How hardware manufacturers are taking inspiration from fashion

In the last few seasons, we’ve seen luxury fashion labels from Gucci to Hermès establishing and expanding their own kidswear collections. However, hardware is also becoming more and more refined. There is a new focus on design co-operations and special product strategies to ramp up the marketing machine and to win a new target group of prestige-oriented parents. But in the wider market, fashion is also increasingly setting the tone when it comes to high-quality optics, colour combinations, and refined details. Existing models are also receiving a new look.

Manufacturers nowadays want to cater to the increased prestige awareness of specific groups of parents. The high-price segment for pushchairs and baby equipment has been booming for a few years now. This shows just how much parents are demanding luxury and design to distinguish themselves from the mainstream, which is focused on simple functionality.

For prestige-oriented parents, dressing their children in classy and extravagant clothing is not enough. They also want to transport their children in style. Designer hardware should work as an eye-catching accessory. At prices that may stretch to over 1500 euro, we’re perhaps talking about niche products, but these are also effective promotional showpieces.

Fashion meets practicality. In September, manufacturer Bugaboo is launching an Atelier collection inspired by French fashion, while Cybex continues to work with Jeremy Scott. As early as 2013, Cybex and Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott worked together to release pushchairs, child car seats, and carrying slings. With angel wings on the sides, plus golden spokes and buttons to contrast with a deep black, the worldwide attention was massive.

Optical highlights in the urban jungle

“Our first collaborations with Lala Berlin and Jeremy Scott were very important for us to show that fashion and practical products go together very well. The response in the industry and with parents was such that we felt vindicated in our strategy,” says Petra Napier, Director of Fashion Design & Vice President Corporate Design, to Luna Journal.

“It is important to us to combine practicality and elegance. Children’s seats and, above all, pushchairs and furniture should be highly functional for everyday life, but also look stylish. We want to show with our products that design not only works but can also be fun,” adds Napier. This requirement also applies to the company’s house brands. With its Priam Fashion Collection, Cybex has produced pushchairs inspired by fashion designer Ralph Lauren and writer Ernest Hemingway. Camouflage prints contrasted with butterflies. The collection’s concept is optical highlights instead of camouflaged objects in the urban jungle.

The collaboration between fashion and hardware becomes even more apparent at Fendi and Inglesina. This collaboration has produced pushchairs with colourful prints of light bulbs, flashes, and apples, which were also seen in Karl Lagerfeld’s womenswear collection and in the Fendi Kids collection.

Using the trends in colours and materials

Versace worked directly to design a pushchair to go with its Young Versace children’s fashion line. This was launched in collaboration with the luxury specialist Peg-Pérego. Monochromatic decorations in black and white from the sunshade and leg cover were produced in glossy reptile optics, in accordance with the luxury label’s eccentric tone.

“First and foremost, it is about the wellbeing and the healthy ergonomic development of the child. In principle, however, the pushchair has to please the parents too,” comments designer Heike Hauck, whose label of the same name is located in the Oberfränkische Sonnefeld. Recently she took inspiration from the grey and black trend in fashion to produce an Elegance line of prams and pushchairs. But Hauck has also incorporated into her models the trends in denim or the simple tracksuit bottoms in the sports shop on the corner.

Fashion as a source of inspiration

With the traditional manufacturer Recaro, the “Excellent Parenthood” concept is used to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding clientele. The company has more than 100 years of experience in design, and is a founding member of the “Council for Design.” The Stuttgart child safety specialist’s designers take their inspiration from visiting trade fairs and fashion shows. “This is how they get to grips with textile trends, which are also reflected in our products,” says CEO Ralf Kindermann to Luna Journal.

“It is in the nature of things that mothers and fathers want only the best for their offspring,” stresses Kindermann. “That is why we have developed products that significantly contribute to ensuring that families can master their everyday life safely, without stress, and in a style-conscious way,” continues Kindermann.

Reworking established models

Dutch manufacturer Bugaboo, founded in 1999, has been working together with external designers since 2004. First the company worked with the Dutch designer Bas Kosters, then with greats like Marc Jacobs, Viktor&Rolf, Missoni, Pendleton, the Andy Warhol Foundation, and Diesel, as well as the French graphic designer Niark1.

“Our in-house design team takes inspiration from many areas, often from the fashion industry, especially when it comes to colours and textures,” says Madeleen Klaasen, Chief Marketing Officer of Bugaboo, to Luna Journal. “Our design process begins with research and experimentation. We play with all the possibilities, but are ultimately very selective when it comes to finding the best combination of fabrics, technical equipment, patterns, and sewing techniques.”

Inspired by French fashion, the company’s latest limited edition is intended to showcase the company’s artistic talent and in-house design expertise, adds Senior Product Developer Barber Ebbinge.

The “Cameleon3” and “Buffalo” models have a striking silhouette, with the covers in Stone Mélange, and black leather-look details. In addition, there is a footmuff as an accessory that goes with both models.

Madeleen Klaasen sums up this approach with a simple formula, which probably applies to all hardware manufacturers who are placing an ever-increasing emphasis on design and inspiration: “We think that if the product makes the parents happy, the baby can feel that too.”

Image: Cybex


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