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Virgin America pilots, flight attendants getting a makeover

Virgin America

Virgin America teamed up with Banana Republic to freshen its uniforms.

On August 8, when Virgin America celebrates its fifth anniversary of operations, the airline will also debut a new uniform for more than 2,000 of its flight attendants, pilots and other “guest-facing staff.”

The new uniforms embody “utility chic,” said Jesse McMillin, Virgin America's design director. “We wanted to find the place where performance and functionality collide with fashion … and the energy of our engaging brand,” he told msnbc.com.

Developed during an 18-month collaboration with Banana Republic that included brainstorming sessions, a spirited “Design Challenge” for designers and numerous focus groups and fitting sessions with many staff members, the new uniforms address some of the function issues Virgin America team members have with the uniforms they’ve been wearing for the past five years.

Virgin America

A model shows off a slim-fit black shirt dress, black trim silk Charmeuse scarf and reversible belt.

“Things like an in-flight person reaching up to open an overhead bin and having their shirt put out from their pants,” said McMillin.

The new uniforms still have clean lines and a simple color palette grounded in black and white, but Banana Republic designers have added warm grays, interesting fabrics and accents of Virgin America’s signature red. “They've done things like put red piping on the women’s shirt and added a fun scarf set, a red trench coat with a removable quilted lining and a red sweater,” said McMillin.

Virgin America

A model wears a lamb skin leather jacket with slim-fit pencil skirt.

Banana Republic designers also addressed some of the functionality issues in creative ways. “Shirts are a little longer and there’s a grippy lining on the interior of the pants to address that ‘reach’ issue,” said McMillin, “They’ve also added some spandex to pants, skirts and shirts and they’ve used performance fabrics that can be easily cleaned and worn for long periods of time.”

According to Virgin America, the full line of new uniforms has nine styles for men, including leather jackets, striped sleeve sweaters and woven shirts and pants. Thirteen new pieces for women include a classic pencil skirt, a slim dress, trousers, leather jackets and trenches, silk print scarves and new Virgin America-branded serving aprons for in-flight meal service.

Virgin America

Models show off a pilot's slim-fit gray woven shirt, plaque belt and flat front trouser (left) and a black slim-fit shirt dress, red trim silk Charmeuse scarf and reversible belt.

If some of this sounds like clothing that might work for your travel needs, you’re in luck. Many of the items in Virgin America’s new uniform line are based on pieces that Banana Republic was already working on for a collection centered on the urban traveler.

So as soon as the Virgin America staff begins sporting their new look, you can too. Some items, including aviator sunglasses, luggage and belted trenches for men and women, will be available in some Banana Republic stores and on-board all Virgin America flights via the airline’s seatback, in-flight entertainment platform, called Red.

Find more by Harriet Baskas on StuckatTheAirport.com and follow her on Twitter.

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