APEX Insider: Delta Air Lines launched its new “Passport Plum” uniforms, designed by Zac Posen, on Tuesday with a series of in-flight fashion shows and a celebration in Beverly Hills, California.
It took three years and an army of collaborators to create Delta’s newly launched uniform collection. Fashion designer and Project Runway judge Zac Posen led the charge, which sought to completely revamp Delta’s uniforms, including new looks for both above-wing employees (Delta Sky Club hosts, ticketing and gate agents, Red Coats and flight attendants) as well as below-wing employees (aircraft maintenance professionals, ramp and cargo agents and ground service equipment mechanics).
Posen spearheaded a team that included design teams from his eponymous company as well as Lands’ End (which manufactures the new uniforms), Zappos shoes, Spanx shapewear and Engage2Excel (which creates the new handmade wings and name bands). For Posen, getting the right fit and feel for the company’s 64,000 employees worldwide was the biggest challenge. As he explained to APEX Media, it was all about combining “form and functionality” into a look that drops the iconic red and navy tones of the previous uniforms and centers on “Passport Plum” and four other colors (Cruising Cardinal, Groundspeed Graphite, Traveling Thistle and Skyline Slate) to create a more global look for the Atlanta-based airline.
“From the beginning, one of the most important things for me was bringing technology into the project,” Posen said. “So I worked on that through fabrication development, through work I had done over a decade ago with Invista, which is a division of Dupont, in terms of wearable technology that had never been brought into uniforms before. We looked at fibers, at how many twist counts were in the wool, to incorporating stain resistant and anti-microbial fibers, how the lining was woven – we did everything.”
“One of the most important things for me was bringing technology into the project.” – Zac Posen
Posen wanted to ensure that Delta employees are not only cutting-edge stylish, but also able to do their jobs in comfort: “I believe that, if you feel good in what you are wearing, that projects into the work that you do and creates a greater experience,” he explained. His designs include signature details, like the collar of the women’s blouse inspired by the wing of an airplane and functional touches based on employee suggestions, like passport and pen pockets. In fact, Delta employees had input on the designs throughout the process by participating in focus groups completing company-wide surveys and getting involved in testing – 1,000 employees wore the new uniforms over three months.
The result is a collection of clothing that is made up of materials that are wrinkle- and stain-resistant, water-repellant, waterproof, deodorizing, windproof, anti-static and moisture-wicking. Once the final touches were complete, Delta took what Posen calls an “unprecedented” step to make every employee feel personally part of the process.
“From day one, I said, ‘we can design anything for your employees, but if you don’t take the time and care to fit your employees with these pieces, then you won’t have this unity.’ So they developed these fit clinics in 16 major hubs across the world, with personal stylists who could meet with each employee and walk them through their options. That’s unprecedented. 25,000 employees actually came through!” he exclaimed.