Updating an airline uniform is a massive undertaking, which is perhaps why it has been 16 years since the last SAS update. But with the right partner, the road to success is made much smoother.
“We ended our relationship with our previous provider about a year and a half ago,” says Christina Briheim, SAS Manager. “The timeframe to find a new provider was much shorter than normal, so we were very fortunate to find the perfect partner for this journey – designer and manufacturer Ted Bernhardtz.”
In the past, SAS has used big-name designers such as Dior and Carven for uniform updates, but Briheim says that using a “fancy” designer is not feasible in today’s market.
“To move into the future, we wanted to work in a new way: To find a basic collection we could build on and give it the unique SAS ‘stamp.’ Fashion label Ted Bernhardtz had the right base collection and was able to take our vision and apply it, making the update SAS unique.”
Linda Öh, Creative Director at Ted Bernhardtz and Project Manager for the SAS collection, says that because SAS is already such a strong brand it wasn’t necessary to find an outside designer.
“The key word for SAS is Scandinavian design, which we used as our starting point,” says Öh. “We thought about quality while keeping the fit and design simple, then added details to reflect the unique brand that is SAS, such as the buttons and the SAS colors – blue on blue with accents of red and sand.”
It was also important for the uniform update to complement the new SAS visual brand that has been recently developed.
“Anything that will touch the consumers’ eye is very important in order to keep coherency and maximize impact,” says SAS Brand Manager Pi Åhnberg.
“We’ve been working with logos, fonts, colors and materials and the ambition is to roll out the visual brand at all touchpoints. The uniform, which is so front and center for SAS travelers, is a huge touchpoint and a perfect reflection of the overall SAS update.”
The updated uniform doesn’t shout and it doesn’t need to. The design reflects the premium quality and clean lines of Scandinavian design – but if you look closely, there are some delightful details.
“We used things like Italian knit yarn, which is very high quality, and we brought in a young, up-and-coming designer to add a unique scarf in 100% silk,” says Öh.
That young, up-and-coming designer was Amandah Andersson, who had just the qualities SAS was looking for.
“SAS wanted a Scandinavian designer who had an aesthetic similar to Danish designer Henrik Vibskov,” says Andersson. “Vibskov is one of my big influences so it was a great fit for everyone.”
The objective was to design a scarf that not only fit the profile and branding of SAS, but also told a story.
“The most interesting thing when I’m flying is to look out the window of the plane and see the patterns formed by the landscape on the ground,” Andersson says. “So that’s where I found my inspiration.”
The scarf has a blue on blue base, and the graphic design in sand is Andersson’s interpretation of what Scandinavia looks like from up in the air. And if you’re lucky enough to get a closer look at the scarf, there is a hidden surprise – the word “SAS” hidden in the graphic design in two different places.
During the 18-month update process, Ted Bernhardtz had SAS staff conduct various tests such as “wear” tests in order to monitor the process step by step and ensure that the update was optimal and perfectly reflected the SAS brand. Linda Öh says that they have succeeded.
“We’ve worked with airlines a few times,” says Öh. “But to be honest, this process has been a dream come true for us. Who wouldn’t want to work with a brand as strong as SAS?”
The updated SAS uniform is due for launch in October, so be sure to look out for those hidden “SAS” graphics.
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