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American Airlines employees getting high-fashion accessories with uniforms

American Airlines has redesigned the uniforms for its pilots, flight attendants and customer service agents. The new uniforms will debut later this fall.
American Airlines has redesigned the uniforms for its pilots, flight attendants and customer service agents. The new uniforms will debut later this fall.

A new outfit requires accessories, right?

On Thursday, American Airlines announced it will give 52,000 employees free Cole Haan accessories as it rolls out new uniforms for pilots, flight attendants and customer service agents. The Fort Worth-based carrier will begin shipping 2 million uniforms to employees by the end of the week.

“We wanted to try a line of accessories and handbags and attachés that really sort of complimented the uniform but also gave employees the ability to really feel proud of where the brand is going,” said Fernand Fernandez, American’s vice president of global marketing.

American hired fashion designers KAUFMANFRANCO in 2013 to develop new uniforms for the airline’s front-line employees. However, the initial set of prototypes were considered drab and ill-fitting so the carrier worked with employee groups to develop new designs that were tested last fall.

$300 to $500 retail price of similar leather handbags and attaché cases

Female employees will receive a handbag and scarves while male employees will get an attaché case and pocket squares, the company said. American employees will begin wearing the new uniforms on Sept. 20 but are receiving them this summer in case they need to have alterations made. Fernandez said alterations will be offered for free at Men’s Wearhouse.

Fernandez would not reveal how much American is spending on the free accessories for employees although he said similar handbags and Saffiano leather attaché cases retail for between $300 and $500. The bags were designed to hold iPads that are used by flight crews and other electronic devices that employees regularly use at work.

The company will also offer a co-branded line of additional accessories from American and Cole Haan for purchase that are only available to employees and their family and friends. Fernandez said the fashion retailer will offer products at discounted prices for employees during flash sales held twice a year.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

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