In the comments section of last week’s article, “Car Couture: The Ultimate Bore?“, members of The Hog Ring community noted that the primary reason why automakers overlook professional auto upholsterers to work with fashion designers is money. Of course, they’re right.
BBC Autos recently published an article highlighting Chrysler Group‘s obsession with commissioning special-edition vehicles trimmed by famous brand-name designers, like John Varvatos and Carhartt. The article included an interview with Chrysler’s CEO Saad Chehab, who confirmed how well these vehicles sell.
Dressing its models in rather bespoke threads and marketing them as special editions has had an impact on the company’s bottom line. Chehab notes that 25% of Chrysler brand sales are going to specialised models and limited editions of its familiar products.
To date, the most commonly used bridge has been the 300, Chrysler’s full-size sedan. There is the sportier 300 S, the audiophile-targeted Beats by Dr Dre 300, the broodingly dark 300 customised by GQ Magazine Designer of the Year and Detroit native John Varvatos, and the ice-cool white and black 300 Glacier. […]
The latest of these limited-run models is a mid-size Chrysler 200 sedan dressed by blue-collar stalwart Carhartt. The sedan features a black water-resistant fabric reminiscent of Carhartt’s work clothes, accented in diesel gray stitching. […]
The special edition models have proved particularly popular in California, Chehab said. While Californians pay in the same dollars as residents of other states, their position as trend leaders bodes well for the company’s nationwide success. [more]
Well, there you have it folks. With limited-edition, designer-trimmed models accounting for a quarter of all Chrysler sales, it’s no wonder why automakers continue to partner with trendy brand names.
Clearly, gimmicks sell. I just wonder how automakers expect their customers to have their interiors repaired after their warranties run out. No auto upholstery shop I know of carries John Varvatos or Carhartt fabric.
And when the buyers of these “Limited Edition” models need some sort of interior repair, they will truly know the meaning of “Limited Edition” because there will be no fabric available to make the repair.
Eric's Auto Upholstery says
I think it’s a nice car, Limited Edition. Though I agree with stitch, going to have problems finding materials for interior repairs. This has been a issue on these Limited Editions. Very difficult to match up replacement materials, especially for seats.
Nadeem Muaddi says
You mean you guys don’t stock Isaac Mizrahi cloth? How strange… lol
Edward Munday says
Retired… I Dont Suppose Going Bankrupt As Many Times As Chrysler Has Would Have Anything To Do With It, They Just Throw Up There Hands And Let The Government And Some Highly Paid Pushers Get Them Out Of Debt, Dont You Just Hate It When Some Else Always Gets All The Free Stuff.As You Can Tell Im Not A Gm Or A Chrysler Fan As Far As There Bussines Goes, Although I Have Earned Money Repairing Some Of There So Called Vehicles.
We had Fiat 500 Gucci edition in the shop recently, the only way to repair the rear seat that HER DOG HAD PEED ON was to replace the seat cover. Another shop had tried to dye it and completely ruined the texture, and the red dye from the fabric insert had bled onto the white leather. Just the 40% seat bottom cushion was $2446 from Fiat parts (granted, retail). http://www.fiatusa.com/images/gallery/2012/500/gucci/26_interior.jpg
That said, I’d like to see an article on the profitability for dealers and trim shops on some aftermarket special editions like Roadwire’s Hot Wheels or Platinum and Katskin’s Rawling’s.