Glocalization: From Emirates to Air India, Airline Uniform Design Bolsters Nation Branding

Airlines around the world have deployed glocalism, a combination of regionalization and globalization, which provides new motives concerning the creation of diverse designs through the ages of universal design in constantly globalized trends. The essence of glocalization is “think globally, act locally”.

This is reflected in the uniform of flight attendants to strongly pursue high value on the formation of a positive image to sustain their customer attraction – non-verbal communications using emotionally implying corporate messages or identities through visual methods. Uniforms of flight attendants describe the distinguished implications of each airline company. They have a close relationship with present trends of glocalism by reflecting regional characteristics.

Cabin Crew Course in Goa - AME CET

A study highlighted that each airline uses a uniform as a visual element to convey the corporate image more effectively when providing cabin services and the glocalism trend apparent in uniforms can be identified for each design element. For example, the uniforms of Emirates and Etihad Airways highlight the formal properties of the veil that females living in the United Arab Emirates wear conventionally. “There are different names and types of veils that females in the Islamic culture wear depending on regions, performing the practical function of blocking the sunlight and sandblast, and an esthetic function of evoking a graceful ambiance as long fabric swings.”

India’s national airline, Air India, is another great example. Its uniforms blend rich Indian heritage, contemporary style, elegance, and comfort. Campbell Wilson, CEO and Managing Director at Air India, said the airline’s crew uniforms are amongst the world’s most storied in aviation history. “It perfectly captures the essence of our new identity, service principles, and our pursuit of setting new benchmarks in global aviation.”

Cabin crew members at Finnair | Finnair

Air India’s female cabin crew attire, as per The Design Air, features a ready-to-wear ombre saree with intricate patterns reminiscent of Indian heritage architecture and the new Air India logo icon, paired with a comfortable blouse and blazer. The ready-to-wear sarees can be optionally worn with comfortable pants, which provides greater flexibility to the female cabin crew to choose the style they most identify with and brings a unique East-meets-West look.

On the other hand, Air France has helped brand the country as the world’s fashion hub. The flight staff has worn exclusive ensembles by who-is-who of houte couture – Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga, Jean Patou, and Nina Ricci, among others. Etihad, in 2014, took over the frequent flyer scene with couture uniforms designed by Ettore Bilotta. This helped transform Abu Dhabi’s image as a fashion-forward emirate. Bilotta also helped bring change to Kuwait Airlines, Alitalia, and Turkish Airlines with his designs.

Australia’s Qantas Airways incorporated patterns conceived from the cultural heritage of the local Aborigines. And the patterns in Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines were designed by the Batik method which is one of the representative dyeing techniques of Southeast Asia regions. The Batik tradition was combined with modern attire, adopted for the nation’s official garments afterward.

Air India unveils new uniforms for cabin crew - The Hindu

Experts say glocalism in flight attendants’ uniform design is based on localities or cultural components. It brings about an open-minded view and new directions for airline uniform design which visualizes corporate images, and the expression tendency of glocalism in flight attendants’ uniforms.

Overall, the glocalism trends discovered through the airline uniform design and color palettes represent the images of nations or natural environments with which the airlines are affiliated.

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