More Auto Brands are Racing into Fashion
Posted on: August 24, 2016 /
The Bugatti boutique in London
The world of luxury goods is all about cache: brands are either luxe-on-the-downlow (think Bottega Veneta’s logo-free ethos) or splashy and loud, telling passersby that price tags are just as high as the design (think Louis Vuitton’s monogram or Gucci’s Guccissima print). But luxury goods also include watches and automobiles, lest you forget, but the lines are blurring now, with fashion labels offering up watches and big name auto labels diving into the world of menswear, women’s ready-to-wear and leather goods.
A look from Bugatti’s Fall 2014 collection
The latest label to make the transition from autobahn to runway is Bugatti. The Volkswagen-owned automaker has just opened up a gleaming new flagship in London, where shoppers can browse exotic-skinned handbags and ready-to-wear right alongside the new Bugatti Veyron. The new store is just one way that the auto brand is expanding into a whole new lifestyle line, joining the ranks of Porsche, who has long had its fashion-focused line Porsche Design, and Ferarri, which has been offering up casual wear and handbags in Europe for decades.
The Bugatti boutique is an experience to behold. And although the clothing and handbags (which start at $6,400) are prominently on display, everything traces right back to that Veyron. The bags’ designs echo the lines of the car and even the boutique’s wooden floor is stained to match the car’s interior details exactly. Guys can browse everything from rugged leather jackets to black tie-ready formalwear with the scent of rubber and leather filling the air. There’s even Bugatti Atelier, a made-to-measure service for guys who want bespoke services. It’s a way for the line to offer up goods to customers that might not be able to afford an auto (the Veyron in the store is priced at $2.3 million), but still want a piece of the Bugatti pie.
Porsche Design’s Spring collection
It’s not a new concept, but Bugatti is joining the ranks of other luxury automakers in the world of fashion. Porsche Design launched its ready to wear line in 2009 and in 2013, launched a line of handbags. Tennis superstar Maria Sharapova was enlisted as brand ambassador to shift the public’s the focus to the fashion line.
The design arm of Porsche has been around for four decades, but it’s only been in the past few seasons that the brand has been ramping up publicity for its watches, sunglasses, ready to wear and more. The line opened a new flagship on New York’s Madison Avenue and has enlisted racing enthusiast Patrick Dempsey to co-design a watch, further pushing they’re fashion credit in the mind of consumers.
Inside a Bentley handbag
In 2013, Bentley launched its very first line of handbags at a private event in Pebble Beach. The bags, which start at $5,500, feature the same exacting standards of the automobiles. Borrowing from the cars’ interiors, the bags have chrome hardware, quilted leather and a place for all of your essentials. Critics said that the line would dilute the brand’s heritage and cache, since even now, it’s the cars that sell the products, not the other way around. For instance, the Ferrari brand was recently voted as the world’s most powerful brand by Brand Finance (based on worldwide brand affection, loyalty and profitability), but that’s probably not due to the brand’s fragrances (available at Target) or flashy tracksuits which are available throughout Europe.
In short, nobody is going to snag a Bentley just because they’re impressed by the quality and craftsmanship of the brand’s impeccable handbags. Instead, someone who is interested in Porsche might purchase a Porsche Design handbag because they want a bit of the Porsche lifestyle with them even when they’re not behind the wheel.
Victoria Beckham for Range Rover
And while this might just be the beginning of automakers in the fashion world, fashion designers have been lending their eye to the world of car design for years now. In the ’80s, Valentino had a special edition Lincoln Continental and who can forget those Eddie Bauer co-branded Ford Explorers? More recently, Victoria Beckham was enlisted by Range Rover to lend her talents to the Evoque model (it featured rose gold accents) and Fiat released a special Gucci edition of its 500 model when it entered the U.S. market — in the past, Gucci has lent its name to Cadillac and AMC. In addition, John Varvatos partnered with Chrysler for the 3o0C and Levi’s has outfitted the Jeep C7 with a special denim interior.