It seems like every time you turn around one of the major airlines is announcing the launch of brand-new uniforms. Such launches often come with plenty of fanfare and glitzy runway glamour. And more often than not, the uniforms in question are intended for customer-facing personnel like ticket agents, pilots, and flight attendants.
All of these uniforms also have one thing in common: they are pretty. That is to say they are designed with the understanding that the general public will see them often enough to associate them with an airline’s brand. But what about airline employees whose jobs are not customer-facing? Do they ever get new uniforms? They do, and said uniforms are not always pretty.
New Uniforms at United
United Airlines is the latest major airline to announce new uniforms. This time however, the uniforms are intended for catering, ramp service, and tech operations employees. These are the employees who work behind the scenes to make sure flights come and go on schedule. They are rarely seen by the general public.
Their new uniforms are not exactly ugly, but they were not designed primarily for public consumption either. United worked with Carhartt to design a new line of uniforms perfectly suited to the work environment of those who wear them – particularly workers who are exposed to winter weather.
You guessed it; the new line of uniforms is for winter work. Carhartt was the perfect partner to assist in designing them given their reputation for manufacturing hearty winter clothing suitable for construction workers and other laborers who spend the majority of their time outdoors.
For United’s behind-the-scenes workers, there were plenty of needs to be addressed. At the top of the list was coming up with clothing that offers proper protection against the elements. Next, exterior garments had to be able to withstand the rigors of airline work. Finally, the garments had to be comfortable enough to wear without interfering with worker productivity.
The Epitome of Workwear
While others might focus on the fashion aspects of United’s new uniforms, Alsco is intrigued by their workwear qualities. Alsco is a Salt Lake City linen and uniform services provider. They are also the company that gave birth to uniform rental in the U.S. more than 120 years ago.
As Alsco explains, the classical definition of workwear is protective clothing worn by certain kinds of employees in demanding environments. Classical workwear is traditionally heavy-duty clothing that offers a level of protection you cannot get from street clothes or business suits.
It is interesting to note that the fashion industry has co-opted the term ‘workwear’ and now uses it to describe any clothing worn at work. For those who subscribe to the classical definition though, United’s new uniforms are the epitome thereof.
When Protection is More Important
Again, it must be noted that the new United uniforms are not ugly by any stretch. They actually look quite professional and even a bit stylish. But what is most important is that they offer workers extra protection against all sorts of things. The tarmac of any major airport offers a perfect illustration of why such protection is so important.
There are certain jobs that come with inherent dangers. Whether it is extreme weather, heavy equipment, or even possible exposure to chemicals and contaminants, workers in these environments need clothing that protects them first and foremost. Whether or not it is pretty matters not.
By now, United workers are all wearing their winter gear. They are probably loving it, too. There is nothing quite like a heavy-duty workwear uniform that keeps you warm and safe.