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End of an era: Air India flight attendants can now wear trousers

By Manu Balachandran

The trademark red and black saris worn by female flight attendants of India’s national carrier are now history. On April 14, Air India debuted new uniforms for its male and female cabin crew.

“Apart from the sari—which is commonly used—we have now decided to allow western formals for women and contemporary designs for men,” Shobha Nimbalkar, a spokesperson for Air India, told Quartz.

The new uniforms have been designed by the National Institute of Fashion Technology, one of the best design colleges in the country.

The female flight attendants will now have three different uniforms to choose from: Traditional bright yellow sari with a red border, a long black jacket with trousers, and a yellow kurta with black trousers. Male attendants will now wear black trousers, blue pinstripe shirt, red tie and black jacket.

“The use of a particular uniform will be based on destinations of travel,” said Nimbalkar.

Air India’s decision to redesign uniforms comes at a time when the airline is trying to ward off competition from other domestic and international airlines in the Indian market.

Last year, Vistara—an airline owned by Tata group and Singapore Airlines—roped in designers David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore to create outfits for its staff. Vistara’s cabin crew wears kurtis along with trousers.

Earlier this year, Air India gave its 68-year-old mascot—a moustached and potbellied Maharaja—an extreme makeover.

Immediately after coming to power in 2014, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi had asked the airline to revamp its mascot. In his modern avatar, the Maharaja has not only shed several kilograms, but also the traditional turban and sherwani, trading it for blue jeans and trainers.