Can Arthur Kar Build The Supreme Of Cars? | BoF Professional, News and Insights


Porsche’s latest collaboration won’t be unveiled at a car dealership or motor show, but in an avant-garde fashion paradise: the Dover Street Market in Paris.

The famous German automaker has teamed up with Arthur Kar, a French specialist car dealership known for its rare models aimed at a well-connected clientele as well as for its love of fashion. For the reconciliation, Kar deconstructed and rebuilt a Porsche 968, reimagining it as a roadster in custom green paint, with taillights emblazoned with Kar’s logo and fitted with a TAG Heuer stopwatch, custom Bose audio system, and Ecco leather.

The ‘968 L’Art’ car will be on display at Dover Street Market, where Kar will also launch a complementary clothing collection of graphic t-shirts featuring his and Porsche logos and green jackets inspired by Formula 1 uniforms from the 1990s. The collection will also be available on Kar’s own website as well as at The Broken Arm in Paris and at select Porsche dealers. (The special edition car is not for sale.)

Arthur Kar at work on the Porsche collaboration. Automobile Art

Kar’s collaboration is the latest example of growing activity at the intersection of fashion and premium automotive. Much like skateboarding and surfing formed the cultural foundations of a streetwear market that is now worth billions of dollars a year, some are betting that automobiles – especially rare and vintage sports cars which can be powerful symbols. of taste and status – can support successful new fashion ventures. .

Over the past two years, Palace Skateboards has created a clothing collection with Mercedes-AMG; Teddy Santis of Aimé Leon Dore created Porsche branded collections to mark two restoration projects with the company; and Kith designed a limited edition BMW M4, also accompanied by a collection of designer clothing. Ferrari launched its own ready-to-wear collection at its hub in Maranello, Italy, earlier this year and on Monday announced a multi-year design collaboration with LoveFrom, the creative collective founded by Jony Ive and Marc Newson.

Meanwhile, interest in the world of performance racing is growing: the Netflix documentary show “Drive to Survive”, which follows the Formula 1 season and its drivers, became the number one television series in the world in March. of this year, according to the FlixPatrol streaming data tracker.

“Cars are part of the hypebeast canon,” said Chris Black, partner of the creative and branding agency Done to Death Projects. He said that while skateboarding and surfing are niche communities that have developed, enthusiasm for cars is already much more widespread.

“Most men grew up fetishizing cars and the culture around them,” Black said. “Loving Porsche and buying a Porsche are two different things. “

But a fashion line (other than the branded clothing sold by the automakers themselves) has yet to tap into that aspiration, and Kar is looking to change that.

Born in Beirut, Arthur Karakoumouchian moved to France at the age of nine and began working for his father’s garage at a very young age. As a teenager, Porsche hired him as a mechanic in one of its Parisian branches. In 2011, Kar went on his own by launching his L’art de l’Automobile dealership, sourcing new and vintage rare cars. He keeps his client list private but has established a network of prominent friends and creative collaborators including Kanye West, Travis Scott and Virgil Abloh. This has earned him profiles on Highsnobiety and the fashion e-commerce site Ssense. The latter described him as “the car dealership of fashion”.

Kar has identified a gap in the trendy product market to engage premium auto fans beyond traditional car sales. In 2017, he launched his streetwear-savvy collection.

“You can be part of Porsche culture without being rich,” said Kar. “For me, it’s more about passion for cars, not about money.”

With his label, Kar has sold a range of t-shirts and accessories like sunglasses, usually under $ 300, and has collaborated with people like Vans and Carhartt. Kar told BoF that the fashion line now generates as much revenue as its car sales.

The merger with Porsche could be a turning point for Kar. It is certainly his most prestigious collaboration to date. But he has plenty of other projects. A collaboration with sneakers is underway and he plans to expand the categories offered by the Automotive Art label beyond basic merchandising styles.

“But I don’t want to oversaturate the market,” Kar warned. “I want my brand to tell an authentic story, not to sell a meaningless product. “

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Ferrari had launched a ready-to-wear collection in Paris. He does not have. The collection was unveiled at the automaker’s center in Maranello, Italy.

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