Virgin Atlantic launches new gender neutral Vivienne Westwood uniforms

Virgin Atlantic is to allow its flight crew to decide whether to wear its famous red uniforms or ditch them for gender-neutral trouser suits.

The airline on Wednesday updated its “gender identity” policy to remove the requirement for women to wear skirts and men to wear trousers.

It means that male staff can choose to wear a skirt rather than trousers.

The new uniform policy ispart of Virgin’s “Be Yourself” agenda, backed by TV star and LGBTQ+ campaigner Michelle Visage. The uniforms, designed by Vivienne Westwood, were already available - with staff now free to choose which one to wear.

Michelle Visage models the new uniform (Virgin Atlantic)
Michelle Visage models the new uniform (Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin, which has previously removed the ban on tattoos and makes the wearing of make-up optional, said it wanted staff to “wear the clothing that expresses how they identify or present themselves”.

It is also introducing optional pronoun badges, a ticketing system that allows passengers to use gender neutral pronouns and is making inclusivity training mandatory for staff.

Visage, a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race and a former Strictly Come Dancing contestant, said: “As the mother of a non-binary child, and as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, these efforts by Virgin Atlantic to further inclusivity for its people are extremely important and personal to me.

“People feel empowered when they are wearing what best represents them, and this gender identity policy allows people to embrace who they are and bring their full selves to work.”

Virgin has about 650 pilots and 3,000 cabin crew. Jaime Forsstroem, a cabin crew member, said: “The updated gender identity policy is so important to me. As a non-binary person, it allows me to be myself at work and have the choice in what uniform I wear.”

Virgin, which describes itself as the “most inclusive airline in the skies”, said survey results showed that allowing staff to embrace their individuality at work increased mental wellbeing and feelings of happiness.

The red trouser suits had previously been available only on request but are “now part of the uniform and can be issued as standard”. A burgundy uniform is also available.

Customers can obtain a pronoun badge at the airport check in desk or in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, which is open to premium ticket holders.

Passengers who hold passports with gender neutral gender markerswill be able to select “U” or “X” gender codes on their booking as well as the gender-neutral title, “Mx”.

The inclusivity training will include Virgin Atlantic Holidays and hotels in the Caribbean, where gay sex is criminalised in 11 states including Antigua, Barbados, Grenada and Jamaica.

Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer, said: “We believe that everyone can take on the world, no matter who they are. That’s why it’s so important that we enable our people to embrace their individuality and be their true selves at work.

“It is for that reason that we want to allow our people to wear the uniform that best suits them and how they identify and ensure our customers are addressed by their preferred pronouns.”