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High fashion: an exploration of texts surrounding a change in flight attendant uniform within the context of a heritage brand
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 21:29 authored by Amanda Roberts
Flight attendant uniforms perform a number of practical and symbolic functions. They frequently play a pivotal role in airline advertising, yet the interpretation(s) of a uniform may not be universally conceded. This study aims to make a methodological contribution to the nascent literature on heritage branding through the application of social semiotics to a thematic content analysis of online corporate, media, and consumer texts surrounding the debut of the latest Qantas flight attendant uniform. Analysis suggests that Qantas operates on a cultural as well as corporate heritage level; that references to glamour and fashion distance the uniform from its meaning and function as professional dress, particularly when glamour is combined with a sense of nostalgia; and that the interplay between the brand and other meaning-making systems such as popular culture is an inevitable but problematic result of Qantas operating on multiple social levels, not just at the level of the corporate brand. Texts authored by media and individuals external to the organisation are found to interpret the newuniform differently to the Qantas management interpretation on a number of points. It is proposed that the concept of provenance, as it is applied in an art-historical context, is a useful adjunct with which to approach the reactions to a single, specific event in corporate history within the context of the omni-temporal sweep expected of the healthy heritage brand.