#1025 …and all the Trelise Cooper designed Air New Zealand men’s uniforms

Trelise Cooper’s men’s Air New Zealand uniforms have already received praise from one Air New Zealand staff member, who said she thought they were “very professional”. Well lady, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I wouldn’t want Toyota to design a new aeroplane. Why? Because they’re car makers. So why did Air New Zealand commission a renowned womenswear designer to design a men’s uniform? It just doesn’t make sense.

We have several top menswear creators in New Zealand – Crane Brothers, Working Style, hell, even Barkers would have made more sense. Murray Crane revealed on his blog this morning that he was approached, but he chose to decline. The reason, which he shared with me, was that they wanted him to come up with a concept for the male and female staff members. I repeat, it doesn’t make sense. Why not get a womenswear and a menswear designer to work alongside each other to create a uniform that works for everybody? Obviously because that would have made too much sense.

The four-button suit jacket is a travesty. A typical men’s suit has two or three buttons. Suits you find four buttons on are the ones your cousin Cletus hires for his wedding day. From the wrong type of store. It’s simple. Men should not wear four button blazers. Look at how high the lapel break is. It just looks silly. If anything, they should have gone ultra conservative. Never try something ‘new’ or ‘quirky’ with menswear. Never!

Then there’s the fat tie. The ill-fitting three quarter length coat. The (once again) wedding-esque waistcoat with that tiny lapel. The fluro blue tie which looks like something out of Air Babylon. Or Mile High.

Like I said, I have nothing against the women’s uniforms. But seriously. Something has to be done about these men’s uniforms. It just ain’t right.


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  1. Adam says

    Well, Isaac for a start.. Two designers working alongside one another would be chaos. Especially the likes of Trelise Cooper and Menswear expert Murray Crane.

    That being said though…I have to agree with you that Cooper just hasn’t hit the mark with the Mens line at all.

    As you mentioned, a combination of ill fit and poor overall design choice make for one tacky uniform. The only aspect that brings each look together is the vertical pin-stripe which in itself over done in my opinion.

  2. Anonymous says

    I doubt Trelise has had much to do with this. This is Rob’s mob and their bungling baffoonery hiding behind the Cooper brand.

    Trelise, if you read this I have some well intended advice.

    Withdraw your services from Air New Zealand while you still have the opportunity, or the brand that you have worked very hard to create, and the good reputation you have deservedly earned, will be forever tarnished in the same way Elizabeth Findlay’s has.

  3. says

    Agree with Emma (above). What is going on with that waistcoat. What are those images? Craaaaaaazzzzy.

    Plus too many stripes. It’s stripe-o-rama.

  4. Anonymous says

    the tie? the back of the waistcoat? and the suit jacket just looks awkward and ill fitting to me. the overcoat is again awkward and doesn’t look right at the bottom.. overall it’s the waistcoat I have big issues with. Honestly, I’ve always toyed with the idea of running away and becoming a flight attendant, but the womens uniforms completely put me off this dream. It is hideous, but then, I expected worse from Trelise Cooper.

  5. says

    It’s like a newsreader circa 2000, combined with Ellerslie Cup day bogan fashion. Was Peter Andre involved in the design process?

  6. Anonymous says

    I like the second and third photos. I don’t, in principle, agree with the comment that, when designing for men, it is inherently wrong to do something ‘new’ or quirky. We’d still be wearing calico togas.

    Feels like the old nz tall poppy trim to me.

    I like new !

    Pierre St Emilion

  7. says

    I may not have articulated myself properly.

    Whenever designers attempt to reinvent menswear, it nearly always fails. (Unless it’s being reinvented by a genius like Hedi Slimane.) Otherwise, it always just looks fruity or camp or ridiculous.

    Trelise Cooper isn’t a menswear designer. Therefore, her reinvention of a classic menswear piece like a suit jacket is going to be hindered by her lack of knowledge of menswear. You can’t break the rules until you know them first.

    It’s like the wheel – some things are better left as they are.

  8. Anonymous says

    The concept of a signature uniform item within a corporate uniform was invented by Morrissey with the Rock Print for Qantas. Mr Morrissey got it very right by keeping the palette and cuts very flattering through sharp simplicity.

    But Air New Zealand’s pink or green aberration with black scribbles is just awful. Its not even edgy. The image is rotund and obtuse.

    The Qantas uniform, set the benchmark for aerosexual glamour.

    I don’t know what to make of Air NZ’s latest, it’s just a vulgar juxtaposition. Your pictures reveal the basics of branding and couture are missing.

    And the poor boys, agree with you there. Nothing is right with the buttons, lapels, fat 70s tie, the conflicting stripes. There seems to be far too many layers, it will be too hot to wear.

    Poor Air NZ staff being seen in this around the world. How arrogant the snubbing of best practice by its managers. One assumes this will be underwritten by laying off more staff while the pink shirted CEO collects another million dollar bonus.

    How does the airline get the fundamentals so wrong.

  9. Anonymous says

    If there are different body shapes for the cabin crew then it is only ill fitting to some, and perfect to others.
    They just chose the incorrect models for the clothing size.

  10. Anonymous says

    Just want to say that one should bear in mind that these pictures are professionally done. They must be. Its not like someone just went in there, suited up some random staff members and took some snap shots. And if it is staff members, then they would have been carefully chosen. And yes, if both the male and female models look frumpy and the clothes fit badly on these individuals then can you imagine what they’re going to look like on the “ordinary people” that are supposed to wear them for 12 hours in the air?

  11. TonyG (Air NZ Gold Elite FF) says

    This brief should never have been handed on a plate to local designers, like NZ architects foisting their disasters on our cities,local designers just aren`t up to it.Period.Don`t care if you accuse me of Tall Poppy Syndrome (like, `racism`, a much overused accusation in NZ to avoid accountability for ones actions).Trelise,luv, its one thing to design for wealthy teletubbies with their saggy, booze-boobs (Osti-frocks for the rich,40-something matron from Havelock North?)Quite another to design a corporate uniform.Get some help, please! This brief should have been, could still be, opened to international tender/ oversight; to get the very best out there(e.g. Balenciaga uniforme or even J-P Gaultier for `aerosexual glamour`)But to be fair to Trelise, no uniform is going to suit all body types. A `pig in lipstick` is still a pig at the end of the day and a lot of the staff themselves must start to take responsibility for how they present themelves(Hint: a beer gut and scuffed shoes that could do with a damn good polish is a non-starter for this pax. Personally witnessed on a long haul flight only recently- a male FA looking like an out of work real estate agent.A stylish uniform just can`t fix that!) I don`t care about the age of an FA and I certainly don`t expect you to be Singapore Girl nor Americas Next Top Model neither but I do expect you to have some pride in your appearance.Firstly, I want you to look good and feel good about yourselves. Happy staff give great service,but some staff I`ve encountered do not look happy in their work and some have reached their `Best Before` date. Perhaps the money would be better spent by airline giving assistance to make some healthy lifestyle choices. And perhaps some life-coaching. Whatever uniform is finally decided on, it should have classic good tailoring and not be fashion driven – it is a massive investment by the airline afterall and cannot afford to be merely `contemporary` or rabid `kiwiana kitsch`. It must be elegant and timeless. See Air France uniforms for hints on how its done or even SQ if you really must! (but the SQ girl- look just appeals to overweight, lecherous old male passengers).

  12. Anonymous says

    I really wish people wouldn’t use Balenciaga as an example of international designers working on airline uniforms, the Air Tahiti Nui uniform was created by Balenciaga Uniforms, which bought the license to work under this name from a presumably cash strapped house back in the 80’s a long time before our beloved Nicolas Ghesquière was on the scene. As for my 5 cents worth, I can live with the women’s (just) but the men’s is a travesty…

  13. says

    Toooo many stripes. And although there is some variation in body typs/shapes it isn’t that much.
    Certainly, the kind of sturdier man who pulls pinstripes and a fat tie (Denny Crane, Duncan Garner) are not going to be working for Air New Zealand.

  14. says

    The back of the waistcoat looks like it was copied from a souvenir tea towel. It reminds me of something an ice-cream counter worker would wear.

    I would have to agree with all of Isaac’s observations about the menswear uniform, so I won’t bother repeating it all.

    Such a pity AirNZ didn’t get a menswear designer or colab’ for the uniform.

  15. Anonymous says

    I quite like the back of the waistcoat – I’d be happy to wear one similar to work (although agree it buttons too high at the front). But it probably would work better as a one off piece then part of a uniform worn by several people on the same aeroplane.

  16. Anonymous says

    Is it too late for Trelise to back out of this before her entire empire comes crashing down?

    The menswear is a total shambles, rather than taking a classic approach she has tried to be ‘different’ and ‘quirky’ but it just looks stupid. The womens dresses looks like a kid has binged on candy floss and licorice then vomited all over a 3/4 length nana dress.

    Sure Zambesi got some things wrong, but this is a fashion massacre. As Karen Walker once told me herself – “you cant polish a turd.”

  17. Anonymous says

    Oh dear, what have you done Trelise! This is a total abomination that would make me squirm to be a kiwi aboard Air NZ, let alone be a male flight attendant. Are you trying to design for ‘Lizard of Oz’ airlines or Air NZ? Concept of the pin striped suit generally conveys professionalism but, oh, the ties, the 4 buttoned suit with high lapel! All that you need to complete the comical look is one of those hideous novelty ties featuring mickey mouse or a big ‘Rolling Stones’-tongue styled tie. All the comments here are like an altimeter warning sounding off loudly in the cockpit “pull up! “pull up!”

  18. Sam says

    I was quietly scrolling down this post with a look of disapproval on my face until I got to the picture and exclaimed “OH GOD!” at the top of my voice. That waistcoat is HIDEOUS!

  19. Anonymous says

    There is no way that Flight Attendants have had an open say with this design. We’d never recommend something that is darker and going to be hotter than the current uniform.

    I don’t have a problem with the blues and greens as such, it’s nice to see them back, more of it please, but not those shades and those cuts (laughed at the Mile High comment but so true).

    Waistcoat – nice idea – but completely impractical. The aircraft cabins are so hot now since the company took out the air ducting to save weight for the inflight entertainment. The 747s have known temperature problems, so it’s going to be impossible to wear this. What I mean is with a waistcoat and jacket the men’s uniform has just turned into a 3 piece suit. The extra button at the top makes it even hotter. And such a dark unfriendly fabric. There’s no way we can wear it, it’ll be just too hot.

    Does this mean the tie is back as compulsory and not an option? If so that’s good. No tie with the Zambesi just looks shabby.

    Design opinions aside, in practical terms it just can’t be worn. I never thought I would say it but I would rather stay with the current uniform than this.

    We’ve all been so looking forward to some good news on the uniform, but these pictures are making my stomach turn. And I feel real sorry for the girls too.

    Trelise, you’re a top lady, and great at what you do but please don’t let the airline do this to us.

  20. Anonymous says

    I personally think the designs are stunning!! The pink dress, the men’s waistcoat… everything. That said, I think they will need refining and no doubt there will be changes when the final uniform is revealed but as they are now or rather the concept is great!!

  21. Anonymous says

    Me thinks Air NZ’s PR machine is making the rounds of the blogs doing damage control. Watch for 4/5 line positive spin pushing a big lie that the uniform is a ‘concept’ when in fact it is a ‘final concept’. No mention that the ‘final concept’ concept is going to be scrapped altogether. Eyes wide open to you 185 Fanshawe.

  22. Anonymous says

    well, the gossip in the trade is certainly rife ……. and a little birdie just informed me, that Trelise Cooper’s now out. Did she quit the contract with Air NZ or did Air NZ sack her ? Must keep my ear to the ground (or is that wall?) !

  23. Ecoline says

    Hilarious. Four buttons is a “travesty”, yet infantilizing, window-drape recalling, utterly unprofessional, Barbie-pink dresses are alright.
    Pardon me if I draw my conclusions, here.

  24. Anonymous says

    Give Trelise a break, I’d love to see you guys try do her job, and get given this job to design the uniforms.

  25. Anonymous says

    Give Trelise a break?


    How pompous!

    She’s a VENDOR. Just like any other. She’s selling a product and like any vendor she is judged by what the customer wants.

    500 people don’t want it.

    By all means, give me her job and you’ll get an airline uniform that people will WANT to wear.

  26. Chris Chetham says

    Hey, i agree with most of your comments regarding the mens uniform.
    I work for an international arab airline who has just had their uniforms changed from a 90’s double breast jacket to a classic 3 button. the colours are neutral and natural. it is simple elegant and smart. My point is “LESS IS MORE”

    although i love the Air NZ product these uniforms project an over-worked idea that sees a mass produced, cheaper more affordable cut/fabric/design in the hopes that they will appear to be pioneers in the market.

    the gaudy bright colours and busy prints are too distracting. and uneasy on the eye.

    Cabin interior/staff uniforms should be smart, elegant, and classic like timeless fashion.
    warm and inviting with natural lighting and pleasant colours.

    The previous uniform with the natural tones was much more appropriate, representing a natural image for the airline and country.

    The Airline is number 5 in the world, it offers so much and with minor changes could be number 1.
    All the best

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