It seems that fashion and travel have long been connected. For those who can remember, Braniff Airlines in the 1960s made headlines when they turned to Emilio Pucci to design the uniforms for the crew, complete with plastic space helmets to keep the stewardesses’ hair from getting mussed when crossing the tarmac. In the 1970s, Braniff made another big splash by working with Halston, and much more recently airlines have tried to show their sense of style by partnering such noteworthy designers as Giorgio Armani with AIitalia, Christian Lacroix with Air France and Adolfo Dominguez with Iberia.
On the flip side, fashion brands seem to be attaching themselves to travel more than ever as they look to imbue their products with the virtues and aspirational pull of our category—romance, adventure, escape, discovery. Travel also serves to ground fashion brands in something real—through colors, texture, culture, history—providing a backdrop and context for a narrative that brings a sense of authenticity and meaning to a brand’s story.
An example of just how far this connection has gone can be found in a new line of perfumes called The Scent of Departure, which have been launched at such prestigious retailers as Henri Bendel. The brand claims to offer “the essence of a city in a bottle,” with a promise that you can instantly enjoy “the air infused with the sweet smell of lilacs in Central Park, with intoxicating perfumes from passersby on the Champs-Elysées, with clouds of spices wafting through Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar...”
Not to be outdone, Guerlain has a line called Les Voyages Olfactis inspired by cities ranging from Hong Kong to New York. And, Stila’s Beach Palettes offer vacation-themed cosmetics in colors like “Wonderful in Waikiki” and “Haute in the Hamptons.”
Many fashion brands are increasingly giving customers a richer look into the journeys and places that are shaping fashion. For instance, Michael Kors regularly posts his pictures on Destination Kors and offers a Travel Diary that provides his perspective on the places he’s visiting and drawing inspiration from. Travel is also a major section within the Club Monaco Culture Club blog which features photos and musings of the brand’s staff as they travel across the world for work and pleasure.
No doubt the examples and connections between fashion and travel go on and on, from Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren, to J.Crew and Anthropologie, to the Hotel Missoni Edinburgh.
The good news is that this love affair is not just helping to position and showcase our respective industries, it may also be creating a greater desire to travel among those who care about fashion and style.
Iconoculture’s Quantified Analysis found that fashion-conscious consumers traveled more frequently in the past 12 months than their less-style-minded cohorts. In that period, 15% of those who embrace fashion took seven or more trips and 27% took three to six trips, compared to 8% and 23% respectively for those less chic.
Iconoculture identified the “fashion conscious” using a composite score of the values of “image” and “cool” and items like “Being stylish…,” “I really like prestigious brand names,” and “Being stylish or fashionable really makes me stand out from the crowd.”
As one might expect, these fashion-conscious travelers are also turning to more planning resources, much as they turn to more shopping venues to find the ultimate apparel. Always in search of more options and never content to settle (until they find the perfect “fit”), these fashion-forward travelers seek out an average of 4.1 information sources, versus their less-style-minded counterparts who only average 2.9. The fashion conscious outdistanced the non-fashion conscious on getting information from the Internet (67% to 60%), ads on TV (29% to 17%), company websites (27% to 17%) and blogs written by individuals (9% to 4%).
As travel marketers, it seems that we should all be looking to see how we can get our fashion on, embracing style-forward-brands as a conduit to the consumers who see travel as a way to connect to the lifestyle that their favorite fashion brands both promise and promote.
Everything points to this being the perfect fit. In fact, the fashion industry has even been kind enough to call an entire apparel category cruise wear.
Now it’s our job to wear it well.