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Ghanaian Designer Ozwald Boateng Designs New British Airways Uniforms

Ozwald Boateng Photographed By Neale Haynes At London Heathrow Sept 2018

Ghanaian/British designer Ozwald Boateng designed a collection for British Airways’ 32,000 employees who wear a uniform as part of their role.

British Airways cabin crew have been given a new look following a wave of changes to their uniform for the first time in more than 20 years. The form-fitting workwear range has been expanded to include several new options for employees to wear on board.

The flag carrier airline of the UK has long been known for its navy, red and white uniform, which up until now, has consisted exclusively of a pencil skirt or trousers, paired with a shirt, blazer, and silk scarf. However, cabin crew taking to the sky this year will enjoy a wider selection of workwear outfits following the release of new items created by British designer, Ozwald Boateng. According to British Airways, a modern jumpsuit is one of the key pieces featured in the new collection.

Ozwald Boateng Photographed By Neale Haynes At London Heathrow Sept 2018
Ozwald boateng photographed by neale haynes at london heathrow sept 2018

The airline’s cabin crew will be allowed to wear the jumpsuit instead of their usual workwear outfits as part of their new look for 2023. BA claimed that it was the first in the world to roll out a “modern jumpsuit” for on-board employees – though it will only be available for female staff.

While the patriotic colour scheme has remained the same, celebrated tailor Ozwald Boateng explained that the re-design was created to reflect the “diversity” of what it means to be British now. Despite being recently unveiled, the collection has been five years in the making, having suffered repeated delays caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, among other things.

Tunics and hijabs are among the other options on offer to staff in the collection, which marked the first changes to BA uniforms since 2001. Ozwald also added a tailored three-piece suit for men with regular and slim-fit style trousers. For female cabin crew who do not wish to wear the new jumpsuit, there are dress, skirt and trouser options to choose from.

Ozwald Boateng
Ozwald boateng

Sean Doyle, Chief Executive of British Airways noted that the new uniform “will carry us into our future, representing the very best of modern Britain and helping us deliver a great British original service for our customers”.

He added: “We wanted to create a uniform collection that our people are proud to wear… we are confident that we have delivered this.

The new line of cabin crew attire will be rolled out this spring though staff have already enjoyed a preview of their 2023 wardrobe. Ozwald’s modern take on the classic collection will replace the existing uniform which was crafted by Welsh designer, Julien Macdonald.

More than 1,500 airline staff were involved in trialling the designs in a series of secret trials. Employees had to wear the garments in a -18C freezer and deluge showers to put them to the test.

In addition to the uniform itself, accessories such as gloves for ground handling crew were tested and adapted to make them fit for purpose. In this case, Ozwald altered the design of the gloves to allow touchscreen capability, giving staff the means to check mobile phones and fill in online forms while going about day-to-day activities in cold conditions.

The British designer explained that his process for designing the new look started with looking into the experiences of the people who would wear the uniform. From flight attendants to pilots and ground staff, Ozwald noted that the success of the collection would be “down to the people” rather than the clothing.

He said: “If they’re feeling good about themselves if you’re paying attention to their needs. That transforms everything.

Engineers and ground operation agents will be the first to wear the new uniforms later this year, followed by cabin crew, pilots and check-in agents in the summer. More than 90 percent of garments have been produced using fabric from blends of recycled polyester, with the carrier working with members of the ‘Better Cotton’ initiative to improve sustainability.

While the new BA uniform claims to be both traditional and “unique” to reflect British values, the airline decided against allowing male pilots to wear the new jumpsuit and skirts. The decision contrasted that of their rival airline, Virgin Atlantic, which rolled out a gender-neutral policy in September 2022. This allowed all staff to wear whichever of its uniforms feels most comfortable to them – regardless of their pronouns.

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