Brand Development Luxury Luxury Brand Development Marketing Partnership Marketing & Commercial

Luxury brands hit the road

Luxury retail brands extending their reach through partnerships with automotive manufacturers.

I’ve been reading with interest how successful Fiat has been in selling their limited edition 500byGucci model. They have now sold over 3000 cars and sales of their convertible edition are bound to hit the roof.

This is pretty impressive when you think that the Gucci edition commands a 31% price premium over the equivalent unbranded model.

So, a successful partnership then: Fiat needs to continue to position their 500 as the car for urban early adopters, ahead of the fashion curve. Sales of new cars are down and limited editions are a great way to lift sales later on in a model’s lifespan.

These editions are better known in France than in other European markets. The Rolling Stone model VW Golf was a great seller, followed closely by the Bon Jovi edition and the Pink Floyd edition. The rest of Europe hasn’t maximised the potential of brand partnerships like this. The only ones I can recall recently are:

  • The Aston Martin DB7 Dunhill edition, complete with humidor between the front seats-
  • The iconic Paul Smith Mini, dressed in signature stripes


What’s in it for Gucci? Well- they are pretty much guaranteed to have 3000 mobile adverts for their brand, seen with the iconic Gucci colours, hanging out in all the best places. And much of the revenue from luxury brands does come from the aspirational customer- someone who would buy the brand’s core products if they had the disposable income but, for now, are satisfied with ‘brand extensions’ such as perfumes, books and the less costly accessories. At Vogue’s Fashion’s Night Out earlier this year, the Alexander McQueen store was filled with fans, but few of them looked like they were buying dresses. The queue at the checkout was mostly people buying a copy of the book of the brand for £35, and it is these people to whom products like the 500byGucci is targeted.

So how do you find the perfect brand partnership? I asked David Pickles, Chief Executive of Simbiotik(the brand partnership agency), who shares his thoughts:

“An automotive limited edition can be a marriage made in heaven. The automotive brand is looking to make a product positioning statement – ‘if you want to show you like this brand, drive our car.’ while the luxury retailer is looking to extend the circle of admirers and find another way for the brand advocates to proudly display their allegiance. If the matchmaking is right, the relationship can be a successful one.”

What other brand partnerships would you like to see?

Here are my top seven marriages; a few that I believe would sell a few extra cars late on in their model’s lifespan:

  1. Morgan Roadster by Norton and Sons– Both brands promote their long heritage, coupled with a touch of English eccentricity
  2. Range Rover Vogue by Lanvin– no holes barred luxury without compromise
  3. Range Rover Sport by Matthew Williamson – extending the feminine demand for this emerging classic
  4. Infiniti FX by Commes Des Garçons– eccentric modern Japanese styling, without fear of pushing boundaries
  5. The Bentley Mulsanne, by Mulberry – nothing can rival the quality of finish.
  6. Smart Car by Vivienne Westwood (avoiding trends, but always in fashion)
  7. And finally, the G-Wiz by Muji (urban-focused with form following function)

Is it time to get out the CAD programmes and submit some mockups? It would be a great project for a designer to be given the opportunity to influence the future identity of a select few cars parked outside the cafes of Europe. Just like Frida Giannini was at Fiat.

(Featured Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash)

One comment

  1. Really good read and got me thinking of some other relevant examples. One more I would add to the list is Aston Martin. They have teamed up with French fashion brand Collette for a special edition of their city car the Cygnet. The perfect inner city fashion statement.

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