United is in the process of developing new uniforms for all of the airline’s front line employees. Last night, they held an event at Brooks Brothers’ flagship store in Manhattan to officially launch the program which will result in the creation of over a million new garments for over 70,000 uniformed employees by 2020.
Although the uniform design project was the toast of the event, the evening clearly signified United’s desire to acknowledge the valuable contribution of the company’s frontline workers to the success of the airline.
“United is doing this uniform roll out right. They are proving this uniform is being built for the people who wear it. They are working with AFA from the start and through the process to put in place all of the necessary controls for health and safety – as well as taking into real consideration what this uniform needs to do for a diverse work group who want to project a professional image and take pride in putting on the uniform. Working with U.S. designers known for a professional, high-quality product also reflects a commitment to supporting the people on the front lines who make United world class”
Sara Nelson, Int’l President, Association of Flight Attendants
True Employee Input
The project has been driven by input shared by over 4,500 employees directly with representatives from Brooks Brothers, Tracy Reese, and Carhartt. Additionally, information was gathered through focus groups with over 800 employees, 17,000 survey responses and job-shadowing with customer service representatives, ramp agents, technicians and flight attendants at several of United’s hubs.
Brooks Brothers will design and manufacture uniforms for all of United’s male flight attendants as well as partner with Tracy Reese for the design and manufacture of the female flight attendant uniform.
The new uniform program at United integrates several proactive measures to prevent the type of uniform issues that have taken place at American. They’ve involved the unions from the very beginning of the program to ensure the end product is what each workgroup needs and wants. Employees have also been regarded as the experts they are when it comes to what works and what just won’t fly.
From the start, United is taking the following steps to make the uniform program a success:
- Provide alternative options for employees who may have wool allergies
- Ensure that wear test garments are produced in the same factories and with the same treatments as production garments.
- Run multiple wear tests with a very large employee population participating.
- Continue to engage union partners along the way to identify any concerns prior to launch and for their sign-off at key milestones.
Here’s United’s press release with further details:
United Airlines announced today that it 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 leading international brand of premium travel, business and lifestyle accessories, 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 frontline 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 last 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.
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.” – 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
“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.” – Vincent Graziano, National Coordinator, Technicians and Related, Teamsters Airline Division
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 creating a uniform program that United’s employees will be proud to wear.” – 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.” – 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.” – 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.” – Rob Cooper, General Manager North America, TUMI