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 story first appeared in the September 3, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
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.”