Car companies such as Cadillac, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz have traditionally dominated fashion week sponsorships, but a now different mode of transportation is courting the industry's attention. Global entertainment conglomerate WME/IMG announced on Thursday that Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has signed on to sponsor fashion week events around the world in a multiyear deal. It's the first partnership of its kind for fashion and the airline industry.
The relationship kicks off on May 20, when Etihad will support a special summer 2016 Oscar de la Renta show in Sydney, Australia. IMG announced on Wednesday that the American brand will close the upcoming Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, marking the first time Oscar de la Renta has presented a runway show in the country. In addition to the fashion events Down Under, the airline will sponsor WME/IMG men's and women's fashion week events in New York, London, Milan, Berlin and Mumbai in 2016 and expand to a total of 17 events in 2017. Etihad's network of smaller airline companies — Alitalia, Jet Airways, Air Berlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Niki and Etihad Regional — will also participate.
Exactly what this marketing relationship will look like is yet to be determined, but it will include "guest-focused promotions and offers" and "travel-oriented relationships" with fashion designers, models, stylists, other sponsors and more. "As a result of our business model, Etihad Airways Partners will collectively unveil a wide range of exciting new fashion initiatives for guests in our home market of Abu Dhabi and throughout the world," said James Hogan, Etihad Airways president and CEO, in a statement.
Fashion isn't the only industry through which Etihad and WME/IMG have joined forces. In March, Etihad announced another multiyear deal to support WME/IMG's Taste Festivals, a global series of food events.