Air New Zealand has selected Kiwi fashion designer Emilia Wickstead to create its new staff uniform to be launched in 2024.
Wickstead, who was born in New Zealand but is based in the United Kingdom (UK), is a renowned figure in the fashion world and counts the Duchess of Cornwall Kate Middleton and the former United States First Lady Melania Trump as fans.
Kate Middleton has stepped out in clothing created by Wickstead on numerous occasions over the years and it is understood that she is one of the Royal Family members’ favorite designers.
“We received expressions of interest from more than 40 New Zealand designers and heard pitches from the country’s leading design talent, showcasing the depth and breadth of New Zealand fashion, making it an incredibly tough decision. Ultimately, Emilia stood out as the perfect partner,” Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said.
Geraghty added: “Emilia presented outstanding initial designs that were creative, unique, will set Air New Zealand apart on the global stage. She also demonstrated her understanding of the importance in creating a uniform that is both functional and comfortable for our people.”
Wickstead was selected after Air New Zealand announced in May 2023 that it was accepting pitches from designers to create the new uniforms. The current design has been in place for 12 years.
New Zealand designers were asked to consider key selection criteria including sustainability, functionality, safety, and te ao Māori.
“I could not be prouder, or more excited, to have been selected as Air New Zealand’s next uniform designer. This is a true passion project for me; one that further connects me with my homeland Aotearoa, and the community and places that I love,” fashion designer Wickstead said. “My approach to the uniform centers around a deep respect for New Zealand’s cultural heritage. First and foremost, it is inspired by people. I’m a big believer that clothing can be transformative, uplifting and empowering, and my hope is that the new uniforms will instill a sense of pride and purpose in Air New Zealand’s incredible, world-class team.”
The designer said that the new uniforms will be “tempered with creative twists and innovation” to create a “distinctive uniform that will stand out for years to come”.
The next phase of the project will see Air New Zealand collaborate closely with Wickstead for design refinements, onboard trials, and uniform wearer consultation before the final designs are revealed in late 2024.
The Emilia Wickstead Air New Zealand uniforms will be rolled out progressively to more than 5,000 Air New Zealand cabin crew, front of house ground staff, and pilots over the next few years.
“Emilia has built an incredibly successful brand, designing for some of the most high-profile customers in the world and we think our people deserve to be dressed by the very best too. We’re thrilled to have Emilia onboard and couldn’t be prouder to welcome her to the Air New Zealand whānau,” Geraghty said.