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Designer and Creative Consultant Emma Horton looks at how car brands are embracing collaborations in the fashion space – and vice versa!
The auto industry has been getting more and more prominent in the fashion and collabs space over the last couple of years.
The unexpected partnering of Versace and Ford in their pre-Fall 2019 collection led to mixed reviews, however in the eyes of creatives in the industry it was seen as a great new aesthetic for a heritage brand, incorporating bright blocky colours and oversized logos.
It was polar opposite to the stripped back vibes that streetwear brands have been giving their auto industry collaborations over the past few years.
This is highlighted perfectly in last week’s release of the second collaboration between New York fashion label Aimé Leon Dore and Porsche. A sophisticated 70s summer vibe with muted tones and products ranging from trucker caps to leather driving gloves, it somehow manages to exude a timeless elegance alongside a cool street feel.
Another collaboration in this space that felt stylish and authentic was Porsche’s link up with Puma last year. Paying homage to the brands’ heritage automobiles in a tight capsule collection with an obvious nod to PUMA’s cool, subtle styling – the collection flew off the shelves.
It was no surprise then that PUMA chose their next automobile partner in BMW for a range that gives off a fashionable, classic aesthetic.
This follows in the footsteps of streetwear giant KITH who released a collaboration with BMW to huge acclaim last year.
The phrase that has been banded around a lot over the last couple of years is “Anybody who loves fashion, loves motors.” To some extent I feel that’s true, as many of the fashion brands that have collaborated with auto manufacturers have gone on to create designs for the cars themselves!
The collaboration I mentioned earlier between Aimé Leon Dore and Porsche also saw the fashion house venture into the auto world, with the firm’s founder and creative director Teddy Santis redesigning a 911 Super Carrera.
“Working in partnership with Porsche is always a deeply humbling experience and a privilege, but this project specifically left me with a deeper appreciation for the company, its core values, and the amazing people that work there,” said Santis.
The same is true of KITH’s partnership with BMW. The fashion brand’s Ronnie Fieg designed an exclusive vehicle for BMW in the form of the BMW M4 Competition x KITH.
The model was limited to just 150 units and the project saw the BMW and BMW M logos redesigned for the first time in their history. Instead of the blue and white BMW trademark, a co-branded roundel emblem with Kith lettering sits on the bonnet.
“Everything we work on at Kith must come from an authentic place,” said Fieg.
“Some of my favourite childhood memories were visiting my grandfather and driving around in his BMWs in the 1980s. I remember that he had an E21 320i and that his most prized possession was an E30 M3. These moments in my life have really shaped my passion for BMW, so working on this project with them has brought everything full circle.”
Towards the back end of 2020, we also saw Virgil Alboh collaborate with Mercedes-Benz on “Project Geländewagen”. The collaboration saw Abloh work with Mercedes-Benz’s Chief Design Officer, Gorden Wagener, to create something to make consumers look at Mercedes-Benz designs with a fresh perspective, driving ideas of ‘luxury’ away from a polished aesthetic to something rawer.
Another interesting tie-up came earlier this year between Drake, Chrome Hearts and Rolls-Royce. With its uber-branded interior and overstated exterior, it’s a great example of how collaborations between car brands and fashion houses can be embarked on in radically different ways.
It’s interesting to see then how this integration of industries is going to pan out in the near future. We have seen a lot of VW on the high street for many years and although motoring has never been at the forefront of the licensing industry, is this pattern starting to change?
The announcement this week that Mattel is bringing a new dimension to kids licensing with Hot Wheels partnering up with Tesla makes me think that there’s much more to be explored with car brands across the wider licensing industry.
It’s most definitely one area to keep your eyes on!
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