsticks which made this photo. I do however agree with many of the photos above. All I have to say is how much time do we have that we can rate the airlines uniforms and we go to work daily not having to look perfect! Yip a little perspective required!!!! 🙂

  4. The Korean Air uniform was/is a natural #1. It’s actually even more stunning in person (first time I saw it was in Honolulu too) than in photos. Not quite sure how Virgin America’s Blahnana Republic-designed uniform rose to the top. And Avianca? Seriously?

  5. My favorites airline uniforms: Finnair, Olympic Air, Aeroflot, TAP Air Portugal, S7 Airlines, Korean Air, Kuwait Airways, Air Malta, Air Algérie, Air China, China Southern Airlines, TransAero and Air India.

  6. Surely the British Airways uniform should be their instead of AirFrance as should Emirates instead of Aeroflot

  7. Whoever made this list is a freaking kpop fan! Koreans uniform looks kinda ugly, and it seems like most comments agree on that!

  8. well, the kebaya is part of the region and so far MAS, SQ and Garuda uses the kebaya as uniform. but what is different is for SQ, french couture tailoring/design expertise is incorporated to fit the girl to show her curves. so it has become world famous.

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