From Boutiques to Boutique Hotels: How Fashion Brands are taking Lifestyle to a whole new level

Coco Chanel once said, ‘Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.’  While she said this about 50 years ago, she could not have been moreprecise about how the fashion industry is today, nor could she have guessed how far it would extend.

Now, more than ever, it is becoming evident that fashion is no longer just a matter of clothing choice but a way of living. Fashion is everywhere: on your bedsheets, on your mobile phone, in your living room, on your sports gear, in your floral arrangements, on the buildings, in the metro, in your cocktail, and at times its even on your food! Yes, the fashion industry is slowly taking over every inch of any market, injecting it with a heavy dose of glamour and style. But despite this growth in practically all directions, one industry stands out as the perfect stooge for fashion’s ploy to slowly take over the world: the hotel industry.

Versace PalazzoFor the past 20 years, hotels have started popping up across the world, labeled with names like Giorgio Armani S.p.A., Missoni, Bulgari, and Versace. And while these names, in essence, have nothing to do with hospitality whatsoever, you have to admit it is sort of intriguing. The thing about lifestyle brands is precisely that: lifestyle. They are focused on providing a full experience for practically any aspect of your life. And this is exactly the reason why, despite the lack of experience and the questionable pricing strategies, fashion designer hotels are giving the Ritz Carlton and the Savoy a run for their money.

Think of it this way, what does ‘Bulgari’ mean to you? You don’t think jewelry and watches and end there, do you? You think Elizabeth Taylor, Italy, and champagne; glamorous parties, beautiful clothes, diamonds, and basically anything that is considered a 5-star treatment, with the added panache of always being in vogue. That is what fashion designer hotels offer - not simply high quality service, but a chance to have the Bulgari life for a weekend. Take it from Francesco Trapani, previously from Bulgari, ‘Our dream is a Japanese person who gets married in a Bulgari Hotel, buys his spouse’s gift in a Bulgari shop and spends the honeymoon in a Bulgari resort.In this sense, its no longer about the number of stars. Fashion designer hotels offer a fashionable lifestyle that the Four Seasons cannot seem to offer on their menu.

Ferragamo HotelWith its sudden outbreak into the hotel industry, the trend actually started with the Lungarno Hotels in Florence, under the label of Salvatore Ferragamo, in the year 1995. Today the Lungarno Collection boasts of a number of resorts, hotels and villas spread across Rome, Florence, and Tuscany, dedicated to providing the same quality that the Ferragamo name is known for - traditional italian heritage.

Five years after, in 2000, the house of Versace put up its own hotel called Palazzo Versace located in Gold Coast, Australia. The waterfront hotel has around 200 rooms, and looks as though Donatella Versace had designed and installed every single detail herself. With an average of 400 dollars a night, it promises the life that you can imagine being a Versace must feel like. Palazzo Versace has now also started to build its second hotel, located in Dubai.

BvlgariBy 2003, in partnership with the Ritz Carlton, the Bulgari group began penetrating the hotel industry by establishing Bulgari Hotels and Resorts. With already three key locations, its hotel in Milan is a fan favorite, particularly during fashion week, and is located conveniently in the center of Milan’s premier luxury fashion district - right between Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga. Other locations include Bali, London, and Shanghai in 2015.

Another popular designer hotel would be the Armani Hotel in Dubai. Located in the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. The hotel has around 160 rooms and looks like it came straight out of Armani Casa. With an average price of 545 dollars a night, the establishment also includes Armani Dolci, Armani Fiori, and the Armani restaurants. The Armani hotel, as you can imagine, can also be found in Milano at Via Manzoni - known as the Armani district - right by Via Montenapoleone.

MoschinoOther fashion designers that have also started to enter the hotel industry include: Maison Moschino in Milan, the Missoni Hotel in Edinburgh, the Elie Saab Hotel in Dubai, Louis Vuitton’s Cheval Blanc in Courchevel, and Alberta Ferretti’s Palazzo Viviani in Castello di Montegridolfo, just to name a few. While these hotels are pretty much spread across all continents in the world, the favored location for designer hotels still remains to be Milan, Italy for obvious reasons.

In just that small amount of time, fashion brands have made major waves in the hospitality industry, despite the large number of five-star competitors. Thanks to the examples led by Armani, Ferragamo, Bulgari, and Versace, fashion brands are no longer afraid to take that extra step into providing a full range of lifestyle services. With the success of this new breed of lifestyle boutiques, it is becoming increasingly clear how strong the fashion industry is growing to be. At some point it just no longer seems appropriate to still call fashion an ‘industry’. Like Coco said, ‘Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.’