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From NY to Paris: How Fashion Influences the Auto Industry

Written By, Chloe Lykes

As New York Fashion Week (NYFW) for the Spring/Summer 2017 season came to a close yesterday, things in the fashion world are just getting started. London’s Fashion Week begins today and the Paris, Milan and many more fashion weeks will follow. And while the trends on the runway are the immediate focus, the lastest fashions and trends also have a large influence on the auto industry.

While many people might not immediately see the connection between the two industries, they mesh on various levels including status, colors, fabrics, and materials -- all of which are big details to both industries.

For starters, automakers are important and big sponsors to fashion weeks around the world. Automakers including Mercedes-Benz, Chevrolet, Rolls-Royce, Kia, Lexus and Audi have all participated in fashion weeks in countries around the world for years.

Unsurprisingly many of the cars that co-star in various campaigns are luxury cars, but it's a fitting choice. The fashion brands that display at NYFW and set the direction of the season’s trends are often high-end luxury brands, so a high-end automaker like Lexus, known for trendsetting design and incorporating high-end materials into their vehicles, is appropriate on many levels.

Speaking of materials, just as designers carefully choose the fabrics and colors of their clothing, shoes and accessories, so do manufacturers for the interior of a car.

To decide the careful selection of materials on Chevrolet’s newest electric car, the Chevy Bolt, and their luxury staple, the Chevy Corvette, General Motors hired Ven Lai, a fashion and textile designer. Just as precise as an engineer is in the design of a car’s frame, Lai is for color and material selection.

Ever heard of Nappa Leather seating? It’s a type of leather that is just as desirable on purses, jackets or pants, as it is on car seating.

And finally, cars can set a tone or a mood just like clothing can, so cars have been used in fashion campaigns for years.  While sometimes a car is just a simple background piece, in many campaigns vehicles are more than an afterthought. More often than not, the model and vehicle work together to create a tone and personality for the clothing, whether natural, luxurious, rebellious or chic.

Take a look at the Michael Kors cad campaigns from 2005 and 2016 -- 16 campaigns are centered around or incorporate a vehicle. Though Kors has probably used cars in campaigns more than any other brand, other designers use autos as well.

In 2016, Chanel’s “Travel in Style” campaign in 2016, featured two models posed in front of a vintage rugged SUV; Coach used the neutral colors of the leather interior and classic exteriors of vintage American cars to complement their collection of purses; and Versace used a pastel blue car to highlight the subtle blue hues in the model’s sweater.

So do auto’s influence the fashion industry? We’ll see. With all of the wearable tech that has come along in the last few years, it's clear the fashion world is interested in the latest tech as well.
Perhaps fashionable helmets that double as protection will start to become a thing as more and more cars go driverless …