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W Hotels Worldwide Announces Partnership with Council Of Fashion Designers Of America’s {Fashion Incubator}

NEW YORK – September 5, 2012 – W Hotels Worldwide today announced a fashion forward partnership with CFDA {FASHION INCUBATOR}, the newest program from the Council of Fashion Designers of America that provides a creative professional environment to foster promising fashion talent and helps the selected designers grow and sustain their businesses.  In addition to financial support, W Hotels will also bring a new element of global exposure to CFDA {FASHION INCUBATOR} designers through its portfolio of 42 hotels and retreats around the world as well as deep-reaching digital and brand marketing channels.  Serving as an important step in growing the designers’ businesses, this new partnership will mark the first opportunity the CFDA has had to showcase the {FASHION INCUBATOR} beyond the borders of New York City.

“W Hotels has been a longtime supporter of fashion, and we are thrilled to partner with the CFDA {FASHION INCUBATOR} to continue our support of emerging talent,” said Carlos Becil, Vice President of Brand Management, Starwood’s Luxury and Design Brands, North America.  “We recognized that by partnering with the CFDA, an organization that has a credible, time-tested pulse on the fashion industry, we could together have an even bigger impact on the businesses of rising designers.”

In recognition of the contribution, W Hotels Worldwide will be named ‘Partner’ of CFDA {FASHION INCUBATOR}, which includes Ari Dein, Burkman Bros, Daniel Vosovic, Emanuela Duca, Isaora, NUMBER: Lab, Reece Hudson, Timo Weiland and Whit.

“W Hotels and CFDA share a mission to support and nurture emerging talent,” said Steven Kolb, Chief Executive Officer of the CFDA. “Our new relationship will provide a truly unique opportunity to create exposure and new business opportunities for our CFDA Incubator designers on a global level.”

W and CFDA {FASHION INCUBATOR}: Designed to Inspire
As part of the partnership, W Hotels and the CFDA will bring {FASHION INCUBATOR} designers out of New York City and into markets that are important to growing their businesses, a first such opportunity for the {FASHION INCUBATOR} program.  The partnership will travel {FASHION INCUBATOR} designers to W Hotels around the country for fashion showcases and special events, providing exposure to new retailers, media and consumers to drive sales. W Atlanta – Buckhead will host the first in the {FASHION INCUBATOR} showcase series later this year.

Beyond exposure for the brands, W will help inspire by offering all designers a trip to one of the W brand’s 42 urban or resort destinations around the world. Whether it’s shopping the spice markets in Istanbul or discovering the live music scene in Austin, {FASHION INCUBATOR} designers will be able to visit some of the most glamorous W properties for inspiration that will come to life in one of their upcoming collections.

Lastly, W will bring a new level of global exposure to the {FASHION INCUBATOR} designers through its digital and brand marketing channels.  With more than 1 million monthly visitors to WHotels.com and nearly half a million fans and followers across its social platforms, W will provide a great opportunity for these designers to reach new consumers.

"We're thrilled at this opportunity and grateful to W Hotels for their commitment to supporting emerging designers,” said Ricky Hendry, designer of {FASHION INCUBATOR} menswear brand Isaora.  “We're excited to take our brand to a wider audience through this partnership and feel there is a great alignment between W Hotels passion for design led luxury, their clientele of global tastemakers, and our own aspirations to build a world class brand based on design excellence. We are very much looking forward to working together to make the most of this exciting initiative.”

W and Fashion: The Evolution
Since its inception in New York City in 1998, W Hotels has identified fashion, a direct extension of design, as one of its key passions to appeal to its jet set guests, who are always looking for what’s new and next. As the reach of W Hotels has expanded globally, it has become a more active participant in its passions of design, fashion and music, which has enabled the brand to champion emerging talent around the world.

For many years during New York Fashion Week, W Hotels hosted a backstage VIP lounge that quickly became a popular place for celebrities, designers and fashion’s media elite in-between shows. In 2010, W was the first ever hotel brand to engage a global fashion director, which led to the creation of Fashion Next, a seasonal fashion initiative that offered a select group of young designers the opportunity to showcase their work during the New York  collections.  Over the years, the W brand has also collaborated with designers, including CFDA Members, such as Diane von Furstenberg and Michael Kors on uniforms and guest amenities.

For more information on W Hotels, please visit www.whotels.com/fashion or www.facebook.com/whotels. Follow W on Twitter @whotels.

About W Hotels Worldwide
W Hotels is a contemporary, design-led lifestyle brand and the industry innovator with 42 hotels and retreats, including 14 W-branded residences, in the most vibrant cities and exotic destinations around the world. Inspiring, iconic, innovative and influential, W Hotels provides the ultimate in insider access, offering a unique mix of cutting-edge design and passions around fashion, music and entertainment. W Hotels offers a holistic lifestyle experience that is integrated into the brand’s sensibility through contemporary restaurant concepts, glamorous entertainment experiences, stylish retail concepts, signature spas and inspiring residences. With more than 13 years of proven success, W Hotels is on track to reach more than 60 hotels by the end of 2015. W Hotels have been announced for Guangzhou, Milan, Shanghai, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Athens – Astir Palace, Muscat, Mumbai, and Santa Fe, Mexico, while upcoming W Retreats include Verbier and Mexico’s Riviera Maya.  For more information, visit www.whotels.com. To live the W Hotels lifestyle 24/7/365, visit www.wresidences.com.

About the CFDA 
The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc, (CFDA) is a not-for-profit trade association that leads industry-wide initiatives and whose membership consists of more than 400 of America’s foremost womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers. In addition to hosting the annual CFDA Fashion Awards, which recognize the top creative talent in the industry, the organization offers programs which support professional development and scholarships, including the {Fashion Incubator}, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, the Geoffrey Beene Design Scholar Award, the Liz Claiborne Scholarship Award, and the CFDA/Teen Vogue Scholarship. Member support is provided through the Business Services Network, a high-profile group of companies offering designers strategic opportunities. The CFDA Foundation, Inc. is a separate, not-for-profit organized to mobilize the membership to raise funds for charitable causes. Through the Foundation, the CFDA created and manages Fashion Targets Breast Cancer; raises funds for HIV/AIDS organizations with 7th on Sale; addresses the issue of model health with The CFDA Health Initiative; and is a key participant in other programs such as the annual Fashion’s Night Out. For more information, please visit www.CFDA.com.

The Fashion Incubator is one of a series of City-sponsored business incubators launched since Fall 2009 by Mayor Bloomberg as part of the City’s efforts to foster the development of entrepreneurs across all industry sectors, and to encourage small businesses to locate and grow in New York City. New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) provided a $200,000 grant to help establish the CFDA’s {FASHION INCUBATOR}. Today, the CFDA gratefully acknowledges Target, the program’s Lead Underwriter and W Hotels, our Partner. Additional support is provided by Newmark Holdings, New York University’s Stern Consulting Corps, School of Visual Arts MPS Fashion Photography program, DNA Model Management, WGSN, and more than 100 of the leading experts in the fashion industry who serve as Business Mentors, Industry Advisors and assist in the ongoing development of the program.

(Note: This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities regulations. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance or events and involve risks and uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated at the time the forward-looking statements are made. These risks and uncertainties are presented in detail in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although we believe the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, we can give no assurance that our expectations will be attained or that results and events will not materially differ. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.)

Article Publish Date: 09/05/2012