flight crews

Virgin America flight crews change clothes

On August 8th, when Virgin America celebrates its 5th anniversary of operations, the airline will also debut a new uniform for more than 2,000 of its flight attendants, pilots and other “guest-facing staff.”

The new uniforms embody “utility chic,” said Jesse McMillin, Virgin America creative director. “We wanted to find the place where performance and functionality collides with fashion … and the energy of our engaging brand.”

Developed during 18 month collaboration with Banana Republic that included brainstorming sessions, a spirited “Design Challenge” for designers and numerous focus groups and fitting sessions with many staff members, the new uniforms address some of the function issues Virgin America team members have with the uniforms they’ve been wearing for the past five years.

“Things like an in-flight person reaching up to open an overhead bin and having their shirt put out from their pants,” said McMillin.

The new uniforms still have clean lines and a simple color palette grounded in black and white, but Banana Republic designers have added warm grays, interesting fabrics and accents of Virgin America’s signature red. “They done things like put red piping on the women’s shirt and added a fun scarf set, a red trench coat with a removable quilted lining and a red sweater,” said McMillin.


Banana Republic designers also addressed some of the functionality issues in creative ways. “Shirts are a little longer and there’s a grippy lining on the interior of the pants to address that ‘reach’ issue,” said McMillin, “They’ve also added some spandex to pants, skirts and shirts and they’ve used performance fabrics that can be easily be cleaned and worn for long periods of time.”

According to Virgin America, the full line of new uniforms has nine styles for men, including leather jackets, striped sleeve sweaters and woven shirts and pants. Thirteen new pieces for women include a classic pencil skirt, a slim dress, trousers, leather jackets and trenches, silk print scarves and new Virgin America-branded serving aprons for in-flight meal service.

If some of this sounds like clothing that might work for your travel needs, you’re in luck. Many of the items in Virgin America’s new uniform line are based on pieces that Banana Republic was already working on for a collection centered on the urban traveler.

So as soon as the Virgin America staff begins sporting their new look, you can too. Some items, including aviator sunglasses, luggage and belted trenches for men and women, will be available in some Banana Republic stores and on-board all Virgin America flights via the airline’s seatback, in-flight entertainment platform, called Red.

My story about Virgin America flight crews changing clothes first appeared on msnbc.com Travel.

(Photos courtesy Virgin America)