This week, a look at how fashion brands are leaning into the travel boom. Scroll down to use Glossy+ Comments, giving the Glossy+ community the opportunity to join discussions around industry topics.
As the world has opened up with the easing of the pandemic, people have enthusiastically embraced the renewed opportunity to travel. In turn, fashion companies have turned their attention to the pastime, carving out related revenue opportunities befitting their brand and satisfying an unmet travel need.
Despite current economic instability, travel is decidedly back. According to December 2022 data from the U.S. Travel Association, travel spending surpassed pre-pandemic levels by 3% in October. Plus, according to the report, more than half of U.S. travelers planned to make leisure travel a priority from November through January.
Plenty of fashion brands are prepared to dress this group, regardless of the planned route, travel style or destination.
Amid the return to skiwear resorts, multiple fashion brands have launched skiwear — effectively carving out an accessible price tier in the booming category at the same time. And with travelers flocking to beaches, brands including Todd Snyder and Dôen launched swimwear in 2022.
Swimwear sales this year are expected to reach $22 billion, surpassing pre-pandemic levels, according to Euromonitor.
Meanwhile, other companies have thought outside the box, aiming to fill white space around the intersection of fashion and travel.
Early this month, styling service and retailer Stitch Fix temporarily launched Travel Style Insurance, intended to offer “styling support and stress relief” to travelers, according to the company. It based demand on U.S. Department of Transportation data showing that instances of mishandled luggage are way up — by 380% in September, compared to September 2019, pre-pandemic. What’s more, social media mentions of #lostluggage or #lostsuitcase have increased by 176%. Any traveler contacting Stitch Fix at a dedicated email and providing proof of lost luggage can receive five complimentary items, valued at up to $500, based on their needs and chosen by a Stitch Fix stylist.
Of course, the new Stitch Fix service is just a holiday promotion, only running from December 5 to January 5. What’s more, the offer only stands for the first 50 people taking advantage of it. Still, it serves travelers in a novel way and offers inspiration for brands feeling out potential paths to revenue opportunities around travel.
For its part, Rent the Runway has capitalized on travelers’ common desire to pack lighter, launching “Closet Concierge” with W Hotels in 2019. The ongoing service allows hotel guests to choose four RTR items for $69, with their delivery and return managed by the hotel. In 2021, Rent the Runway secured another Closet Concierge partner, Tripadvisor Plus. And there are lesser-known rental companies that exclusively cater to travelers.
Meanwhile, Italian luxury menswear company Zegna has leaned into people’s growing interest in both travel and athletes’ style, becoming the official travel wear partner of Spanish soccer team Real Madrid for the 2022-2023 season. While on the road, the players will exclusively wear custom, Zegna-designed leisurewear, including joggers, crew-neck knitwear and sneakers featuring both companies’ logos.
On that note, in October, legendary quarterback Tom Brady released “packable” outerwear under his Brady apparel label that launched in January. Other fashion brands leveraging the packable-style trend in recent months include Cynthia Rowley and Canada-based Frank & Oak.
But many brands’ current travel focus is in keeping with their roots.
For example, the founders of L.A.-based brand Rhode sought to “celebrate exploration” with their new resort 2023 collection, dubbed “A Suitcase Full of Rhode.” And Rhode’s been a “getaway-inspired brand” since its launch in 2014, according to co-founder Phoebe Vickers.
As such, the brand’s pieces often feature prints developed in Bombay, co-founder Purna Khatau’s hometown. Over the years, it’s expanded its product categories beyond travel wear to include outerwear and knitwear, among others.
Likewise, Kansas City-based gifting brand Mersea, which sells in 1,400 U.S. stores including Anthropologie locations, has earned a reputation as a travel-focused brand. That’s thanks to its bath products’ tropical scents, for example, and its popular baskets produced in Morocco. Its tagline is “Crafted for the journey.”
Based on demand, from both its direct customers and its retail partners, Mersea will launch travel wear this spring. The 75-piece collection will mark the company’s official entry into the apparel category, after focusing for the last 10 years on hard products including candles. Embroidered separates and pin-tucked shirting will be among included styles.
Mersea saw a sales spike in 2021, which founders Melanie Bolin and Lina Dickinson owed to homebound consumers embracing “mental travel.” It’s set to do $16 million in sales this year and has been profitable from day one.
Bolin and Dickinson first saw the potential for Mersea-branded apparel early this year. To answer customer requests for clothes while continuing to leverage their retail network — largely made up of gift stores without a fitting room — they expanded Mersea’s offerings to include one-size-fits-all apparel. That included a travel wrap — which took off, thanks in part to its Google searchability — and a single dress. Since, they’ve been hitting trade shows including Coterie to secure new, apparel-focused retail partners.
“There are travel companies that are focused on ‘technical travel.’ They’ll sell the right Dopp kit and the moisture-wicking and cooling [styles]. But we’re more on the more tactile side,” said Bolin. “Our [travel wear] is made to make you feel like you’re at home when you’re traveling. It’s what people are looking for.”
To that, Dickinson joked, “If our retailers asked us to make a car, we’d figure it out.”
With more fashion brands canoodling with travel, it’s fitting that travel companies are increasingly crossing over to fashion: In October, Delta Airlines teamed with six emerging designers to release a travel-ready “Runway Runway” collection that debuted at L.A. Fashion Week. And this month, Alaska Airlines launched a holiday sweater that was promoted by Tan France.
4 fashion leaders on their go-to travel style
“I very much channel an athleisure vibe when I’m traveling. My go-to [look] is a heather gray cashmere sweatsuit from The Row, c/o LuisaViaRoma, along with an oversized bomber jacket from The Frankie Shop. I am always cold on planes, so I love layering and usually opt for a Wardrobe.NYC tank or tee styled as a base layer. And, I always opt for an oversized shopper to carry onboard. Recently I’ve been using a large, deconstructed canvas Balenciaga tote that fits all my travel essentials, from laptop to passports to my favorite face cream for some in-flight rejuvenation.” –Kate Davidson Hudson, editor-in-chief of Luisa Via Roma and LVR Magazine
“I do have a travel uniform, which is a very edited selection of essentials. I wear all black and navy blue always. I travel in Frame’s Flannel Travel Cargo, a classic tee like our Logo Tee in Noir and always a cashmere navy blue sweater — perfectly warm and cozy while still chic enough to head straight to a meeting. It’s important that my T-shirt is always a bit longer than my sweater — when sleeping on planes, which I do a lot, you don’t want your lower back to be visible or too cold. Shoes are sneakers for ease at security. Plus I often wear a navy blue Yankees cap, for hair management, and a navy blue, light 3/4 men’s coat from The Row that I’ve had for years — it’s a great all-around coat that doesn’t wrinkle. Finally, I use a Prada nylon backpack that frees up both hands — not as chic as a Hermès hold-all, but so very practical. When it comes to headphones, my special trick is wearing AirPods Max with AirPods Pro underneath when I’m ready to sleep, for maximum noise canceling.” –Erik Torstensson, co-founder and creative director of Frame, and investor
“During my recent trips to Doha for the fashion show Qatar Fashion United by CR Runway, which took place between the Semi-Finals and Finals of the World Cup, I needed my attire to focus on classics and function. Whenever I travel, my choices center around design, but also how quickly they can transition from business meetings to official functions. Right now, my go-tos are Nike Air Force 1s and anything in black — a combination of the French and New Yorker in me.” –Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, CEO of CR Runway and CR Fashionbook
“While it’s important to serve looks while sipping on Bloody Marys at the airport lounge, I want to feel really comfortable and chic doing it. I enjoy sporting a trench coat over soft AMI Paris sweats and some eye-popping sneakers, while everything else remains in neutral tones. I am currently eyeing the Adidas x Gucci women’s Gazelle sneakers in pink velvet.” -CeCe Vu, fashion creative