United Airlines employees are about to get brand new wardrobes courtesy of one of America’s leading workwear brands.
On Tuesday, Carhartt and Chicago-based carrier announced a partnership to outfit 28,000 of its catering operations, ramp service and technical operations employees in uniforms created specifically for the working conditions they endure.
To that end, Carhartt Company Gear, the firm’s business-facing uniform branch, worked directly with approximately 1,000 United employees to create a collection of workwear essentials designed to excel on the job.
“Our goal is to work collaboratively with companies to outfit their entire operation with the best gear that fits their specific needs and based on the feedback we’ve received from those on the front lines at United, the new uniforms are working hard for each and every one of them,” Andi Donovan, senior vice president of Carhartt Company Gear, said in a statement.
The 50-piece collection includes input from domestic and international workers, resulting in features like bottoms with custom pockets to fit airline-specific tools like runway wands. Color-blocking was also incorporated into high-visibility runway apparel, increasing the surface area of reflective materials and decreasing the chance that dirt and grime obscure the possibly life-saving safety feature.
The Carhartt x United uniforms are also inclusive of women, with an emphasis on ensuring proper fit and function for a variety of body types, the apparel maker said.
“This is more than a fashion statement for United Airlines,” Kate Gebo, executive vice president of human resources and labor relations with carrier, said. “This highly inclusive design process reflects how highly we value the input of our employees and union leadership.”
The new deal with Carhartt is part of a larger effort by United to refresh its uniforms. The airline is set to partner with brands like Tracy Reese and Brooks Brothers to outfit flight attendants, pilots and customer service representatives, United said, promising to continue its focus on employee feedback. More information about those deals is expected by the summer.
The emphasis on collecting input from airline workers should play well in the industry considering the recent snafu regarding illness-inducing uniforms at Delta. In April of 2019, the Guardian reported that flight attendants employed by Delta Airlines were suffering from rashes and chemical burns caused by uniforms distributed by Delta and manufactured by Land’s End, with some even complaining of shortness of breath and hair loss—possibly as a result of wrinkle-reducing formaldehyde resin.
That was far from the only uproar over airline uniforms, however. A Vox report published in July of the same year found that Delta, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have all had issues with uniform quality control over the last decade.