Imagine this scenario: you're in town for a business trip, only to have an unexpected – and ultra-important – cocktail reception added to the itinerary. You need to make a sterling impression and yet your bag contains only perfunctory officewear, exercise clothes and pyjamas. Worse still, there's no time to hit the shops. What to do?
For anyone staying in suites at London's Hotel Cafe Royal, the answer's easy: you pick up the phone. Since September, the luxury residence has been offering "Fashion Now", a rescue service in which residents can speak to a guru from matchesfashion.com, following which a curated wardrobe will be delivered – along with an expert stylist to run through the pieces. The service also includes a private-shopping experience at Matches' flagship Marylebone store.
While fashion/hotel crossovers are nothing new, the trend is becoming more exciting, and more guest-accessible. Fashion brands and designers have long been associated with hospitality, after all: when Tommy Hilfiger opens its first luxury hotel in Miami's South Beach later this year, it will only be following in the chic footsteps of Versace, Armani, Bulgari et al.
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What's more unusual are these exclusive, customer-focused initiatives like the team-up between Hotel Cafe Royal and Matches. Recent months have also seen House of Holland perform a month-long residency with Habitat at the Hoxton Holborn, and the debut of "ASOS x Hotel Indigo Edits".
This partnership has seen seven unique outfits be designed by seven social-media tastemakers at seven different Hotel Indigo destinations across the USA – from Downtown LA to New York City's Lower East Side. Intended to match the ethos of its Hotel Indigo and surrounding city, each 'edit' (or mini-catalogue) can now be purchased by customers on ASOS.
Another NYC hotel on top of its fashion game is Soho's 11 Howard. Ever since opening last year, the boutique hotel has consistently hosted trunk shows and pop-up shops from the likes of Maiyet, Deveaux and Ted Baker; at all times, customers can enjoy exclusive discounts in an array of local clothes stores, from denim specialist 3x1 to agnes b.
Developments like that, along with the trend for brands as diverse as Muji (just opened in China) and Shinola (due in Detroit later this year) to diversify into accommodation, has led to suggestions that hotels are the future of "experiential retail". And it makes sense: many hospitality and consumer brands now want to provide a more rounded, "lifestyle" offering, and hotel lobbies represent an ideal, meet-in-the-middle space in which to accomplish this.
A final representation of the crossover's progression comes in the way that even hotel staff's outfits are becoming not only hipper, but also more personalised. At the Naumi Auckland Airport, which instantly became the world's sharpest airport hotel when opening this February, team members have been styled by designers from Topshop and Zara, according to their individual look and taste.
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