Moda Operandi and Etihad Airways are collaborating on a high-profile event at the Louvre Abu Dhabi on April 24 in support of the industry’s growth in the region.
Etihad has teamed with Emirati label, A Friend of Mine, to create a custom loungewear collection, which will be revealed at a sleepwear-inspired soirée, “A Night at the Museum,” which acknowledges the brands’ joint ventures and continued support of Emirati fashion. The event will also coincide with the launch of Moda Operandi’s Ramadan collection.
The in-flight loungewear collection is designed for the airline’s first-class and Residence — a three-room suite on the plane — passengers on Etihad Airways.
At the event, the Residence Robes and about five to seven pieces of Moda Operandi fine jewelry will be on display. Select VIP guests will be styled in the loungewear. The loungewear is unisex and will not be visibly branded, only on interior tags and closures. Among the 300 to 500 guests expected at the event are Santo Domingo and IMG models Halima Aden, Eric Rutherford, Nick Bateman and Jessica Hart. The attire called for on the invitation is “sleepwear-inspired evening chic.”
Patrick Pierce, vice president of marketing partnerships at Etihad, explained why the airline is eager to be affiliated with the fashion industry, having forged a partnership with IMG Fashion two years ago.
“We recognize that one of the most well-traveled industries in the world is fashion, just by nature of the shows and the shoots and the retail environment. We have a lot of cargo clients within the fashion industry. The business potential was appealing. Above and beyond that, it’s a chance to align with a lifestyle interest that’s very important to some of our most important guests,” he said.
Etihad is an airline that serves more than 100 destinations, and fashion transcends borders, cultures and demographics. “We wanted to go very wide and very deep within the fashion industry,” he said. He also wants to integrate fashion fully into the guest experience and have a credible showcase in Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the Middle East region in general. “We have some really exciting, ambitious plans to serve a very loyal and knowledgeable fashion audience in Abu Dhabi with content, talent and designer collaborations they’re really yearning for,” he said.
Both Moda Operandi and Etihad Airways share a commitment to fashion’s expansion in the Middle East, evidenced by support of local designers. Moda Operandi is exploring e-commerce extensions with local designers, offering access to the global luxury retail platform.
Over the last two years, Etihad has made a major investment in the fashion industry globally. Among the activities have been collaborating with Oscar de la Renta at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia to Jimmy Choo’s 20th anniversary partnership at NYFW, Ellery’s 10-year retrospective at MBFWA to the Grid Girl collaboration with Prabal Gurung at Formula 1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi.
“We’ve done a lot already. What’s next is we want to support Emirati designers, and wanted to give them a platform to showcase their talent on a global scale,” Pearce said.
In February 2017, Etihad launched Runway to Runway, the first frequent flier program targeting the fashion industry, in partnership with Santo Domingo and Moda Operandi. The partners hosted an intimate dinner at New York Fashion Week for fashion tastemakers, revealing the program to new gold tier members. The program has more than 12,000 active members, produces multimillion flight revenue and is the airline’s most successful specialty frequent flier program.
Asked if the airline plans to renew its contract with IMG, Pierce said, “We are now entering our third year together. It’s far exceeded our expectations in many respects and we hope to continue. A key piece of this is we love what we’ve done in Milan, and London and New York and Sydney and Mumbai and as the national airline of the UAE and being the hometown carrier of Abu Dhabi, this will be really special to work with IMG Fashion, work with Moda Operandi and launch at the Louvre.”
Leslie Russo, senior vice president of fashion events at IMG Fashion, said, “Our real goal for IMG Fashion is to support the fashion industry. Etihad has really emerged as a true partner to the industry over the last few years. When you think about the industry and how well-traveled they are — whether it be a photo shoot, international fashion week events, designers that need to get their collections from one place to another — they really have emerged as a true partner other than putting their logo on something in supporting both the talent side of the business and the industry overall. Our talent and market has been largely supported by them.”