Emilia Wickstead named to create next Air New Zealand uniform

6 November 2023
By Fashion Quarterly

After months of speculation it was finally revealed this morning that London-based Kiwi fashion designer Emilia Wickstead will create the new uniform for Air New Zealand.

Known for using traditional techniques to create modern silhouettes, her designs have been worn by A-listers around the world including The Duchess of Cambridge, actress Lily James and Lady Gaga (to name only a few!).  

Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty says Emilia stood out after the selection panel. 

“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.”

“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.” 

Emilia Wickstead says it’s a privilege to be selected as the next Air New Zealand uniform designer. 

“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.”

In conversation with Emilia Wickstead

Wickstead took the stage dressed head to toe in her eponymously named clothing, wearing the Anastasia Green Shetland Houndstooth Dress from the recent fall/winter collection, with Emilia Wickstead black sling backs. 

Later, she told FQ’s editor in chief Sarah Murray about what an honour it would be to design the new uniforms. 

“For me it comes from such a special place – it’s my heritage, it’s where I’m from. It’s like coming full circle – returning home and returning to my roots. And bringing my family back [from London]. My journey has taken me abroad but it’s such a beautiful thing to come back and to work on this project.” 

“I love uniforms. I love how a uniform can be like ‘one team, one dream’. I look forward to seeing how it brings everyone together and I hope that everyone feels extremely proud and empowered by this uniform.”

Although the designs are still under wraps, Wickstead says we can expect bold colour, great fit, and attention to detail. 

“There is definitely going to be a print and a tribute to Maori heritage. It will feel very New Zealand.”

What we can expect from the designer’s collection

“My approach to the uniform centres around a deep respect for New Zealand’s cultural heritage,” Wickstead says. “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 instil a sense of pride and purpose in Air New Zealand’s incredible, world-class team.”

Emilia Wickstead designs have a timeless quality which will likely see these uniforms age well, yet be distinctive enough to make their mark. The designer selection was made following a competitive pitch process involving a number of leading New Zealand designers who were asked to consider key selection criteria including sustainability, functionality, safety, and te ao Māori culture.

 Next steps? Air New Zealand will collaborate with Emilia 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.

Our big question is, how do we nab ourselves one? 

Words: Sarah Murray
Images: Supplied

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