Thirty Years of Virgin Atlantic

Thirty years of glamour at Virgin Atlantic

Vivienne Westwood has designed the latest uniform

“When we started flying thirty years ago we wanted to bring the glamour back,” says Sir Richard Branson. “Part of that glamour is making your crews feel good. It’s important to make sure that every single thing they’re wearing, they feel good about.”

Vivian Westwood and Sir Richard Branson

With the Virgin Atlantic signature red uniforms having become a memorable part of the flying experience and among the most envied in the airline industry, the latest uniform design by Vivienne Westwood has a lot to live up to.

The design brief was a challenging one, though, and not all about glamour. The uniforms must be comfortable in different climates around the world as well as at 30,000 feet. Cabin crew walk an average of seven miles on a transatlantic flight and may be onboard for up to 14 hours, so shoes and clothes must be designed with this in mind.

For safety reasons, scarves and ties, meanwhile, must be quick-release – even lace-up male shoes must also double as slip-ons in case of a slide evacuation. It’s perhaps not the sort of brief Vivienne Westwood is used to – but she certainly relished the challenge.

While it’s well known that Vivienne shares Sir Richard’s maverick spirit, it was her passion for the environment that sealed her as the ideal choice for the collaboration. Sustainability is a key part of the new design and many items of the new uniform are produced using recycled materials – in particular working with recycled polyester yarn made from used plastic bottles.

The result – rigorously tested for comfort, durability and safety for over a year before launch – is a stunning 22-uniform collection that will be worn by over 7,500 staff in total, including pilots and ground staff as well as cabin crew.

Sir Richard’s reaction? “I think Vivienne’s got it – bang. We’ve created something which I think is stunningly beautiful and which our crews can feel extremely good wearing.”

So it seems that the new uniforms will continue to turn heads in the airport and in the sky. View our slideshow to see how the Virgin Atlantic uniforms – always created in collaboration with some of the most renowned designers of their day – have changed over the last thirty years.


More about Virgin Atlantic

More about Virgin Atlantic

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For 30 years, Virgin Atlantic has been one of the world’s favourite long haul airlines. Every year, they fly over five million passengers to over 30 destinations worldwide.

The secret to their success is making the journey memorable for all the right reasons, providing innovative products and friendly service in every cabin. From the big picture, to the tiniest detail, Virgin Atlantic flies in the face of ordinary, creating an experience their passengers love.

Visit the Virgin Atlantic website

Related items

Related items

In this article from the Virgin Atlantic blog, Flight service manager Mary Chaffey looks back on thirty years in the skies, including how she saved the day when Sir Richard forgot his passport.

In this two-minute video, Sir Richard and Vivienne Westwood discuss their collaboration to redesign the new Virgin Atlantic uniform – plus, a reminder of the airline’s most recent iconic adverts

In this short video, Sir Richard shares his feelings on the new uniform.


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