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Soon shoppers will be able to order a Blee Inara charm bracelet with their Mediterranean branzino at W Hotels.
The hospitality chain on Sept. 10 will introduce an extensive collection of apparel and accessories designed by 34 new and better-known talents such as Alex and Ani, Armand Diradourian, David Aubrey, Foley + Corina, Lauren Merkin, Sibilia, VIX and Wink. That evening, which is Fashion’s Night Out, designers Rachel Leigh, Sandy Hyun, and Amy Vennema of A.V. Max will visit W Hotels the Store locations in Times Square and 541 Lexington Avenue.
This isn’t W’s first brush with fashion. To underscore its synergies with style, W has sponsored the Backstage VIP lounge at New York Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week for several years. “W is a design-led brand, therefore fashion is a tool to engage our guests in design,” said Eva Ziegler, global brand leader of W. “The people we’re after are trendsetters and fashion-forward. We have a passion for fashion.”
Expectations for the collection go beyond sales. While Ziegler declined to divulge estimates, she said, “It should definitely break even. It’s not a major profit generator. We have developed the collection to be seen in a broader sense. It’s not just that W has started to develop fashion. W is going through a transformation from a U.S. phenomenon to a global powerhouse.”
W, which operates about 30 hotels worldwide, plans to have 60 properties in operation by 2012. “We wanted fashion to be a tool to communicate W’s global expansion,” Ziegler said. “Every hotel we’re opening has a distinctive look, feel and design narrative. The idea was to create items inspired by five new W properties in downtown Manhattan; South Beach in Miami; Santiago, Chile; Hong Kong, and Istanbul.
The collection’s name, Global Glam, is apt. Items, priced from $50 to $500, include a caftan by Deepa Gurnani shot with glittery silver thread, a long green dress with black embroidery by Prairie New York, Lisa Curran’s white one-shoulder malliot and Love Shop’s sparkly silver and black plaid miniskirt.
W Hotels will produce two collections each year based on new properties slated for Hollywood, Washington, London, Paris, Barcelona and Thailand.
W Hotels’ fashion fascination will extend to its windows. Simon Doonan, Barneys New York’s creative director, developed type-heavy windows for the W in Union Square that offer tips for surviving fashion week, such as, “Wearing insane makeup, gazy garish accessories and demented outfits to fashion week is a bad idea…unless you want to get your picture taken continuously and have a wild and fabulous time.” Doonan’s “tongue in cheek, playful approach in a very stylish manner” suits W’s sensibility, Ziegler said. W Hotel guests will receive a Barneys New York gift card worth $50 for every $250 spent and a free Bellini at Fred’s at the Madison Avenue flagship.
Lest anyone think W is not serious about fashion, Ziegler said the company plans to hire a fashion director for the W brand in the near future. “We’ve started looking in retail and editorial circles.”