June 3, 2013
New York department store Bergdorf Goodman is partnering with General Motors’ Cadillac to switch up its direct mail magalog strategy by featuring vehicles alongside its fall fashion.
For the first time, Bergdorf is calling on a non-fashion brand partner to be included in the cover story for the fall preview magazine. The issue’s theme is the history of style in the United States and will feature vintage-inspired items as well as classic Cadillac models.
"From our perspective as we continue to elevate the brand, connecting high-end fashion and Cadillac is a natural integration, particularly because Cadillacs from every era have defined style and continue to push the design envelope," said Melody Lee, director of reputation and brand strategy at Cadillac, Detroit, MI.
"Fashion and the automobile have been intertwined for many, many years," she said. "As you can see from the Bergdorf shoot with Cadillac, even historical cars have a modern relevance in today’s definition of style.
"Both industries are about setting trends and embracing style."
Bergdorf was not available to comment directly before press deadline.
Bergdorf held the photo shoot for the “Start Your Engines” cover story at General Motors’ Detroit-based facilities. Sites included the on-site wind tunnel, the GM Heritage Center and the GM Design Studio.
The spread was photographed by Arnaud Pyvka and features model Eniko Mihalik who wore a cropped black wig.
Christian Dior dress
On the cover of the magazine and within the 24-page spread are Cadillac models that were introduced as early as 1902 such as a 1912 Model 30, 1953 Le Mans and the 2001 Ciel concept car.
Fashion pieces featured in the story are from brands such as Christian Dior, Oscar De La Renta, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs and Dolce & Gabbana.
Dolce & Gabbana dress
The June fall preview issue is currently available at Bergdorf and will be mailed to recipients.
The retailer is also offering content and bonus images from the Cadillac photo shoot on its 5th/58th blog and social media pages.
Both brands are using the hashtag #TurnofStyle on the appropriate social media channels to discuss the fall magazine collaboration.
“This collaboration is further evidence of a practice that has been in place for years – discovering fashion inspiration in unexpected and unconventional ways,” said Elizabeth DeMaso, managing director of Clutch Collective, New York.
“Likewise, the automotive industry is influenced by fashion, making it a natural pairing,” she said. “Featuring classic vehicles and vintage fashion side-by-side establishes the far-reaching history of that relationship."
Many automakers have partnered with fashion labels for design collaborations. Such is the case between new brand partners Ermenegildo Zegna and Fiat’s Maserati (see story).
But automakers may be realizing that there is potential in luxury retail partners.
"Cadillac's strategy for this initiative aligns with their goal of sustained perception as a top luxury auto brand,” said Jason B. Cohen, executive vice president at The O Group, New York.
“While they could have followed the industry trend of partnering with a fashion or spirits label, such as Chrysler, Ferrari and others have, by working instead with a department store brand such as Bergdorf Goodman, they're able to leverage that brand's cachet, along with those of designers the cars will be featured with,” he said.
“This particular concept also lets Cadillac remind Bergdorf consumers and the world-at-large that it's been doing luxury for over 100 years.”
In addition, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars recently targeted affluent Harrods shoppers with window displays to celebrate the British debut of the Wraith vehicle.
This display marked the first time that the British automaker has put its vehicles on display in a retailer’s windows (see story).
Luxury brands often partner to cross-market their products and services, but partnerships that venture outside of the norm can be most effective at getting a message to a broad, target audience.
“Both fashion and automotive face the constant challenge of having to sell through new ideas seasonally and yearly, whether or not a product actually requires replacement,” Mr. Cohen said.
“They're also both image-focused categories where perception often supersedes reality,” he said.
Tricia Carr, associate reporter on Luxury Daily, New York