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Zac Posen's new Delta uniforms are athleisure in the sky

Uniforms will debut May 29

(CNN) - If you're due for a Delta flight sometime soon, you might notice something new.

Fashion designer and "Project Runway" judge Zac Posen has designed new uniforms for Delta employees, which will debut on the ground and in the air on May 29, 2018.

From fashion runway to airport runway

It has been over a decade since the uniforms for Delta Air Lines employees were revamped, but the three-year redesign process is finally over. Posen not only brought his design aesthetic and creativity to the new uniforms, he literally put himself in the shoes of the 60,000 Delta employees across various roles such as flight attendant, Sky club concierge and gate agent.

Ekrem Dimbiloglu, director of Delta's uniform program, tells CNN Travel that "[the employees] are the people that make Delta better. You fly Delta because of the employees; so we wanted to make sure [they] look and feel great."

There was no doubt that Posen, whose gowns have been worn by stars such as Natalie Portman and Jessica Chastain, would be able to design beautiful uniforms. However, in order to make sure his designs would be functional and comfortable for all Delta employees, the designer had to do some first-hand research.

"It was really important to him and to us to say, 'hey, look, you [can] design really beautiful garments but you need to actually understand what these employees do," Dimbiloglu adds. Posen was game. "He actually flew routes, served peanuts, coffee, and food, worked in our small galleys, and even worked as a gate agent and scanned people in at JFK."

The long hours and unpredictable weather and schedules that Delta employees often endure meant that Posen had his work cut out for him, but these redesigned uniforms are some of the most beautiful and functional in the game.

While some iconic pieces such as Delta's red coats (which have been around since the 1960s) remain, a new color was added to the collection: Pilot Plum.

This deep purple was created by mixing together Delta's statement red and blue. The new plum color is seen on the both the men's and women's uniforms and even many of the accessories, such as the genuine-leather flight attendant purses, belts and men's pocket squares.

A uniform for everybody in the sky

Fittings for these new uniforms have commenced in 14 cities across the United States.

Delta's uniform team has taken these fittings to the next level by hiring local fitters with either fashion or design background, training them on how the uniforms should look on employees; and offering all Delta employees a personalized fitting before ordering their new uniforms. Each location can see more than 100 employees per day and has each piece in every size.

"Zac's biggest thing was you can make a beautiful dress but it's not just about making a beautiful dress, it needs to be beautiful on everybody; and to do that you need to have it cut to that person's body, " Dimbiloglu explains. The new uniforms come in over 30 different sizes as well as regular, petite, curvy, long and short cuts.

To make the trying-on experience more fun, the center of each fitting room also features a Delta-themed runway in case employees want to take a walk in his or her new outfit.

Additionally, there is a step and repeat wall (just like at a movie premiere) for employees to have their photo taken once they have found their proper sizes and styles.

A CNN staffer takes a flying leap

This month, CNN Travel spent a morning at the fitting site just outside of LaGuardia Airport in New York -- and tried on the new flight attendant dress and suit. The dress is super-classy: a flight attendant could honestly go straight from the airport to a cocktail party. The suit looks slightly more corporate but truly feels like you're wearing athletic clothing.

All of the garments are lined with spandex for extra stretch and comfort, making the uniforms extremely comfortable without compromising the desired polished look. And even the smallest details are thoughtful, like a Delta logo on the lining of the coats.

Many of the changes made to these uniforms were suggested by the employees themselves, like an interior blazer pocket constructed exactly for passport width.


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