The past two years airlines have had to think a little differently to maintain brand love, generate revenues and shift old stock that have filled warehouses. As such we’ve seen a wave of upcycling across the globe, with inflight trolleys finding their ways into homes from Asia, all the way to Europe, but now all eyes turn to Cathay Pacific, which turns 75 this year.
To celebrate 75 years of history, Cathay has used materials from the Cathay Pacific archives – quite literally. The end result sees parts of retired aircraft now become metal pens, cardholders and aviation tags; while upcycled crew uniforms now turned into an exclusive range of limited-edition merchandise, all with a tangible connection to Cathay’s past.
Believe it or not, the process actually started several years ago. ‘The Boeing 747 is the Queen of the Skies – it’s an icon of the time when Cathay went international and travel really started to become popular with people in Hong Kong’ says Jessica Lee, Brand Manager at Cathay. ‘When we had the last flight in 2016, we knew that it was very special – so we decided to save it for a big occasion.’
There’s no more fitting occasion than Cathay’s 75th anniversary. The hero of the collection is this limited-edition run of just 435 cardholder and pen sets, inspired by the shape of the 747-400.
‘It’s not every day you get your hands on aircraft aluminium so this was a very unique experience, from working with the material to coming up with the product ideas that will resonate with consumers,’ says Bjorn Fjelddahl, founder of branding and design firm Eight Partnership, which worked on the sets.
In honour of its 75th anniversary, the airline has also release a range of stylish accessories, by upcycling hundreds of cabin crew and cockpit uniforms into teddy bears, pouches, cushions and bags.
Pairing with Hong Kong lifestyle label G.O.D., which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and also worked on the airline’s amenity kits in the past seemed like a logical fit. ‘We felt confident with G.O.D.’s expertise, their knowledge, and that they could bring their point of view in terms of stylish design,’ says Lee.
‘We wanted it to feel very crafted, unique, and also very Cathay,’ she adds. Hence the unique patchwork design used in the range, created from all the different uniforms. ‘You have the silk ties; you have black, different shades of red; and then a white blouse with a brushwing pattern. It’s quite iconic, it gives a good flavour of the uniforms, aesthetically looks great in the house, and it’s also something that represents G.O.D.’
‘It was definitely a challenge to combine all the different colours, fabrics and details together in a way that didn’t look contrived’, says Douglas Young, Co-founder and CEO of G.O.D. ‘It was also something new for the manufacturers – each item has a unique pattern, requiring a careful selection of fabric. We also wanted to make sure we used as much of the material as possible as it would be a shame to waste any – so we used the offcuts to make stylish woven straps for the bags, for example.’
From cushions to teddies, pouches to bags, the designs are most likely going to be snapped up in a matter of days and can either be purchased using cash or miles through the carrier’s Asia Miles store. ‘I think these items will be very popular with a lot of people in Hong Kong – anyone who’s a lover of the brand, who’s seen this iconic red on cabin crew,’ says Jessica Lee. ‘It’s something that’s very personal to them, and now they can enjoy having a piece of this fabric that’s travelled the world.’