Limited-edition collaborations have incredible potential, but most luxury brands have yet to tap into them.
Brands must rigorously focus on brand equity creation to build excitement, inspiration, and desire.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom demonstrates what is possible when two of the world’s great houses work closely together with an inspirational client.
Rarely do two brands that have been highly influential in their respective categories unite to create something truly outstanding. What is even more interesting is when both brands are disruptors that appeal to young and extremely affluent audiences while keeping true to their core values and brand positionings. Those brands are Rolls-Royce and Hermès.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars are, for many, the pinnacle of luxury. During a recent driving experience in a Rolls-Royce Phantom, I remember how impressed I was by the sheer presence of the car and its interior, which created a transformative experience. In its “standard” version, it already outperforms practically any other refined experience. And with the introduction of its Black Badge lineup and the launch of its Cullinan SUV, the average age of its buyers went down drastically, making Rolls-Royce, surprisingly to many, a luxury car brand with high appeal to young customers.
Hermès, the French luxury house known for its signature leathers, just posted a record Q1 with 30-percent growth over 2019. Like Rolls-Royce, Hermès manages to successfully attract young audiences via celebrities, movie stars, and digital influencers that are eager to get their hands on a limited-edition Birkin bag (now considered the most iconic handbag of all time by many). Birkins regularly achieve price-points exceeding a hundred thousand US dollars and have been outperforming most other investments over the past two decades.
When both brands come together to create a unique piece, it will potentially influence the luxury world. The outcome was the Rolls-Royce Phantom Oribe: a one-off creation for the Japanese billionaire entrepreneur, art collector, and supercar enthusiast Yusaku Maezawa. The idea was to create a ‘land jet’ that provides a driving experience similar to private air travel.
The car’s two-tone exterior matches the characteristic green and cream glazes of antique Japanese Oribe ware from the owner’s collection. The upper part is finished in Oribe Green — a color created exclusively for the client. The owner’s private jet will come in the same color as the car, making the creation even more unique. The interior has been finished in Hermès Enea Green leather.
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, the CEO of Rolls-Royce, said that “this majestic and tasteful Rolls-Royce Phantom demonstrates what is possible when talented people from two of the world’s great houses work closely together alongside a far-sighted, inspirational client like Maezawa-san. It is a meeting of minds, expertise, visions, and skill that represents the very best of our respective craftspeople and capabilities.”
Yusaku Maezawa, born in 1975, is no newcomer to making headlines. The founder of Zozotown, an online fashion marketplace for Japanese and Western fashion brands, Maezawa has an estimated net worth of more than $3 billion, according to Forbes. In 2018 he revealed that he would be the first private passenger Space X would take around the moon. Later, he started a campaign to find a woman to accompany him on the trip (and in life).
Now, he owns one of the most exclusive cars in the world and makes global headlines that further raise his and his brand’s profiles. Having analyzed what drives the value of the most luxurious brands and products, I can confirm that creating a unique story is critical. Combining the craftsmanship of Rolls-Royce and Hermès with the personality of Maezawa and his special art collection creates a truly unique story, almost guaranteeing a significant value increase of the Oribe over time and further fueling the equities of both brands.
In terms of extreme value creation, the car is a masterpiece from which other brands can learn. Limited editions have incredible potential, but most brands have yet to tap into them. Also, brands should rigorously focus on brand equity creation, which builds excitement, inspiration, and desire. And lastly, to appeal to younger audiences, brands should stay true to their values. The Rolls-Royce Oribe is the perfect example of these tenets — a true masterpiece.