Virgin ‘See-Through’ Uniforms Not A Big Hit With Workers

virginVirgin Trains, the UK rail arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group promotes what they do as a faster, more comfortable and greener way to travel. Virgin believes that rail has a clear role to play in sustainable transport and they want to lead the charge. Choosing to minimize the negative and accentuate the positive, Virgin Trains takes social responsibility seriously. Uniforms on their employees? Not so much, unless prompted to do so.

The new uniforms, designed by Vivienne Westwood, are currently on hold because they expose the underwear of female staff members. The Telegraph reports the uniforms are described as “flimsy” and “see-through” via complaints to Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association trade union. But Virgin has an answer.

Applying a similar strategy where they “want to challenge assumptions, solve problems and deliver innovative solutions,” as Virgin Trains says on their website, the company gave each staff member a £20 voucher to buy suitable undergarments.Already investing £500,000 in the new uniform program, Andy Cross, Virgin’s business support director, said, “It’s important that our people feel comfortable and so we will be issuing vouchers in the next few days for ladies to buy tops to wear under their blouses.”

Still, union members are not happy about the new uniforms and believe the move to them comes directly from Branson himself.

“Our female members are upset because they feel Sir Richard is cutting corners by asking them to wear flimsy blouses, which are skimpy and they feel too revealing,” said Cortes.

For more on Virgin’s plans to roll out new designer uniforms, like these for Virgin Atlantic Airlines, watch the video below:


[Photo credit - Flickr user D@LY3D]

Virgin Atlantic Crew Gets A Fashion Makeover

Virgin Atlantic’s flight attendents and staff are set to step out in snazzy new garb thanks to the help of British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. The airline known for it’s cheeky attitude and sassy flight crew announced they would be overhauling the uniforms for cabin crew and ground staff across the globe.

The carrier’s president, Richard Branson, said he wanted to give his staff a look that would go against the grain and stick in people’s minds. “Virgin Atlantic has a distinct spirit and from a
design perspective we continually try to challenge the norm and stand out from the crowd,” he said. “Our current uniform has been around for more than 10 years and we have seen other airlines start to copy it.”Westwood said she wanted to make use of traditional tailoring methods but blend those with cutting-edge design to give the uniforms a futuristic look. Of course, at the top of the list was ensuring the uniforms would retain the airline’s trademark glamorous style.

Virgin Atlantic’s female cabin crew will be decked out in a suit in the airline’s iconic red color, while male flight staff will don a a three-piece burgundy suit inspired by Britain’s famous Savile Row tailoring. Fabric for the uniforms is made from a variety of eco-friendly textiles, including a recycled polyster yarn made out of used plastic bottles.

The airline will start phasing in the new-look uniforms from July this year, with a full rollout expected in 2014.

[Photo credit: Virgin Atlantic]

A Q&A With Plastiki Adventurer David de Rothschild On The WHOLE WORLD Water Campaign

Three years ago, adventurer, entrepreneur and activist David de Rothschild sailed from San Francisco to Sydney on a catamaran made of 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles.

His goal with the Plastiki project was to bring awareness to environmental issues like global warming and plastic pollution, and he has continued to stay active in the environmental movement. Most recently, de Rothschild signed on as an advisor to WHOLE WORLD Water, a three-year campaign that aims to unite the hospitality and tourism industry to combat global clean water issues.

Launched on March 22 to coincide with World Water Day, WHOLE WORLD Water uses a social enterprise model to generate funds for the clean water movement. The process of signing on is relatively simple. First, hotels and restaurants sign on to the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign for a nominal per-property fee. Then, they use the suggested Vivreau water filtration system to filter, bottle and sell their own water to guests. Finally, they donate 10 percent of the proceeds to the WHOLE WORLD Water fund, which benefits safe, sustainable clean water projects in the places that need it most.

Founders Karena Albers and Jenifer Willig estimate that if the world’s three largest hotel groups joined the campaign and sold just one bottle of water per day, the campaign could raise up to $1 billion for its mission, while contributing up to 25 percent toward the company’s bottom line. The campaign has already signed on a number of well-known hotel groups, including Virgin, Dusit and Banyan Tree, along with a number of restaurants, nightclubs and Ritz Carlton properties. Advisors include high-profile names like Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson, designer Yves Behar, actor and filmmaker Edward Norton and de Rothschild.

In an email exchange, de Rothschild shared with Gadling what sailing the Plastiki taught him about the world’s water supply, why he decided to sign onto the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign and what travelers can do to get on board.

What did sailing the Plastiki teach you about the world’s water supply?

What the Plastiki taught me is sometimes it’s just as important to unlearn as it is to learn. We had to unlearn that it wasn’t all plastic that was the issue, but rather dumb uses of the material. And more importantly it was about redefining the story we tell ourselves about the value of the material – moving it away from valueless to valuable. That in turn will then have an influence over how we use and reuse. I believe the same applies to water issues; we all have to start to leave behind the concept that we have an endless supply of water, if we are to have any chance of creating a future.

Why did you decide to sign on to the WHOLE WORLD Water Campaign?

I can’t see any reason not to! I have been working for a while now to ban plastic straws across the world of hospitality so this seems like an easy and logical extension.

Why tackle hospitality of all industries?

Has to be a whole system approach to have an impact!

What will the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign achieve that other water campaigns haven’t?

That’s yet to be seen, but I have no doubt with such a great team behind the campaign it will produce something positive!

What can travelers do to support the efforts of the WHOLE WORLD Water Campaign?

Just say no to plastic water bottles! And encourage establishments that you come into contact with who haven’t engaged to sign up!

[Photo Credit: WHOLE WORLD Water]

Virgin America And Singapore Airlines Launch Mileage Partnership – Star Alliance Next?

Passengers on the scrappy airline startup Virgin America were introduced to a new benefit last week: an expanded partnership with Singapore Airlines. Now, in addition to the assorted codeshare agreements currently in place, fliers on each airline can accrue miles from the partner carrier. So the 2000 Elevate points earned on Virgin America from Chicago to Los Angeles can now turn into 11,000 miles earned from Chicago to Los Angeles to Singapore. Conversely, passengers in Singapore’s KrisFlyer program can also earn miles on Virgin America’s domestic routes.

Shared mileage accrual also means that passengers in each frequent flier program will be able to redeem miles on partner carriers, so all of those domestic trips on Virgin America can now translate to international trips on Singapore.

Virgin America’s partnership with Singapore is a great step towards bringing in business from partner carriers, and one wonders whether this is the first step towards working larger networks. One of the biggest detractors to flying on the carrier has always been the lack of mileage partners in the United States, and if the airline were part of the Star, Oneworld or even Skyteam network, a huge market of business travelers would shift their business over. Since Singapore is part of the Star Alliance network, it may be a natural next step for Virgin America to partner with United Airlines, the biggest domestic Star carrier.

Were that the case, however, it might make sense for all of the Virgin carriers (i.e., Virgin Atlantic, V Australia, etc.) to join a global network, and since Virgin Atlantic just partnered up with Delta Air Lines (Skyteam), it seems that the brands are in conflict. Perhaps the cost of joining an alliance is just too high.

[Photo Credit: Virgin America]

Inside Virgin Galactic’s Gateway to Space (VIDEO)

Yesterday morning, Governor of New Mexico Susana Martinez, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides, and Richard Branson welcomed guests inside Spaceport America to commemorate and christen the spaceport’s main terminal hangar facility as the ‘Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space’.

Our team on the ground was on hand to capture the festivities, from the opening press conference to the Champagne toast to a spaceport tour. Check out our exclusive video for the details.