FLYING HIGH: Alaska Airlines gave independent designer Luly Yang one tall order — creating uniforms for 19,000 Alaska, Virgin America and Horizon Air employees.
The Seattle-based company unveiled her creations during a fashion show in Alaska’s Sea-Tac hangar with employees walking a runway to showcase 90-plus garments and accessories. They were playing to a familiar crowd — thousands of other employees.
The company had reason to celebrate since the Federal Aviation Administration just approved a single operating certificate earlier this week, greenlighting the integration of the two airlines. Alaska closed its $2.6 billion purchase of Virgin America about a year ago.
Thousands of employees have been surveyed about their preferences, needs and suggestions, and focus groups were also held. More than anything, staffers asked for more pockets and seasonless silhouettes that flattered a variety of body types. To accommodate the ever-changing climates that airline crews travel to, the new uniforms are meant to be layered. Yang reportedly went undercover for six months in 2016, flying Alaska Airlines and quizzing employees about their uniforms under the premise that she was working on a research project. Their new looks will be officially rolled out starting in late 2019. But next week 130 pilots, flight attendants, customer service agents and lounge employees will begin wear testing the uniforms next week. Meant to be in synch with the rest of the company’s branding, the uniform collection features bright pops of color, clean lines and interesting finishes.
The fact that Yang is a local designer was a selling point with Alaska, since the airline markets a number of Seattle-made products to passengers. Yang started her career in couture with a focus on cocktail and eveningwear and has expanded into bridal, men’s wear and hotel uniforms. She opened her first studio boutique in Seattle in 2000. In 2015, she introduced two lines for more day-in, day-out dressing — Luly Yang and Luly. The designer’s Luly label now include ready-to-wear, cashmere knits and leather accessories. Her experience as an architectural graphic designer has caused her to take a “Form and Function” approach to her work.