Hubert Burda Media

Breaking Away From The Car-Only Mould

Luxury automakers are putting their imprint on more than just automobiles. 

A car showroom isn’t just a place to admire, test-drive and buy a car to suit your needs (or desires). You’ll also likely shop a range of apparel, accessories and memorabilia, which you might flaunt in tandem with your latest set of wheels. In the case of Ferrari, not only can you purchase an entire wardrobe from its online store, you can even get a Ferrari-branded watch, wallet and bag to match.

Like the Prancing Horse, more auto brands have broken away from the traditional cars-only mould — in the race for greater brand equity and engagement. Many set their secondary sights on fashion, whether working closely with labels on capsule collections (Bentley with Ethan Koh and more recently, Bugatti with Giorgio Armani), or launching special edition cars dressed by noted designers (Land Rover Defender with Paul Smith, Jaguar XE with Stella McCartney and Aston Martin Vanquish Volante with Valentino, to name a few). For a time, the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Audi were even active members of the fashion establishment, thanks to glitzy partnerships with the New York and Singapore Fashion Weeks.

Using their own DNA as building blocks, others have chosen to exercise creativity of a different kind — going the way of watches, mobile phones, yachts and even hotel rooms. Maserati teamed up with Bulgari to create the Bulgari Octo Maserati timepiece, while McLaren and TAG Heuer came together for the MP4-12C ticker. Jaguar has its own masculine fragrance, created by perfumer Dominique Preyssas, and stablemate Land Rover put its name to rugged mobile phones made by US-headquartered Sonim Technologies. Most recently, McLaren-Honda, in view of the Singapore Grand Prix in September this year, collaborated with the Hilton Singapore to unveil its first motor racing-themed hotel suite for the Formula 1 season. And the list goes on.

So which are the car manufacturers who are as skilled under the hood as they are in creating a lifestyle to match?

Aston Martin

The British automaker is no stranger to creating limited edition timepieces, having linked up with Jaeger-LeCoultre from 2005 to release three versions of the watch manufacture’s Amvox collection. This year, it entered a global partnership and racing collaboration with Richard Mille. While the Swiss watchmaker will support the Aston Martin Racing team in international races such as the FIA World Endurance Championship, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Nürburgring 24 Hours, there are also plans for the carmaker to “develop a collection of luxury high-performance watches”, reveals Katia Bassi, managing director of AM Brands.

Other than watches, the marque also unveiled its first Aston Martin powerboat, the AM37, in September last year. Crafted together with Dutch boat-maker Quintessence Yachts, the vessel is said to be a translation of Aston Martin’s DNA — beauty, power and soul — into a new maritime concept.

Bentley

The Bentley Suite in the St.Regis Dubai

Furniture, handbags, timepieces…the list of lifestyle items that Bentley has put on the market is a lengthy one. In its latest lifestyle expression, the British auto brand has taken one step further out of the box to introduce Bentley Suites at The St. Regis hotels. To date, three have been unveiled — one each at The St. Regis New York, Istanbul and most recently, The St. Regis Dubai in Al Habtoor City. Located on the fourth floor, the latter is a custom-designed 195-sq-m space that offers the same level of luxury as its cars, with design features reminiscent of Bentley’s own signature style, such as diamond quilting, fluted leather walls and an LED chandelier inspired by the headlights of the Mulsanne. “This latest luxury development brings an added dimension to our partnership with design themes that showcase the defining characteristics of contemporary elegance and stylish refinement of both brands,” says Christophe Georges, director of product and marketing at Bentley Motors.

The Bentley GMT B04 S carbon body chronograph form Breitling

The automaker has also launched smartphones created during its five-year partnership with luxury mobile phone brand Vertu. Launched in September 2015, its third phone, the Signature Touch for Bentley, comes pre-programmed with an app that brings you exclusive content, tailored events and VIP access from the automaker. The marque also has a 13-year partnership with Swiss watchmaker Breitling, which has resulted in a string of timepieces, including the 250-pieces-only Bentley GMT B04 S Carbon Body chronograph that was released at Baselworld 2016.

Ferrari

The MP-05 "Laferrari" sapphire by Hublot

When watchmaker Hublot came on as Ferrari’s official timekeeper in 2011, it was a first sign of what would be a fruitful partnership. Over the years, the collaborators have unveiled several timepieces, including the latest iteration of the MP-05 “LaFerrari” Sapphire. First launched in 2013, the MP-05 “LaFerrari” was created as a tribute to the supercar of the same name. This year’s version comprises a case middle carved from sapphire to allow the movement to appear suspended in mid-air. Earlier creations of the timepiece include the All Black and Titanium editions. The watchmaker has also named iterations of its iconic Big Bang after the automaker.

Ferrari also launched a fragrance in 2014, concocted by Emilie Coppermann, a perfumer who has crafted scents for brands the likes of Burberry, Carolina Herrera, Givenchy and Comme des Garçons.

Mercedes-Benz

The vessel birthed from Mercedes Benz's partnership with Silver Arrows Marine

Since 2010, the German automaker has worked with selected partners to develop exclusive products that speak of the same high-quality and design philosophy of the brand and its cars. Its latest introduction is a luxury motor yacht, designed together with Silver Arrows Marine. Named the Silver Arrow of the Seas, the vessel is said to stand for “modern luxury, avant-garde style and comfortable elegance”, says Gorden Wagener, vice-president of design at Daimler AG, which owns the German brand. “In developing the new motor yacht, we have transferred our expertise to the marine industry, creating something never seen before in the process.” Other items in Mercedes-Benz’s repertoire of fashion and lifestyle products include an exclusive line of menswear by Hugo Boss, Harman Kardon Bluetooth speakers and headphones, tumblers from Tervis and Contigo, and limited edition timepieces from IWC.

Bugatti

Bugatti Home Collection with Luxury Living Group

The French supercar manufacturer is another brand not afraid to extend its lifestyle universe. Unveiled at this year’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile, and launched in partnership with high-end furniture brand Luxury Living Group, the Bugatti Home Collection is a furniture line that borrows Bugatti’s unique stylings such as its two-tone colour scheme and famed horseshoe-shaped front grill.

Says Massimiliano Ferrari, head of Bugatti Brand Lifestyle for Bugatti Automobiles: “Our distinctive character is increasingly moving towards a Bugatti global lifestyle. By complementing our current lifestyle collection with an interior design proposal, we are now taking another step ahead.”

Last December, the French marque also embarked on a project with yacht-maker Palmer Johnson to launch three carbon fibre sport yachts, bearing the name Niniette and ranging from 42ft to 88ft. Bugatti also partnered Italian brand Montegrappa for a series of writing instruments last July, and watchmaker Parmigiani Fleurier for the Parmigiani Bugatti Super Sport timepiece.