W is partnering with famed `70s designer Diane Von Furstenberg to offer Emergency Fashion Kits featuring Ms. Von Furstenberg's signature black wrap dress and a one-size-fits-all thong through the 24-hour concierge service in some locations and in its stores in September, as well as Emergency Survival Kits featuring DVF makeup in its in-room Munchie boxes.
Though well past the age of the 20- or 30-somethings she is attempting to reach, Ms. Von Furstenberg showed her ability to glean what drives today's young women when, discussing with W execs the possible scenarios that would necessitate an on-demand dress, she suggested candidly (likely with a wink), "What if you wake up in the wrong room?"
Kate Sullivan, director-marketing and brand management, DVF, joked, "It's the walk-of-shame program." Really, though, she said, the alliance is intended to remind women that the designer understands and has something to offer for the fast-paced way women live today.
Ross Klein, senior VP-chief marketing officer at the Starwood Hotels & Resorts chain, said the tie-in with DVF is one of a number of co-branded efforts W plans to roll out this year as it pushes forward with the Whatever/Whenever mantra that Mr. Klein describes as catering to guests' needs "from the banal to the blissful ... as long as it's legal."
`FLIRTY, ESCAPIST, INSIDER'
"We don't want to turn the room into a commercial experience but we do want to make it service-oriented without the normal hotel servitude," he said, offering things on demand that are in keeping with the chain's "flirty, escapist, insider" feel.
DVF hangers in the closets of rooms in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago will feature Post-It notes beseeching guests, "Have you forgotten something?" and informing them of the availability of the dress kit, for a mere $320, by dialing the concierge. (Try-on samples in sizes 2 through 10 will be brought to guestrooms and a fresh one in the proper size delivered later in a W/DVF branded garment bag).
W will also play up the alliance with the itinerant Ms. Von Furstenberg through various guest collateral materials, on its Web site and through marketing around a special "Wonder Woman" package that includes a discount room rate along with the makeup kit, Ms. Von Furstenberg's book, "DVF the Wrap" and a DVF silk eye mask. The iconic designer will also be a guest speaker in a number of W Happenings events this fall.
Long relegated to vintage racks, Ms. Von Furstenberg renewed her design business eight years ago to attempt a comeback that involves turning her every-woman dress design into a contemporary lifestyle brand complete from rouge to rugs and herself from nostalgic to now. The W effort is intended to foster that via access to the chain's fashion-savvy set.
According to Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group, hotels are increasingly turning to lifestyle education, whether it be how to pamper yourself, dress for success or travel better, as a way of differentiating themselves from the competition. And becoming part of that, he said, is a smart move for DVF, who "doesn't make it on the radar screen" today as a big designer name.
"Diane is getting exposure she would never normally get if she took out ads in a magazine," Mr. Cohen said. "When people see a message in their room, their guard is down and they take a more leisurely approach to listening and retaining what they see there." The hope, he said, is that such vulnerability will help Ms. Furstenberg push the rediscovery and reinvigoration of her easy-fit, easy-to-pack wrap dress among the younger set.