Most don't immediately think fashion when they hear the word Porsche. (Unless you're a car collector, in which seeing the 2013 Porsche 911 Camera S at a car show is your version of NYFW 2012.) With a new store in the Galleria, and 10 stores to be opened in other cities by the end of this year, fashion brand Porsche Design plans on changing that.
"I think there is a perception that Porsche Design is the carmaker's brand...but it's its own brand," says Kerstin Hamann, Porsche's Marketing and PR Manager.
During a casual breakfast to acquaint the media with the store, Hamann explained that the vehicle end of the company has merely a financial stake; other than that, Porsche Design is given the freedom to create in its Design Studio in Austria.
What the company has fashioned, despite Hamann's claims to the contrary, is a brand that doesn't stray very far from the car's reputation for sleek design and quality engineering.
Like Porsche's ability to exude sophistication while getting you from here to there, Hamann describes Porsche Design as having "functionality," and this is true: A scan around the store reveals a huge inventory of suave items that serve a purpose, like leather luggage, aviator sunglasses with detachable, changeable lenses, sportswear completed in collaboration with fitness behemoth Adidas and a special-edition Blackberry phone -- the Porsche Design P'9981. Of course, there are pieces that exist to exist, such as a trio of T-shirts bearing what would be Porsche's ideal customer: a world-traveled sophisticate wearing the store's signature sunglasses.
Porsche Design relies heavily on somber colors -- dark yellows and oranges, blues, dark greys and blacks make up a majority of hues -- to set a high-precision image. The front of the store caters to the well-gussied male, with a small section for women near the back. But, you won't find superfluous tulle blouses here; instead, think Italian leather, linen, silk and titanium, the latter spread liberally over the brand's pens, jogging shoes and watches. The watches will likely be a big seller in the store, as Porsche was the first to bravely debut a black titanium timepiece in 1980.
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Every accessory and article of clothing is as sharp as a square jaw. Squished between its European brethren -- Yves Saint Laurent to the left, Jimmy Choo to the right, Ralph Lauren directly opposite -- the store's name alone may seem like an odd break in the Galleria's couture chain of command (paisley pants, anyone?). However, what Porsche Design lacks in haute couture, it certainly makes up for in selections that cater to the business-class buyer. (By the way, being surrounded by so many fashion heavyweights doesn't intimidate store manager Mandy Xiang. "Our neighbors are great," she says.)
Porsche Design was founded in 1972 under the leadership of Professor Ferdinand Alexander Porsche. According to a press release by Porsche Design Group, the vision for the brand is "functional, timeless and purist design." Porsche's Galleria store opened this May, and is currently one of only three that offer what Hamann calls a "high-end luxury brand." (The other two stores are both in Miami.)
"It's not super elegant; it's more like sporty elegant," says Hamann.
Xiang agrees. "Our vision is to have a perfect marriage of function and great form."