Fashion and accessories made by car makers are not as cheesy as they used to be
by Hannah Elliot / BLOOMBERG
You’ve seen Friends, right?
Did you see the episode in which Joey dons a Porsche jacket and fanny pack, holds a Porsche keychain, and stands on the street near a pile of cardboard boxes shaped like a Porsche 911 underneath a cold-weather cover? The charming — but light-in-the-wallet — Joey uses the tableau to pick up women under the pretense of owning a cool car.
The kicker to the scene is that, as Joey tells his friends, “only an idiot would wear this stuff if he didn’t own the car”. Ha, ha.
At the time, that scenario wasn’t far off. In the 1990s, most of the produce hawked from car brands was cheaply made and tacky. Years ago, the flimsiest pair of headphones I ever used were given to me by Lamborghini; any normal human, not to mention someone with a sliver of fashion sense, would balk at wearing the screaming red polyester polo shirts produced en masse from Ferrari.
Things have changed. In fact, several automakers are producing some of the bestdesigned, most functional — and yes, even coolest — watches, sunglasses, and leather goods on the market today. As well they should — at some companies, the cars and the accessories originated virtually hand-in-hand.
Ferdinand Alexander Porsche created the 911 and, after the family decided to pull out of the car company’s operational management in 1972, founded Porsche Design, the company that creates and markets all the accessories.
“Translating the puristic and functional design philosophy from the sports car into exclusive products beyond the realm of the automobile was successfully executed by FA Porsche and his team,” says Roland Heiler, the MD of Porsche Design. “The ingredients are still the same today: Innovation, high quality, timeless design and authentic materials.”
Seventy years farther on in the car business and 46 in the accessories industry, Porsche
“would be incomplete” without the watches, sunglasses and many other items produced under the Porsche Design brand, Heiler says.
That’s quite a reputation to live up to. So far, so good. Here are some of the best items on sale from Porsche and a few other brands you’ll recognise.
Steve McQueen himself would be proud.
Porsche Design Sunglasses, uS$475 (RM1,838)
These are the iconic pair that Yoko Ono made famous many times over. The ones sold here are
a reproduction of the model from 1979. They are made out of titanium and polycarbonate, and come with a Porsche-branded carrying pouch. They’re a strong statement, so proceed with caution. When done right, they look killer.
Porsche Design Chronograph, uS$5,100
This Chronotimer Series 1 in polish black resembles the original designs from Porsche Design in the 1970s — in fact, it’s based off the first run of watches Porsche made. The timepiece comes in sapphire crystal dial cover with a sapphire case back, a polished titanium case, and black titanium, carbide-coated bracelet. Water-resistant, it’s made in Switzerland.
Early issues cost half what new ones do today. Deadstock vintage ones go for closer to US$10,000. Expect these to appreciate similarly.
Porsche Design Luggage, uS$2,145
These bags are sleek, functional and low-key, the way a good 911 should be. The locking set comes with ergonomic aluminium grips and lightweight side bars, four independently rotating wheels, and two large, main compartments with a strong mesh divider.
Ferrari Scarf, US$160
Here’s a low-key piece that is distinctly Ferrari without yelling about it. The soft jacquard knit scarf features the famous Ferrari shield repeated in a big pattern above a small fringed edge. True to form, it’s made in Italy. Consider it a necessary addition for those drop-top drives in early spring.
Ferrari Umbrella, US$135
It’s a little expensive, but this black umbrella is probably the most subdued item Ferrari makes. It comes with a rubberised grip, sturdy aluminium structure, and a carbon-fibre effect on the outside canvas that helps to block ultraviolet rays. Keep it in the trunk; you’ll be glad you did.
Scuderia Ferrari x Puma Shoes, US$115
Most car-branded shoes are not cool. It’s better to drive in sneakers or loafers, anyway. But these shoes, made from brick-red cowhide, are cute and don’t scream for attention. They come with a thick, padded tongue and sock liner, with reinforced heel and toe. Wear them in the car and out.
Bentley Fountain Pen, £595 (RM3,243), US$833
For the pen collector who has everything (they do exist), Bentley makes an unexpected gift. This one, by the 102-year-old Italian brand Tibaldi, has an 18-carat solid gold nib and Tibaldi’s famously smooth ink flow. Call it perfect for updating the maintenance ledger on the Mulsanne. It comes in “Silver Tempest”, “St James Red”, “Silverlake Blue” and “Beluga”.
Bentley Driving Gloves, £95, US$133
These refreshingly minimal gloves are for ladies, though Bentley makes soft, supple ones for men, too. They have a subtle design, with a keyhole back, perforated fingers and a Bentley B stud closure that resembles the wheel centres on the Continental coupe, among other Bentley cars. They come in beluga (black) or tan and beluga.
Bentley Racing Bag, £595, US$833
Porsche makes cool carry-on luggage shells for when you’re getting on a flight, but this heritage-style Bentley duffel is perfect to throw in the car for a weekend trip. It’s based on the famous “Bentley boys” racing team from the 1920s and ’30s and is made from sturdy leather in Bentley racing green. Interior side compartments are included.
Naim for Bentley Bluetooth Speaker, £1,199, US$1,687
Naim is a 44-year-old, high-end audio manufacturer based in Wiltshire, England, a perfect complement to Bentley’s heritage. The 450W speaker connects to and streams any music source. It has a rotary control that includes Bentley’s signature knurling effect, plus an aluminium body and detailing that looks like Bentley’s cabin grilles.
Bentley Home Ambassador Sideboard, Pricing on Request
These are respected pieces in their own right, having debuted at the prestigious Maison & Objet Fair in Paris last year. An initial line was manufactured in collaboration with Luxury Living Group, one of Europe’s leading furniture makers; following sales success, esteemed architect Carlo Colombo and Daniele Ceccomori, Bentley’s head of product design, expanded the line. The suite of furniture available includes a bed, sofas and armchairs. The “Ambassador” sideboard is especially handsome, with modern architectural themes done in steel gun-metal structure, lava-coloured leather and briar root or ebony macassar veneer.
Rolls-Royce Picnic Hamper, Pricing on Request
Possibly the most primo picnic basket available, the teak hamper carries lead-crystal wine glasses, Wedgwood crockery and handmade stainless-steel cutlery. It’s trimmed in saddle leather and polished aluminium. Fine plates, pots and bowls come with service for four.
BMW x Montblanc Fountain Pen, US$780
German and Swiss engineering combined here for something special: The Montblanc x BMW Meisterstück fountain pen is hand-made, with a 14-carat gold nib and rhodium-plated inlay in the black-resin body. Three platinum rings line the cap, with a platinum-plated clip of the same stately elegance as a 7-Series sedan. It comes in various shades of blue, black, purple, gray, brown, yellow and red.
Land Rover Heritage Leather Jacket, US$575
While you’re still debating whether Belstaff or Barbour is better, here’s something to hold your attention. The soft-leather of Land Rover’s heritage field jacket has a logo-embossed front pocket, sleeve patches, side adjusters in the back and checkered palm lining. It’s subtle enough that no one will guess it’s made by a car company, just that you’ve had it for a long time. That’s a good thing.
Mercedes-Benz AMG Cigarette Racing Boat, US$2 Million (refer main pix)
Mercedes has long partnered Miami-based Cigarette Racing to make some of the world’s fastest water vehicles. This one is the latest: It has 3,100 total horsepower and can hit a top speed of 140mph. The look and colour scheme of the boat is based on the MercedesAMG Project One hybrid supercar developed from Formula 1; it’s the fastest, most advanced boat Mercedes-AMG and Cigarette Racing Team LLC have produced in their 11-year partnership. Only six will be made this year.
Tag Heuer x Aston Martin, 1,500 Swiss franc (RM6,055.05)
Recently, in Geneva, Tag Heuer announced it’ll be the exclusive watch partner with Aston Martin. What this means for you is that the two brands will develop a collection of watches “encompassing all aspects of motor racing including the World Endurance Championship series”, according to Aston Martin. One standout is the TAG Heuer Formula 1 Aston Martin Racing chronograph, a 43mm quartz chronograph made in steel, with a notched bezel. It has a black dial with lime-green indexes and a winged Aston Martin Racing logo. The leather strap has top stitching that reflects the livery of the Aston Martin Racing Team.
Bugatti Bicycle, US$39,000
This bike caused quite a splash when it debuted last year, and for good reason. It weighs only 10lbs: The frame, fork, rims, handlebar, seat, seat post, crank and brake are made of reinforced carbon fibre. Plus, it’s exclusive. Only 667 of them will be made at company headquarters in Germany. There are a few caveats, though. The bike is so special and stiff that the company recommends that you not ride it on public roads (track riding only). And if you have the ample means to cover the cost, expect a wait time. Each example will be fitted to the exact sizing and specifications of the owner via an extensive fitting process.
Lamborghini T-Shirt, US$93
The Lamborghini Countach is the most iconic vehicle ever to come out of Sant’Agata Bolognese. The retro-cool T-shirt is 100% cotton. I’ll make this very simple: If you’re female and you wear it, you’ll get plenty of attention.