Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia is slated to kick off in Sydney this weekend, and there’s one major airline hoping to serve as the premier mode of travel for fashion’s most notable players.
Etihad Airlines recently announced plans to sponsor 17 of the WME/IMG fashion week events around the world. For a company that offers the most expensive flight in the world — $38,000 to travel in luxury from Mumbai to New York City via Abu Dhabi — it makes sense that the company is partnering with one of the most exclusive industries.
Sydney’s event is the first on the docket. Etihad will be transporting a number of “well known international designers,” including members of the Oscar de la Renta team, according to Patrick Pierce, vp of sponsorships for Etihad.
The airline, which is based in Abu Dhabi and shuttles more than 17 million passengers a year, is fairly new, having joined the market just over 13 years ago. Pierce said last year the company conducted a major review of sponsorship efforts across the portfolio to identify areas of growth, settling on fashion as a hot topic.
“The fashion business travels a great deal,” he said. “But from a brand perspective, you’re talking about an audience that is obviously trendsetters and influencers. They care about travel, they care about exploring, they’re very stylish, they’re very sophisticated.”
He added that the company’s aesthetic complements the fashion crowd: “Our personality, our voice, our tone, I think fits well with the fashion audience. There are a lot of different touch points that make this a pretty natural tie-in.”
The company is also in the middle of a long-term investment in technology that involves increasing in-flight Wi-Fi offerings and catering to customers’ broader technology needs. For the fashion set, this means anticipating what designers, models, photographers, stylists and media want most when making the circuit from New York to London to Paris to Milan.
“We’re trying to understand the insight of a model, and how he or she is trying to travel, and what matters to them,'” he said. “We want to get very close to consumers so we can have a very catered and tailored approach to their travel needs.”