United Airlines Taps Three Apparel Power Players for Uniform Redesign
In the latest airline uniform redesign news, United Airlines has partnered with three world-class design and apparel companies — Brooks Brothers, Tracy Reese and Carhartt — to inspire and create a new line of uniforms for the carrier's more than 70,000 front-line employees.
Additionally, United will partner with TUMI, the premium travel, business and lifestyle accessories brand, to be the official luggage provider for all 24,000 flight attendants.
"The partners we've selected uniquely match what our employees asked for in a uniforms program – style, comfort and durability," said Kate Gebo, senior vice president of global customer service delivery and chief customer officer of United. "We recognized early on that this would not be a 'one size fits all' solution – front-line employees perform vastly different roles and deserve a uniform that meets their specific needs, created by leaders in the apparel business. Our United family is excited to see how these trusted and innovative brands will deliver world-class uniforms in close collaboration with our employees."
Committed to a best-in-class uniforms program, earlier this year the airline started what will be a multi-year process to ensure the proper amount of time for collaboration among employees, labor leadership and the partner brands as well as ample time to test uniforms before finalizing designs and materials.
Working closely with labor leadership for all front-line teams, employee feedback will be used to inform every aspect of the design process, which will be followed by multiple thorough wear tests with employees to ensure optimal comfort and functionality of designs and materials. The process is structured to deliver comfortable, durable and fashionable uniforms that United's talented aviation professionals will feel proud to wear while performing their varied roles.
Based on employee feedback from focus groups, open houses and surveys, United identified a variety of distinct brands to meet the needs of employees and help deliver the company's next-generation uniform program. Over the past several months, Tracy Reese and representatives from Brooks Brothers and Carhartt met with employees at all of United's U.S. domestic hub locations. United anticipates rolling out new uniforms in 2020.
Brooks Brothers, America's oldest apparel company, has a rich heritage dating back 199 years and is globally recognized for its innovation, quality and timeless style. Brooks Brothers will design and manufacture uniforms for all United pilots and male flight attendants and customer service representatives.
"Brooks Brothers is proud to partner with United on this exciting initiative. We, like United, have a passion for quality, innovation and a shared commitment to create a uniform program that United's employees will be proud to wear," said Claudio Del Vecchio, chairman and CEO, Brooks Brothers.
For more than two decades, Tracy Reese has crafted joyful, feminine pieces in signature rich colors and unique prints for the modern woman. Her design philosophy is rooted in a commitment to bringing out the beauty in women of all shapes, sizes and colors. Like United, she is inspired by global cultures and travel. Reese will partner with Brooks Brothers to design uniforms for female flight attendants and customer service representatives that will be manufactured by Brooks Brothers.
"I am truly honored to embark on this journey with United. For me as a designer, there is no prouder moment than seeing amazing women wearing my designs while accomplishing the many important endeavors required of each day. I look forward to continuing the United tradition of excellence and style with some added Tracy Reese flair," noted Tracy Reese.
For nearly 130 years, Carhartt has built reliable, durable workwear and apparel for the active and outdoors lifestyle – it is also a brand that employees identified as their preference. Carhartt will be responsible for outfitting the ramp service, technical operations and catering operations employees. Employee apparel provider Cintas will be responsible for the distribution of Carhartt garments as well as providing a select number of employee-favored pieces.
"Carhartt was founded to serve railroad engineers with durable workwear designed to exceed their rugged requirements. Four generations later, our family-owned business still outfits hardworking people around the world. This new partnership is an incredible opportunity to outfit the men and women of United Airlines, who take on the harshest elements every day," said Mark Valade, chairman and CEO, Carhartt.
Product quality and selection are key attributes that have made TUMI the leading international business, accessory and travel lifestyle brand. TUMI is the preferred luggage of many of United's premier customers, and this partnership gives employees what's known as the "TUMI Difference." All United flight attendants will receive their choice of either a two-wheel or four-wheel rollaboard bag.
"The partnership between TUMI and United Airlines expresses our shared passion in perfecting the journeys of our customers. As part of United's continued investment in its uniform program, we look forward to sharing the TUMI difference by being the sole luggage provider to the United Airlines flight attendant team," said Rob Cooper, General Manager North America, TUMI.
Labor leadership partnership
"High quality, functional uniforms and luggage that flight attendants can be proud of contributes to how we feel about our workplace, our profession and our airline. Safety, health and functionality are fundamental requirements, too, and we appreciate the collaboration of United management with our union to roll out a uniform that meets all of these requirements and demonstrates the commitment to becoming the best airline in the business," added Ken Diaz, president, Association of Flight Attendants at United Airlines.
"The pilots of United Airlines welcome this partnership with Brooks Brothers. We look forward to working with them to design a uniform that honors the traditions of our profession and the heritage of our airline and allows United pilots to look, feel and perform their best while flying around the globe." – Todd Insler, chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association United Master Executive Council on behalf of the UAL MEC Uniform Committee.
"Congratulations to United on its new uniform program. I'd like to commend the company for making the employees such a big part of the process. Listening to employees and implementing their ideas is a good thing and leads to positive outcomes," Mike Klemm, president and directing general chairperson, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers 141, added.
"As United's technicians, being a part of the design has been most inspirational and welcoming. Carhartt is making it possible for us to proudly represent what we stand for in Tech Ops," says Vincent Graziano, National Coordinator, Technicians and Related, Teamsters Airline Division.