Ford, which announced in May that it would be seeking partnerships outside of the auto industry, is getting involved in sustainable fashion.
Ford’s Fusion Labs workshop, which launched in June at LA’s art, music and fashion event Made LA, partnered with denim brand 69 Denim and fashion label RTA Crew and Collective for two products: jeans embroidered with custom Ford Fusion patches and screen-printed eco-friendly tote bags.
The auto company is tapping fashion partners to promote the new Ford Fusion, a model made with sustainable materials. RTA Crew and Collective screenprints its label onto environmentally friendly and sustainable materials, while 69 Denim’s gender neutral items are ethically made and manufactured in LA. The brand also donated “upcycled” denim materials to Ford for its 2017 Fusion: the scraps were used as insulation in the car’s sound system.
“We commend designers that are making eco-conscious choices, and we hope that our efforts to develop sustainable materials and eco-conscious vehicles will inspire and engage fashion designers and consumers alike.” said Anthony Prozzi, senior designer at Ford, referencing the new model’s more eco-friendly features, like the scrap-material insulation and coconut-fiber floor mats.
Ford has partnered with fashion in the past, working with companies like Milk Studios, Rent the Runway and Vogue. This is the first time its fashion chops have focused on sustainable fashion brands. As an auto company, Ford, like Cadillac, is turning to fashion to expand its audience and appeal to a new consumer. Whereas Cadillac partnered with the CFDA for the Retail Lab, an incubator and shop space for up and coming fashion designers in its Manhattan headquarters, Ford is inserting itself into sustainable fashion with its workshop collaborations.
“Car companies like Hyundai, Cadillac, Ford — they’re all trying to upstage each other with concepts where there’s a lot less focus car dealing or selling and more focus on experiences,” said Erich Joachimsthaler, CEO and founder of Vivaldi Partners Group. “That’s a good thing, an experience merely defines the brand more than a 30-second ad.”
Joachimsthaler said that auto retailers are smart today to put forth a point of view — in Ford’s case, a stance on sustainability — since it’s becoming harder for car companies to catch the attention of new consumers.
“The importance of a relationship to the consumer is changing, and car companies are figuring out ways to bypass the dealership and get in front of an audience,” he said.
According to Brooke Blashill, director of The Boutique at Ogilvy, the agency Ford partnered with for its Fusion Labs, the goal of the collaborations was to show there’s more to Ford than just car stuff.
“These experiences all brought the [2017 Ford Fusion’s] style features and sustainability proof-points to life, transcending traditional ‘auto-speak’ to reach real people,” said Blashill.
To further push its focus on sustainable materials, Ford is associating itself with companies outside of fashion. On Tuesday, it announced a collaboration with Jose Cuervo to explore the tequila brand’s agave plant byproduct to develop a more sustainable plastic in car manufacturing.
Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co., hinted toward the company’s collaborative expansion during a May conference: “You’ll see a lot of partnerships, a lot more than you used to see in the auto industry,” he said.