Fashion inspired by tech – or even utilising new tech – is nothing new. Likewise, car companies sponsoring a Fashion Week isn’t exactly ground-breaking.
But an automobile manufacturer sponsoring designers and showcasing the parallels between carmakers and clothesmakers in terms of innovation? Now that’s a shoe… er, horse… of a different colour.
This year is the fourth year Mercedes-Benz will be one of the main supporters of New Zealand Fashion Week. And for this year’s edition, they’re recognising iconic New Zealand label Zambesi – themselves no strangers to working with tech companies and other brands that focus extensively on innovation – as the brand’s 2017 Mercedes-Benz Presents designer.
Currently supporting more than 60 fashion platforms globally, including title sponsorship of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks in Sydney, Milan, Amsterdam and Istanbul, Mercedes-Benz’s brass say there are unique parallels that exist between the automotive and fashion industries, including an embrace of avant-garde design, usage of high-quality materials, and first-class technical innovations that are all necessary ingredients for success.
Founded 1979, Zambesi will premiere its 2018 Autumn/Winter collection as ‘Mercedes-Benz Presents Zambesi’. The show will be the debut evening show at this year’s Fashion Week. To celebrate the partnership with Mercedes-Benz, Zambesi have also created two bespoke ensembles which will feature in the runway show.
Zambesi menswear designer Dayne Johnston says innovation is key to any industry – and teaming up with another innovative company from another industry can only benefit both brands.
“It is incredibly inspiring to be associated with a brand like Mercedes-Benz. Innovation, quality and craftsmanship are at the core of our design process, so we are very excited to be partnering with Mercedes-Benz who share those same values.”
Zambesi co-founder and designer Elisabeth Findlay says something similar. “Mercedes-Benz reflects confidence, sophistication and imagination, making it the perfect fit for Zambesi. The integrity of both brands brings a harmonious partnership which we look forward to celebrating!”
Earlier this year, Zambesi teamed up with smartphone makers Huawei for the launch of their P10 smartphone. Taking inspiration from the Pantone colour tones of the phone, the team commissioned the creation of four outfits, which were showcased at the Auckland launch event for the phone.
In addition to the ‘Mercedes-Benz Presents’ runway show on the opening night of Fashion Week, Mercedes-Benz will support the event as the “official automotive partner” by providing a fleet of official event vehicles to transport VIP guests, as it does at many fashion weeks around the world.
Ben Giffin, general manager of Mercedes-Benz Cars New Zealand says it was Zambesi’s strong reputation for high-quality innovation that most appealed to Mercedes-Benz for a team-up. “Fashion remains a key interest of our customers, and the New Zealand public alike, and we’re excited to deliver another luxurious and engaging experience at New Zealand’s most important fashion platform as an elite partner for a fourth consecutive year,” he says. “Over many decades, Zambesi have proven their commitment to New Zealand fashion, and established an outstanding reputation for high quality, innovative garments. We’re absolutely thrilled to partner with a brand of their calibre.”
The Mercedes-Benz Presents designer programme was first initiated at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios in Los Angeles in October 2003. Several designers were chosen to launch the initiative including Cynthia Vincent, Petro Zillia, Alicia Lawhorn and Louis Verdad. The programme has since evolved, and at the 2003 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York, Badgley Mischka was chosen to be part of a style and design feature. Since then, designers such as Monique Huillier, Derek Lam, Carla Zampatti, Dame Trelise Cooper and Harman Grubisa have all been selected as Mercedes-Benz Presents designers.
Designers are chosen for their unique style, creative flair and quality craftsmanship, and all receive support from Mercedes-Benz, ranging from sponsored runway space, to behind-the-scenes features, and a vehicle to drive.