Vivienne Westwood transforms Virgin uniforms

Monday, 06 May 2013
British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood is redesigning Virgin Atlantic’s iconic red uniforms, which will be rolled out across all areas of the airline. The long-term partnership will see Westwood designing uniforms for more than 7,500 members of staff, including cabin crew, pilots, clubhouse staff and Virgin Holidays employees, and the airline will debut the redesign for the first time from July 2013, before the official launch in 2014.

The announcement came as a surprise to many, due to Westwood’s views on environmental issues, however the airline and designer confirmed that sustainability will play a vital factor in the design, and that many items of the new uniform will be produced using recycled materials – including recycled polyester yarn made from used plastic bottles.

Westwood redesigns Virgin uniforms

Talking about the new uniforms, Westwood has stated that she wanted to create a “futuristic look” that references her “enduring interest in 40’s French couture cutting techniques as well as the Savile Row tailoring heritage” and that the new designs will capture the “glamour and style” that the Virgin Atlantic cabin crew are renowned for.

Westwood added: “My clothes have always got a very strong dynamic rapport with the body- they are very body conscious, they help you to look glamorous, more hourglass, more woman. I design things to help people to hopefully express their personality.

“I am always trying to find fabrics that are more friendly to the environment - working with Virgin Atlantic they managed to research into this and find more eco fabrics.”

In addition to the apparel, Westwood has also introduced recycled bags for the ground staff, which will be produced for Virgin through the Ethical Africa Programme, in collaboration with the International Trade Centre. The bags will be created using recycled canvas, reused roadside banners, unused leather off-cuts, and recycled brass, produced in the Kibera slum, Nairobi, where discarded metal like padlocks and car pieces are collected then melted down.

Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic commented: “Virgin Atlantic has a distinct spirit and from a design perspective we continually try to challenge the norm and stand out from the crowd. Our current uniform has been around for more than 10 years and we have seen other airlines start to copy it.

“When we were choosing the designer for this project, we wanted to work with a group of people who share our spirit of adventure, who believe in challenging the status quo and creating something truly memorable.”

Passengers will receive a sneak peek of the new uniforms from July 2013 when cabin crew and ground staff trial the uniform at the airports and on board. Virgin staff will then provide feedback on the design, practicality and wearability so tweaks can be made ahead of the full launch in 2014.