Colin Hunter, co-founder of bespoke menswear brand Alton Lane, has a goal to integrate his brand’s custom-fit suiting into travel. Right now, one of the projects the brand is working on is a cruise partnership where customers get fitted on the first day of a cruise and have a custom suit waiting for them when the cruise ends.
For Hunter, travel is a natural fit for his brand, particularly considering Alton Lane’s higher price points and personalized experiences, both signatures in the travel industry. For many brands, travel has increasingly become a valuable target area, where they can reach customers at an ideal time and slot the brand seamlessly into a larger experience. As experiential retail continues to grow in popularity, the benefit for both brands and travel companies, like any good collaboration, is that they can both grow their audience by reaching people they may not have otherwise been able to.
“I spent a lot of time reading about other industries, especially luxury in other industries, because that’s what our customers are used to,” said Hunter. “If you look at luxury hotels or travel, the key piece is consistency. If we can combine our innovation [in product and production] with that consistency, and be disciplined about that, that’s ultimately what customers want.”
Hunter said the brand is looking to launch the cruise idea in the next year.
The past few months have seen a number of fashion brands partnering directly with travel companies. In early December, for example, Rent the Runway struck up a partnership with W Hotels, which let guests pre-select clothes from Rent the Runway’s catalog before their trip and have those clothes waiting for them in their room when they arrive.
It’s a move that Rent the Runway’s COO, Maureen Sullivan, characterized as a no-brainer.
“It just makes so much sense for convenience’s sake,” Sullivan said. “Everyone knows that feeling of how magical it would be to not have to pack and just show up and your wardrobe is there. The point of rental is freedom and integrating into the travel world gives people that freedom and convenience.”
On the more traditional retail side, MatchesFashion worked with the Pellicano Hotel in Italy last March for a yacht-based pop-up that traveled the Italian Riviera, stopping at three hotels and offering a selection of vacation-themed pieces, mostly from Italian designers.
Last November, Abercrombie & Fitch partnered with the Hoxton hotel for a traveling pop-up that started at the Los Angeles Hoxton before traveling to the Brooklyn branch of the hotel later that same month. At the time, a statement from Abercrombie & Fitch said that “appealing to today’s consumer means finding ways to reach them wherever, whenever and however they choose to engage with the brand.”
The idea is that brands like Alton Lane or MatchesFashion share an overlapping customer with various hotels and travel companies that aren’t direct competitors. Fashion and travel can tag-team to fill out a comprehensive experience for their customers without stepping on each other’s toes.
“As a custom brand, we are all about versatility and making our customers feel comfortable and relevant, wherever they are in the world,” Hunter said. “There is an immense opportunity for fashion and travel brands to collaborate and create bespoke experiences and product, which for us is top of mind.”