High End Labels Spreading Their Wings

Several high end luxury fashion brands are going beyond their comfort zones, exploring new business territories by designing several lines in technology and transportation, as reported WWD earlier this year.

We have noticed high end labels’ latest venture in signature mobile phones. Armani joined forces with Samsung to design a luxurious LCD TV (scheduled to launch on January 2008) and a mobile phone. The phone was recently revealed during Armani Spring/Summer 2008 runway show in Milan, on September 24th. The Armani-Samsung phone would be the size of a credit card and 10.5 millimeters thick. Quoting from Engadget mobile, it would be priced at €400 (about $557), with several features: tri-band 900/1800/1900 GSM, 3 megapixel camera, 2.6-inch 262K color, QVGA touchscreen LCD, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support, microSD expansion, full Internet browser, and support for H.263, AAC/MP3/WMA audio and MPEG-4 video.

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Samsung had previously teamed up with Versace’s second line, Versus, bringing in the Versus E500 phone last year. In 2005, Samsung introduced the Anna Sui couture phone, collaborating with Anna Sui and VOGUE magazine. They also took Betsey Johnson under their wings to launch the Betsey Johnson Samsung E315.

Collaborating with LG Electronics, Prada created quite a stir in this designer cell phone fiasco. Released earlier this year, the Prada phone has a remarkable physical resemblance to the Apple iPhone. The Prada phone is sleek, sans keypad, and has a sophisticated touch screen. It was said to be released only in Europe and Asia. Italian designer house, Gucci, was reported to jump into the designer cell phone bandwagon following the Prada phone. But nothing has been confirmed yet, some said it was only a rumor, it would then remain a mystery.

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Meanwhile, last month Baby Phat released the limited edition of Baby Phat Motorola RAZR and SLVR in pink. They are sold a lot less than their earlier phones. In 2004, Motorola and Vivienne Westwood launched the limited edition Vivienne Westwood Motorola V600. And in 2005, Motorola and Dolce & Gabbana teamed up for a gold-colored version of the RAZR mobile phone, the Motorazr V3i Dolce&Gabbana. Siemens and Escada had also teamed up in 2006 for Siemens SL75 Escada Golden Chic slider phone.

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I think we’ve seen ENOUGH of these designer signature phones! Fortunately, other fashion brands prefer to expand beyond mobile phones. Ferragamo signed a two-year contract with Maserati to design accessories inspired by the luxury auto legend. Quoting from Yanko design, this collaboration will create five unisex made-to-order leather pieces that include a suitcase, a weekend bag, a cosmetics case, a garment bag, and a shoe holder. The $10,000 accessory set would fit flawlessly into the trunk of the new Maserati Gran Turismo Coup.

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Besides the Versus-Samsung phone, Versace is committed to take over the luxury transportation. The brand itself already has several exclusive lines of sport cars, yachts, and private jets. They’ve done a Versace edition of Lamborghini Murcielago, and in 2006, they started to design interiors of private jets in collaboration with Tag Group SA. Earlier this year, Versace also teamed up with Agusta Westland to design helicopters.

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I’m sure there are still a number of collaborations which aren’t mentioned here. New players will be joining the war and future projects will arise in this battle of high end labels and designers in exploring other opportunities beyond fashion. Hopefully it would appeal more to the mass market and won’t be another designer phone craze which I have no interest in getting one myself. After all, would you ride a car plastered with Versace’s Medusa heads? I know, I wouldn’t.

Sources & images courtesy of: wwd.com, news.yahoo.com, yankodesign.com, engadgetmobile.com, gizmag.com, mobiletracker.com, direct.motorola.com, pradaphonebylg.com, thecellfreak.com, luxist.com, fashionweekdaily.com, geeksugar.com, tech.yahoo.com, pocket-lint.co.uk, techiediva.com