Generations past may have settled for a postcard or shell as a memento from their annual summer holidays, but these days vacationers are opting for something altogether more wearable as souvenirs. Following the trend for fashion brands – Giorgio Armani, Ferragamo, Bulgari, Missoni, Alberta Ferretti – to lend their names and aesthetics to hotels, hotels are now lending their names and associations to fashion.
“This move joins experts in service, style, and luxury with experts in design and fashion,” says Liz Hall, head of hospitality and leisure research at consultancy PwC. “Limited edition purchases are about exclusivity and aspiration.”
Case in point: the Beverly Hills Hotel, which has expanded its offering to include banana-leaf print wedges designed by Charlotte Olympia ($695), as well as a banana-leaf tote ($685), both inspired by the hotel’s signature Martinique banana-leaf wallpaper.
Fellow California hotels Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica and the Hotel Bel-Air now offer, respectively, a tote bag ($220) designed by accessories name Clare Vivier, and limited edition swimming trunks by LA’s Solid & Striped. The Ritz-Carlton has a towel ($75) created by swim brand Onia, which features a Ritz-Carlton lion’s head, and the St Regis chain has collaborated with jewellery designer Alexis Bittar to create The St Regis Collection by Alexis Bittar, which includes bespoke earrings, a necklace and brooch, as well as the Grand Tourista Bag ($1,995), designed by Jason Wu.
“The luxury goods business is looking more and more to hospitality brands for expertise in delivering consistent, bespoke service to their customers,” says Paul James, global brand leader for St Regis, Luxury Collection and W Hotels worldwide. “Partnering with designers like Jason Wu and Alexis Bittar began largely from a conversation about how a new generation of luxury travellers has emerged, defined more by their mindset than their demographic.”
Indeed, the trend in hotel fashion is global: in Asia, the Mandarin Oriental sells silk robes in its Bangkok location, and Japanese-style pyjamas (Y10,000) in Tokyo. The luxury Japanese hotel group Hoshinoya offers guests its samue wear, based on clothing for Zen Buddhist monks. And in Europe, the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d’Antibes has introduced a limited edition unisex watch by Ice-Watch (€150), while the Dorchester in London offers a blue or pink baby gift set (£46.50), and has worked with British designer Teatum Jones to create “The Dorchester” printed silk scarf (£245).
But perhaps the most in-depth retail approach comes courtesy of the Orient-Express Travel Group, which offers clothing collections reflecting the designs, character or location of four of its Italian hotels: the Caruso in Ravello, the Splendido in Portofino, the Cipriani in Venice, and the Grand Hotel Timeo in Sicily. Each collection is made up of around 20 pieces, and sold in the hotels’ boutiques. with the average cost per piece around €250. The idea came from Claudia Santaloja, the retail and boutique adviser for Orient-Express, and Italian designer Patrizia Fusi.
“The collections are a different souvenir, which combine memories and experiences of the hotel in a glamour key,” says Santaloja.
In Portofino, the Splendido Collection includes a silk crêpe shirt printed with images of the wisteria that decorates the hotel (€315). Santaloja estimates that each hotel sells about 130 pieces during each six-month season.
“The hotel environment is a hotspot for this new breed of shopping,” says Jane Monnington Boddy, director of women’s trend forecasting at Stylesight. “This is just the beginning.”
Fashion on the move: Calcutta’s hidden gem
It’s not easy to find the Indian fashion designer Anamika Khanna’s atelier in Calcutta, writes Allegra Donn. We’ve been circling the chaotic streets of West Bengal’s sprawling capital to no avail, but persevere because Khanna comes highly recommended by Indian friends as the country’s number one designer. In fact, in 2007 she became the only Indian designer aside from Manish Arora to have shown at Paris Fashion Week. But just as we’re about to give up the search and head for the Victoria Memorial we miraculously find ourselves right opposite her elegant, minimalist store.
“The amount of heritage we have in India is our identity – we must not lose it,” says Khanna, a self-taught 35-year-old designer who has been in the industry for more than 13 years. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t cross borders and make it contemporary.”
Prices for Khanna’s clothes range from £150 to £1,200, depending on whether it is bespoke. She has a ready-to-wear range and a couture range, which she will be showing in Delhi on August 1.
When we meet Khanna is wearing jeans and a three-quarter-length flowing white silk shirt-cape with a blue tie-dye motif, shorter at the front, that she refers to as “a dress”. It covers most of her body, yet is sheer and, when she moves, slips off one shoulder. Her atelier displays a tailored red coat dress, its black cuffs which reach the elbow clearly inspired by the uniforms of British army officers, a long flowing skirt combined with a tapered silk sleeveless top with high collar, and a black tailored Nehru jacket with diamond-shaped cut-outs at the elbow and around the waist. As for her signature sari, Khanna has updated the traditional dress so that it becomes a modern evening gown that can be worn comfortably in the east or west. More tapered than a classic sari, it falls over the female form to the ground or just above the ankle.
Most of Khanna’s fabrics are created from scratch, hand-embroidered by one of the 700 expert “hands” spread out around Calcutta. “We started creating our own fabrics with thread,” she explains.
“Embroidery is a universal language and Indian artisans have the expertise to take on giant projects head-on,” French embroiderer Jean-François Lesage recently told The Telegraph in Calcutta. “In France, nobody can embroider for palaces any more.” Luckily for them, Khanna exists. Now they just have to find her.