American Airlines is turning to Lands' End to replace uniforms that employees blamed for health problems and which left the airline and the previous supplier facing a lawsuit.
Those uniforms, introduced in 2016 and made by Twin Hill, led to thousands of complaints from flight attendants and crew members who said they caused hives, wheezing, vertigo and headaches. American ultimately agreed to seek a new supplier.
Before choosing Wisconsin-based Lands' End, which is also making uniforms for Delta Air Lines, American sought proposals and conducted site visits domestically and abroad, executives at American and union leaders said Tuesday in a letter to employees. Members of the uniform committee and union leaders will begin making fabric and color choices, and the airline expects to begin testing the clothing as early as October.
"Our focus has always been, and will continue to be, providing a uniform that all frontline team members feel comfortable wearing," executives and union leaders said in the letter.
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As part of the wear-testing process, about 1,000 employees in a range of roles and regions will try out the uniforms. American expects it will be about two years before the uniforms will be ready for all 51,000 employees, spokeswoman Leslie Scott said.
Lands' End CEO Jerome Griffith said in a statement that the company is "thrilled to be partnering with American Airlines."
"The two companies share a strong commitment to their loyal customers and hold their employees in the highest regard," Griffith said.
American's pilots, however, are still looking for a new uniform supplier. When American agreed to seek replacement uniforms over the summer, each group of employees had the option to independently pick a supplier, Scott said.
In the meantime, airline employees can choose to wear the Twin Hill uniforms or an approved alternative.
Twin Hill said it will continue to provide uniforms until its contract ends in 2020.
"We remain confident of the quality and integrity of our products, and have committed ourselves to working closely with the company through the transition," the uniform-maker said Wednesday in an emailed statement.
The lawsuit over the uniforms, which was filed by 11 employees in August, is pending in U.S. District Court in Chicago.