The new airline uniform fit for Princess Kate

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“The recent announcement of a new designer for Air New Zealand uniforms appears to be a missed opportunity for a more collaborative approach to working with Maori designers,” says designer and academic Dr Bobby Campbell Luke, who runs the Campbell Luke label has founded.

“This could have been an opportunity to engage with our cultural heritage and develop its branding based on its cultural richness,” says Luke, who is a fan of Wickstead’s work. “This missed opportunity becomes even more striking against the backdrop of the current climate in the New Zealand fashion industry, where there is a growing emphasis on cultural awareness and inclusivity.”

“It is clear that we have not yet fully realized the potential of those already contributing to the New Zealand fashion industry, especially the collective voices of Maori designers.”

Bobby Campbell Luke and Dominic Blake tie their bows on the catwalk during the Campbell Luke show during New Zealand Fashion Week.Credit: Getty

Part of the selection process included a demonstration of The Māori worldthe respect and recognition of Maori customs and protocols.

“My criticism of this process focuses on how to really understand it The Māori world even though they are not Maori themselves,” says Luke.

Wickstead says Maori people will be recognized in her design.

“Without saying too much, it will be a great tribute to Maori culture,” says Wickstead. “There will be a lot of meaning behind small details.”

“Integrating Maori culture is one of the biggest priorities. I can’t tell you too much. There is a big story element to the uniforms. Anyone who wears the uniform will feel immensely proud. They will play a major role in paying tribute to Maori culture.”


“It’s almost like you wear your heart on your sleeve. There’s a real authenticity to it. For me, storytelling is the core of this passion project.”

Were Maori leaders involved in that story?

“We will reveal that soon,” says Wickstead. “I wish I could say more.”

In addition to recognizing New Zealand culture, Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty says safety and comfort were important considerations in the selection process.

“In the end, Emilia emerged as the perfect partner. Her ability to create modern yet timeless pieces fits perfectly with what we were looking for in a design partner – someone who could create a uniform that our people can wear with pride now and into the future.”

“The uniform is our second most recognizable asset, after the koru on our plane. It’s incredibly important. It is the first visual representation for visitors coming to New Zealand.”

Damien Woolnough traveled to Auckland as a guest of Air New Zealand.

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