Southwest Freight Agent Kate Callen relies on a variety of skills to help keep Cargo operations in Denver running smoothly. She assists Cargo Customers during the drop-off and pick-up process, reviews accepted cargo for compliance with regulatory standards, and researches information on routed shipments as necessary. And after the launch of our new uniforms in 2017, she can claim another (although slightly more unexpected) talent that came in handy in her work at Southwest—fashion design.
Time for a Makeover
Kate was a part of the team of 43 Employees from across our Company who helped design the uniforms worn by more than 42,000 of her Cohearts. Our uniforms had not been completely redesigned since 1996—nearly two decades before our bold new Heart brand was unveiled in 2014—so they were ready for an update.
“I loved being on the Design Team!” says Kate. “It definitely had its challenges, but meeting People from all around the system and working on a project like this was really rewarding. It was fun collaborating with different Stations and making sure we met everyone’s needs.”
In the Hands of our Employees
Since uniforms most directly affect those who wear them, we turned to our Employees for help. “Our energetic Employees are the Heart of our airline, and they were the perfect choice to design and develop our new look,” says Sonya Lacore, Southwest’s Vice President of Inflight Operations and head of the Design Team. “The amount of Employee involvement in the design process was important to Southwest—and it shows our commitment to our Employees as the Heart of our airline and our brand.”
Whether working behind the scenes or serving Customers face-to-face, our Employees expect uniforms to be functional, comfortable, and reflect their Servant’s Hearts, Warrior Spirits, and Fun-LUVing Attitudes. That might mean extra pockets for Ramp Agents’ tools or a cleverly-placed pop of bright color along the seam of a Flight Attendant’s uniform.
The Design Process
The uniform design process took more than two and a half years of work—gathering feedback, selecting Employees for the Design Team, searching for design inspiration in downtown Chicago, collaborating with our design and manufacturing partner Cintas, wear testing, refining, and getting final approvals. Along the way, our Design Team was able to incorporate planet-friendly materials into the design and visit garment manufacturing sites to monitor for safe working conditions. New designs were rolled out between February and June of 2017, and a number of Employees had fun strutting their stuff at Southwest-style fashion shows.
“The great thing about these uniforms is Employees can mix it up, and there’s something for everyone,” says Steve Murtoff, Southwest’s Senior Director Onboard Experience & Policy and Uniform Core Team Chairman. “Employees asked for options, so choices include pants, shirts, polos, shorts, skirts, and dresses. We didn’t just include our Employees in the design process—we made them central to it. Because when Employees look and feel their best, they are best equipped to serve our Customers well.
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