Porsche Design celebrates 50 years of innovation – WWD

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Automotive brands collaborating with fashion brands is nothing new, with some partnerships dating back decades. Today, associations are getting more and more publicity, whether it’s Ferrari putting on a show during Milan Fashion Week or BMW creating a car and a fashion collection with Kith.

One of the pioneers of this trend was Porsche Design, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Throughout 2022, the company will launch a series of products to commemorate the milestone, including two new models of its Chronograph 1 watch, first introduced in 1972, as well as sunglasses, sneakers, accessories and luggage. For those willing to spend a little more, as part of the celebration, the brand will also be showcasing a special car, limited to 750 vehicles worldwide and priced at $195,850.

The 1972 Targa was restored to its original condition for the anniversary.

Porsche, the car brand, has its roots in 1948 when Ferdinand Porsche started the company and produced 52 cars in a small garage the following year. The company remained in family hands for decades, but “a bit of friction” arose in the 1970s, according to Roland Heiler, design director of Porsche Design.

The story goes that Ferdinand Alexander (FA) Porsche, the design manager of the car firm, had just created the Porsche 911, when the head of the company, his father “Ferry”, tired of infighting, made the decision to move family members go out and seek outside direction.

This earth-shattering decision meant that FA Porsche had to find its next chapter. He decided to combine his name and job description and created Porsche Design in 1972. “That was when the car designer became a product designer,” Heiler said.

His first effort was to design a watch to give away to longtime employees of the car company, the Chronograph 1. “He had this brilliant idea of ​​a black watch, which no one had on their radar at the time. , but for him, a watch was not a piece of jewelry but a precision instrument,” Heiler said. As inspiration, he looked at the dashboards of racing cars and sports cars that feature a full black background with contrasting white numbers for easy visibility for drivers.

Heiler said when the watch was introduced people joked that it was the perfect funeral watch, but once Formula 1 drivers including Mario Andretti and Clay Regazzoni started wearing it, “it very quickly became the coolest thing you could have on your wrist.”

Then FA Porsche turned to sunglasses with lenses that could be swapped out depending on the lighting conditions. Since their introduction in 1978, Porsche Design has sold millions of pairs of these Model 8478 glasses, which have been only slightly modified from the start.

Porsche Design glasses.

Porsche Design glasses are among the company’s most popular products.

Over the years, the company also launched the Titan watch, the first to be made from titanium; the Worldtimer; the monobloc actuator and other innovative timepieces. It branched out into a variety of other categories and today Porsche Design offers a wide variety of eyewear, sportswear, bags and luggage, electronics, and home and style accessories. of life in addition to watches.

From 1972 until five years ago, Porsche Design was run independently from the carmaker, but in 2017 Porsche bought the Design Group and it is now a subsidiary of the car brand. “And the relationship is closer than it’s ever been before,” Heiler said.

Jan Becker, Managing Director of Porsche Design, added: “There was a time when Porsche Design tried to separate itself from the automotive sector as much as possible, but as Porsche Design carries Porsche under its brand, it is only natural that we try to link the two companies and brands when it makes sense.

Porsche car

Porsche Design works closely with car manufacturer Porsche.

Although Porsche Design continues to operate independently, “there are different ways to integrate with the parent company,” Becker said. These include within its retail network. Becker said Porsche Design operates more than 60 stores around the world to sell its products, but in recent years a few of those units, including one at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif., have also begun to display models. cars.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Becker said. “We share operating costs and generate automotive leads that are passed on to our automotive brand colleagues. It is therefore an example of an independent company that still cooperates with the parent company. »

The two companies are also working together on the Porsche Design Custom Built program where customers can customize their own 911 ‘dream car’, he said, and at the end of the process they can add a watch that will replicate the materials used in the vehicle. .

“The watch will have the same exterior color, the leather strap will be made from the same leather that covers the seats, and you will get your VIN engraved,” Becker said, adding that the back of the watch will feature your chosen wheels. for the car.

This personalization program has also been adapted by the watch company, allowing customers to design their own watch using Porsche Design’s online configurator, even if they are not building their own car.

This was introduced two years ago, Becker said, and has proven “very successful because there is nothing else like it on the market”.

Porsche Design leather jacket.

The leather jacket from Porsche Design has been specially designed to be comfortable behind the wheel.

Overall, Porsche Design operates flagship stores in major cities across Europe and the United States where the full product line is offered. The collection is also sold in about 100 stores run by franchise partners in airports and other regions such as the Middle East and Asia, Becker said. And there are more than 10,000 specialist retailers around the world, many of which are optical stores, which offer pieces from the collection such as eyewear.

Becker said the top-selling product remains watches, followed by eyewear, then luggage and bags. The athleisure collection, which he says is “not haute couture, but a sports collection that you can wear if you’re not literally doing sports,” has also grown in popularity in recent years.

Becker said it’s not just Porsche owners who buy Porsche Design products, but customers include “a significant number [of people] who have never owned a Porsche car, or are even interested in owning one, but are design enthusiasts who are looking for a performance product.

The majority of customers are men, but women will also buy luggage, laptops and sunglasses, he said.

For the anniversary, Porsche Design has created a collection highlighted by the matt black Chronograph 1 — 1972 Limited Edition watch, which is an exact replica of the original timepiece that has been updated with modern materials and movements. Only 500 were created at a retail price of $7,700 and they are already sold out.

A second version is more closely tied to the automaker, which has created a limited 50th anniversary edition of the Targa 911. Only 750 vehicles are produced and they feature black upholstery with gray stitching and a checkered pattern with a special anniversary badge . on the engine grille, an embossed “50 Years of Porsche Design” logo on the headrests and a numbered 911 badge on the dashboard.

Anyone who buys this car also gets a bonus Chronograph 1 — 911 Edition watch. Like the car, only 750 watches were made.

Beyond that, Heiler said that two years ago, Porsche Design bought a 1972 Targa and worked with the Porsche Classic division to restore it to the level of an all-new car. “We imagined a checkered flag fabric for the seats created especially for this car and a very high-end black paint on the exterior with beautiful chrome accessories.” This car will be auctioned at the end of the year with a chronograph watch. The company is still finalizing the details of this initiative.

“These are the core products for anniversary, cars and watches, but we went into other product categories that will be launched during the year,” Heiler said. They include the Targa leather jacket, a running shoe, new luggage and goggles.

Porsche design

A backpack is one of the products offered by the company.

The capsule includes a hard-shell trolley case ($750), aviator goggles ($880), reversible jacket ($1,050), RCT Pwrplate sneaker ($415), weekender ($790), briefcase beach ($115), high-top sneaker ($515), cap ($65), checkered flag t-shirt ($165), Targa gloves ($240), wallet ($119), crew-neck t-shirt ($140), leather jacket ($3,250), card holder ($75), checkered flag scarf ($255), backpack ($669), denim pants ($320), a passport holder ($109), a coffee table book ($65) and a ticket holder ($109).

To commemorate this anniversary, a six-month exhibition is on display at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.

For Heiler, the marriage of automotive and fashion underlines consumer dreams.

“Cars, especially high-end sports cars like Porsche, convey an image filled with desire and dreams, and if accessories meet that expectation, then they can be very successful,” he said. .

So what does the next 50 years of Porsche Design have in store for us? Becker said the latest push goes beyond accessories to “physical products” such as real estate.

The company opened the first Porsche Design Tower, a luxury beachfront apartment building in Sunny Beach Isles, outside of Miami, in 2017 that includes private pools in each apartment, an outdoor living area overlooking on the Atlantic, a private cinema, golf and racing simulator, and – wait for it – in-unit garages for owners to house their vehicles.

Another will open soon in Germany and a third is planned somewhere in North America which Becker says will be revealed shortly.

The company also struck a long-term deal with German hotel brand Steigenberger last December to build at least 15 luxury hotels around the world in metropolises including London, Singapore, Dubai and Shanghai.

“We think we’re better off if we don’t focus on physical products in the future and try to reach more of our customers in their lives,” Becker said. “So home and real estate will play a major role as we try to grow the brand over the next 50 years.”

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