Alaska Airlines will work with Seattle fashion designer Luly Yang to redesign uniforms for more than 12,000 of its employees, to complement the airline’s new branding revealed this January; the first major brand re-design for the airline in 25 years.
Yang was exposed to the many facets and the fundamentals of design at an early age growing up in a family of artists, architects, and engineers. Her work is characterised by strong graphic and architectural elements, achieving a balance of form and function.
She opened her couture studio in 2000 with a collection of 12 couture wedding gowns. Her portfolio has since expanded to couture gowns and cocktail attire, menswear, accessories, hotel uniforms and includes a collection ready-to-wear clothing for the public.
A frequent traveler, Yang has lived in Asia, Europe and the United States, but is particularly inspired the unique nature, senses, and colours of Seattle; the city she refers to as her “ultimate home.”
“The more I travel, the more I love coming home,” says Yang. “Seattle is a combination of all the beauty I’ve seen in my travels. We have the beauty of nature and the beauty of architecture, and being surrounded by all this is a dream come true.”
Yang designs her ready-to-wear collections from a secret downtown Seattle studio with a view of Elliott Bay against a backdrop of the Olympic Mountains.
Alaska Airlines says that the uniform design project has been developing “under cover” over the past few months, interviewing service agents, flight attendants and pilots on the feel and functionality of their current uniforms under the guise of a research project.
“She interviewed pilots about how their shirt collars feel against their necks, spoke with flight attendants about how their shirts move when they raise their arms overhead to open or close overhead bins,” the airline states.
“From the moment I first met her, I knew she truly understood Alaska and our unique needs as an airline,” said Sangita Woerner, Alaska’s vice president of marketing. “With her design philosophy of finding the harmony of form and function, she is the perfect designer to ensure our 12,000 uniformed employees express our refreshed brand in a thoughtful and distinctive way.”
Yang’s designs are considered timeless with a signature fit, cultivated by her experience as an architectural graphic designer, balancing between “design and engineering.”
Yang’s work on Alaska Airlines’ new uniforms will be extended over the next two years to dress the airline’s entire uniformed workforce and are expected to debut by 2018.
“The uniform has to perform, it has to represent the brand and it has to represent the soul of the employees who wear it,” said Yang, a frequent flier with Alaska. “I’ve been fascinated with flying ever since I was a child, so I’m very inspired by this project. Alaska is my airline, and every time I board an Alaska Airlines flight I feel as though I am already home.”
Yang will transition from her preliminary research already conducted to formal focus groups with Alaska’s pilots, flight attendants, airport staff (which will include customer service, ground service, ramp and lounge employees), aircraft technicians and stores agents. The objective of the focus groups will be to help the designer better understand the specialised needs of each of these airline employees according to the functions they must perform day-to-day.
“In starting this project, I’m beginning to learn about the details that go into making the complex process from check-in to baggage claim hassle-free for customers. These are the things I used to take for granted when flying,” said Yang. “While our goal is to create a beautiful, timeless uniform line, I’ve also realized that some of the most important features you won’t see from the outside are going to be instrumental in making a difference in seamless job performance for employees.”
The airline’s updated look will include the brand’s fresh new colour palette, the airline’s new streamlined and the iconic face of the warm greeting Eskimo who graces the tails of Alaska’s airplanes.
Alaska’s new branding will be introduced throughout 2016, on new airplane liveries, all digital channels, marketing materials, and at customer touchpoints at the 111 airports served by Alaska and its regional partners.