Virgin Trains Uniform

Airlines always gain attention and acclaim for their practical yet stylish staff uniforms - who says train stewards can't have the same?
Virgin Trains
Type: Uniform Design
Date: 2017-2018

In 2015, we started work with Virgin Trains to create a new uniform for their staff. Their teams reported feeling like the ‘unloved siblings’ to Virgin Atlantic; airline stewards have always had a glamour to their look and garner respect within the travel industry for an aspirational job and lifestyle. Well, we couldn’t have the Virgin Trains staff feeling left out, so we set about to address the situation.

We carried out a survey and spoke to as many employees as we could, ultimately engaging with thousands of staff. The existing uniforms had very limited choice and were unisex, so they didn’t properly serve the needs or desires of a huge amount of the staff. We knew we needed to create something that was practical for staff spending long days on moving trains but also allowed people to express their personality and feel comfortable in themselves.

The resulting uniform was a capsule collection with up to ten combinations for staff to choose from. We moved away from the previous unisex system to create garments properly sized and tailored; using expertise from our fashion days that those who wished to could wear fitted shirts, trousers and skirts.

As well as designing the new uniforms, we wanted to make sure the old ones weren’t wasted. We worked with Virgin Trains and HMP Northumberland to create a recycling scheme. The old uniforms were upcycled by prisoners at their onsite textile factory – enabling people to upskill whilst minimising waste sent to landfill.

The new uniform was rolled out in autumn 2017 and was very well received. It’s now been retained by LNER and its popularity with the West Coast team has ensured its been kept – in new colours – for the Avanti franchise. We believe that part of the longevity of the uniform is due to the fact that we fully engaged – in fact co-designed – the uniform with the staff themselves.