Dressed to impress: Qantas switches to new uniform

By David Flynn, December 12 2013

Travellers on a handful of Qantas overnight flights this week undoubtedly did a double-take when they awoke to see the crew wearing different uniforms to when the flight began.

It was a case of out with the old – the familiar togs with an Aboriginal print which debuted in 2003 – and in with the new as crew did an inflight swap to chic threads designed by Martin Grant in sync with over 11,000 other Qantas employees around the world.

35 individual pieces make up the new Qantas look. Georges Antony
35 individual pieces make up the new Qantas look
Georges Antony

Melbourne-born but Paris-based designer Martin Grant predictably ditched the Aboriginal prints of the current kit in favour of clean European-inspired cuts based on a dusky French navy incorporating elements of 'Qantas red' with the odd playful fuchsia pink highlight.

Ruby red and fuchsia pink offer eye-catching highlights against the French navy base. Mark Sherborne/Qantas
Ruby red and fuchsia pink offer eye-catching highlights against the French navy base
Mark Sherborne/Qantas

"When I first started off I took the Qantas red and I ended up with red, white and blue which was a combination that I love but was far too obvious, and also regularly used" Grant told Australian Business Traveller earlier this year.

Miranda Kerr and Martin Grant at the uniform's launch earlier this year. Mark Sherborne, Qantas
Miranda Kerr and Martin Grant at the uniform's launch earlier this year
Mark Sherborne, Qantas

"The dark navy base is very chic, a little bit less serious than the black, and mixed beautifully with the red" Grant explains. "This colour scheme is also about adding something to the red so it's a little more contemporary."

"Pink was a way of staying in that palette of the reds, and mixing the pink and the darker reds so it keeps it in the family" Grant adds. "Fuschia is generally crew-friendly, even a little bit more frivolous."

Miranda Kerr rocks the Red Roo's new look. Mark Sherborne/Qantas
Miranda Kerr rocks the Red Roo's new look
Mark Sherborne/Qantas

(The baggage handlers miss out on that pink scarf, although they do get neatly tailored shorts and polo shirts.)

The uniform's stand-out element is a red triangle inspired by the tail of Qantas aircraft. "I decided to go with a very bold graphical element which would stand the test of time" Grant says.

"And because the Qantas logo has stood the test of time, I knew it would work for the uniform."

This vivid flash of red appears on the women's tops, the men's ties and the turned-down lapel of the unisex coat.

And then there's that hat – a trilby in knitted fabric made from recycled bottle tops.

“I didn't try and push it to a specifically Australian aesthetic” Grant says of his design. “I thought we already have Qantas being Australian – that is almost enough.”

As the cornerstone of his design, Grant says “I kept coming back to Qantas and the Qantas logo and the image that we all have of Qantas, which is the red triangle, the tail of the aircraft with the flying kangaroo."

“For me, if not the best airline logo, it is one of the strongest international logos. When you see it in the international ports it has a very strong impact."

This video shot by Qantas captures the 'fashion show' launch of the uniform earlier this year.


Photo gallery: Qantas uniforms – 65 years of high-flying fashion

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

19 Jan 2012

Total posts 427

I'm hearing that QF is pulling back from hyping up the new look given their curent circumstances - could just be gossip of course...

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 662

i'm sure  media/social media will  devote their time/resources to the cause ... EVERYONE has a 'camera' nowadays!! i expect lots of pics appearing all over media/online/social sites without QF paying a cent for the publicity...whether comments  be good or not so good...it still gets pics out there!!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 335

If you've been on their Facebook page today, seen their new advert or stepped foot into Sydney Airport these last few days you'll see they definately aren't pulling back from hyping it up

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 662

to me...that's just adverstising...not hype in my mind....'hype' is having a creepy bearded eccentric businessman surrounded by girls....reminiscent of 'another airline'  

19 Jan 2012

Total posts 427

Email stuff received today...change on the way...could be cover for more FF enhancements...

23 Nov 2012

Total posts 24

No one wants to hear it, no one wants to say it, but this is the proverbial changing deck chairs on the Titanic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 246

@AussieGuest, not only will I hear it and say it, I will also agree with you.

I'm far from an expert in corporate Australia, but Qantas's decision making is shit. Why would you spend what must be $100k's on side shows like new uniforms, wine magazines etc. When you have your hand out to the Feds for bail out money.

If I were in AJ's shoes, the first thing I'd do is what Jack Welsh of GE famously did. Cut anything that isn't performing and anything that isn't directly contributing to the company being a kick ass airline.

06 Feb 2013

Total posts 12

@Jono Firstly, this is the 11th time QF has changed their unifrom in 93 years. It's cyclical. Believe it or not, a business has to stay fresh and relevant to stay competitive. Consider 1 A380 costs $300 million. Uniforms motivate staff and passengers alike. Secondly, QF does not have their hand out - They're not Holden. Never been propped up. Don't believe the media hype, this is part of an long term strategic challenge in a highly competitive environment. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 246

@Octane Fair point on the change of uniforms. I guess a refresh is always handy, I just think they could have timed it better for media purposes.

So the phrase 'hand out' was possibly a bad way of describing what I meant. I just don't like businesses that try (or blame) regulate or legislate themselves into success. There are plenty of media companies that don't like the fact the ABC is government funded. There are plenty of youth hostels that don't like how YHA are still a not for profit.

There are two examples of industries going through the same issue. For what it's worth, I'm anti-Qantas Sales Act. As patriotic as I am, I don't think playing the nationalism card can get you as many brownie points as it perhaps should.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 279

I'll say 12th time Uniform has changed if you count Australian Airlines 1986 to 1993 before the Merger took place.But will it change anything.Personally the money they wasted on choirs amongst other things could have been used elsewhere.

19 Jan 2012

Total posts 427

If you think QF isn't propped up by the government you are living in fantasy world!

Virgin Australia

16 Feb 2013

Total posts 16

Looks to much like Essendon's stripe... you know the bunch of drug cheats that even when suspended continue to break the rules... bad move within Australia.

Another reason not to fly Qantas for me.

24 Jun 2012

Total posts 2

Forget about new uniforms,how about new service on the plane,compared to Cathay its second rate!

19 Jan 2012

Total posts 427

Exactly...the service regimen on the route I most frequently fly appears to have been downgraded. Go figure - they are already paying the cabin crew to be on the fight, but giving them less to do (so they are less productive) to save a glass of wine and a bag of nuts per business class customer. 

19 Jan 2012

Total posts 427

I really dislike the way the new branding has carried over to the web site. The pink looks garish, the new typeface kindergarten...

Qf is moving the brand down market whilst VA is moving their brand upmarket!

QF now looks cheaper than VA.

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