BMW X Kith brings streetwear collaborations to automotive
BMW's brand language has very much done a backflip in the past 5 years and most recently they're embracing the newfound style.
I sat in a BMW meeting a couple of years ago when they were talking about marketing strategy here in Australia for the new 1 series at the time. A car which I really loved. I loved it so much in fact that in May of this year I bought its sedan counterpart the M235i Gran Coupe. But I think what I loved more about that 1 series was the fact that BMW were no longer sticking to the same old product design and features that were targeted at that normal 40+ male audience that BMW have in the past pandered to.
Another thing that surprised me in that meeting were the team were referring to case studies in streetwear collaborations and they talked about a conceptual form of marketing known as the dog whistling. Basically it means creating demand for a product by making it exclusive. It's about luxury from creating a need for that luxury, not by pricing it as a luxury item (which in previous years is how you strategise placement for luxury automotive). And honestly? For streetwear anyway, it works. Most recently Union in Los Angeles did a collaboration with Nike called Union Jordan. The Air Jordan 4 X Union sneaker sold at $320AUD retail and at this article's publication was re-selling for well over $1,000AUD.
BMW today have taken one step further towards embracing this new marketing strategy. They've previewed a new collaboration with renowned luxury streetwear designer Kith. Excitingly, the collaboration is looking just as much luxury wear as it is streetwear. It's looking like genuinely exclusive articles of clothing, with a range of polos, cardigans, pullovers and jackets seemingly hinted at so far.
Kith has had a long history with collaborations as well, and in fact the designer has done it's best work when working with other brands. The list is long: Asics, Nike, Adidas, Fear of God, Moncler, Casio, Converse and if I were going to sit here and list every brand Kith has been involved in I would be sitting here for days. It also comes as no surprise though that Kitch have seemingly done the BMW brand justice as well.
With absolutely no bias here, I actually sent an email this morning requesting pre-orders from BMW for the pieces. Of course, prepared to pay for them, just happy to be able to get my hands on any of the work at all. And I think that's the thing many motoring enthusiasts will have to be prepared for when this fashion line launches. It's going to sell out, and it's going to sell out quick. If you want a piece of it? You're probably going to have to get in mega early.
The collaboration though is telling to BMW's long term future. They're proving they're a brand that can call back to their history to build a bridge to the future, and are prepared to use any tools at their disposal to do so. It's also not the first time BMW have collaborated with other brands. I actually have a Mont Blanc X BMW special edition Meisterstuck pen sitting on my desk. BMW collaborated with Mont Blanc on the piece in 2016 when they launched the newer 7 series, but have continued to release co-lines ever since.
Other luxury automotive brands are doing the same. Most recently, Mercedes teamed up with Off-White heavyweight and founder Virgil Abloh to create a re-imagined G wagon. A car which while I quite loved, everyone else seemed to hate. Then again, I'm no stranger to Virgil Abloh's work. I own a bunch of Off-White clothing and Nike X Off-White sneakers myself.
Porsche have gone down that same path as well. They collaborated with famous street artist Daniel Ashram on his new eroded piece named "Eroded 911 Turbo). The series of artwork is a modernised take on classic and famous 90s products which have faded over time. In this case Ashram's model is based on a Porsche 930A Turbo. I myself tried to get my hands on one of these pieces at launch (and failed). They're now reselling at well over $7,000USD.
I honestly believe though this is going to be the sign of whats to come over the next decade in automotive. We'll see more collaborations between fashion houses, designers and automotive manufacturers on special edition cars and lifestyle collections. They're an easy way to create exclusivity for vehicles. Because these pieces are typically so hard to acquire as well they have secondary consequences as well such as raising the base re-sale value of those special edition vehicles and of the original vehicle which the special edition is based off.
Consumers lap it up as well. They love the collaboration age. They love the fact that they're getting the best of both worlds. They love that two companies can take the best elements of their individual products, combine them and make one ultimate exclusive product. It shows through in brands like Nike's market value over the past 3 years. Where Nike's share price was struggling during the 2000s and early 2010s, it's risen over 140% in the past 3 years alone. And if they continue to innovate and take advantage of collaborations they'll continue to have success in all other parts of their business as well.
All of this aside, I'm looking forward to a full reveal of the BMW X Kith collection. As soon as it comes about my pre-order will be in. And I'll be excited to see the partnership continue well into the future, where we possibly see what elements of Kitch the designer can bring to a BMW vehicle. That collaboration is hinted in the campaign's launch video (which can be viewed above). For now, paint my jacket in red and let me loose on the street. I'm wearing BMW X Kith.
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