Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — Hardly one to preach uniformed behavior in his advertising, Kenneth Cole isn’t above a little conformity now and then — provided there’s a shot of irony.
He’s now suiting up staffers at W hotels in sleek, understated clothes, designed to make them indistinguishable from fashion-conscious guests. Known for its living-room lobbies and clubby bars, W’s design-oriented dens are already accented by insiders like nightclub czar Rande Gerber, celebrity chef Todd English and architect David Rockwell.
Cole’s uniforms are bowing at W’s new Chicago site and also will be worn by employees at the Times Square location once it opens on Dec. 27. The line will be rolled out at the company’s 15 other locations next year.
Also, the designer’s accessories will be sold at W’s boutiques in Chicago and Times Square.
With a base of charcoal pinstriped pants and leather blazers, women will wear a sleeveless matte jersey shirt, while men can opt for button-down shirts or black turtlenecks with silver-buckled black belts. Not exactly HoJo’s orange and turquoise numbers.
“The outfits we create will represent a dramatic departure from the stoic uniform that hotel employees have traditionally worn,” Cole said.
Cole teamed up with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, W’s owner, through his friend Barry Sternlicht, chairman and chief executive officer of Starwood. Surprisingly, the fashion-oriented chain never pursued any designers to outfit its 5,000 employees, said Guy Hensley, vice president of the W hotels.
“Our employees are very excited about this,” Hensley said. “Now, they don’t have to be ashamed to wear their uniforms outside the hotel. It’s not like they’ll have to run home to change to go out.”

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