Taxiing with a three-tier approach, United Airlines has called upon Brooks Brothers, Tracy Reese and Carhartt to create new uniforms.
Each of the three companies is helping to design new outfits for 70,000 staffers. The company expects to roll out its employees’ new look in 2020. Reese and design teams at Brooks Brothers and Carhartt have already gotten started by meeting with United’s workers in recent months in its U.S. hubs. A spokeswoman said it’s too soon to provide details of what the uniforms will look like.
In addition, TUMI will be the official luggage provider for the airline’s 24,000 flight attendants, offering them the option of a two-wheel or four-wheel bag.
To offer a more diverse selection, United did its own in-house research before deciding on the three brands. Focus groups, open houses and surveys were conducted to get a better handle on the different needs for employees.
Nearing its 200th anniversary, the classic American label Brooks Brothers is designing and manufacturing uniforms for all United pilots, male flight attendants and male customer service representatives. This is the first time the company has worked with an airline, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.
Brooks Brothers will also be manufacturing Reese’s designs for female flight attendants and female customer service representatives. Zac Posen, Brooks Brothers creative director of women’s wear, will not be involved with the project. Interestingly, Posen has his own expertise in airline uniform design. Last fall Delta unveiled his creations for its front-line employees.
Carhartt, another brand with a long heritage – 130 years – will suit up the ramp service and technical operations workers and catering employees. Cintas will be responsible for the distribution of Carhartt garments as well as providing a select number of employee-favored items. Cintas designed the most recent incarnation of United’s uniforms, which were introduced in 2013. The airline also worked with Cynthia Rowley briefly in 2011 and some of her designs were incorporated into the 2013-released uniforms, a United spokeswoman said.
Known for her signature rich colors and prints, Tracy Reese said, “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.”
Given the inevitable weather delays, mechanical hold-ups and serpentine security lines that are part of air travel, United staffers will at times be showing their new uniforms to a captive audience.
United Airlines and United Express run about 4,500 flights daily in 338 airports across five continents. Last year alone more than 143 million customers flew United and United Express.
Lisa Lockwood also contributed to this article.