Rina Sawayama, the Japanese British musician, actor, and model held court at Casa Gilardi, a UNESCO World Heritage site and an architectural masterpiece in Mexico City built by famed architect Luis Barragan. Along with her collaborators of avant-garde industry pioneers in make up and hair sculpturing, she hosted her conceptual activation of the latest “Mercedes Benz’s How To” concept for 2019.
As one of Mercedes Benz’s chosen protagonist, Sawayama’s activation plays into the narrative of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Story concept, an evolution of how Mercedes Benz is producing branded content, creating more interactive stories with immersive and inclusive story-telling initiatives.
“ The Fashion Story provides numerous different opportunities throughout the year to champion emerging fashion creative, and bring people from different creative spheres together to generate pioneering ideas,” explained Bettina Fetzer, Head of Mercedes Benz Marketing.
In 2020, Mercedes Benz will celebrate its 25th anniversary of their fashion engagement initiatives, signaling a quarter century of international event sponsorships, new talent engagements, and bringing the full force of their global brand name into emerging fashion markets.
Mercedes Benz’s interest in the fashion category, known for constant evolutions, innovation, and excellence in presentation, speaks to the core ethos of the luxury auto brand. Its engagement follows three strategic pillars of activations: global fashion weeks sponsorship, highlighting emerging creative talent, and cultivating conversations about pushing boundaries and innovations through fashion stories.
In 24 years of participation, Mercedes Benz has become an influential voice within the fashion industry having sponsored and activated fashion weeks in such cities as Sydney, Mexico City, London, Madrid, Tbilisi, and Berlin. Currently, they are active in 80 fashion events in over 40 countries.
Sponsoring fashion weeks in emerging fashion markets highlights the creativity and local talent and offers international exposure to designers and artists. While each launch offers a global outreach, engagements in the individual markets are activated on the local level as an opportunity for local organizations to engage local and international press, editors and designers. The past two months have seen fashion week activations in Mexico City and Tbilisi featuring sponsored designers.
Evolving from the fashion week engagements, Mercedes Benz began the sponsorship of individual designers, giving them a platform and exposure beyond their home markets and a launching pad into new markets. Operating under the new moniker “Mercedes Benz Fashion Talents”, the rising star designers receive the ability to present their collection on a global stage as Mercedes Benz assumes the costs for the designs, production, and implementation of their collections with additional access to industry experts in marketing and public relations as part of an immersive 360 mentorship program.
To date, Mercedes Benz has sponsored over 90 aspiring designers in over 30 global platforms including Prague, Istanbul, Berlin, Mexico City, and Milan.
For over a decade, Mercedes Benz had partnered with some of fashion’s most preeminent photographers to tell a more “traditional” story of engagement with a female protagonist and the latest vehicle. In 2017, they decided to revolutionize the concept into engaging multiple protagonists from all creative disciplines, and apply the annual theme that would reflect one of their core beliefs.
Previous campaigns have seen Susan Sarandon and Amber Valetta introduce a next generation of talent, and in 2018 saw designers of Opening Ceremony, a New York based fashion brand, ad Solange Knowles, sister of Beyonce, develop a vision of the future, as shared by their EQ vehicles, Mercedes Benz’s electric car.
This year latest iteration of the “Mercedes Benz Fashion Story” selected four protagonists to employ the latest them of “ How To,” a concept inspired by the ambition of constant self betterment and to try new things, a disruption of oneself, which reflects Mercedes Benz’s passion for constant innovation and pushing beyond the best products and services for their customers.
“ We recognize that it is not always easy to step outside of your comfort zone and learn a new skill, so we built a collective that would inspire and motivate learning,” says Fetzer.
Selected by jury panel and recommendations from industry experts, the four creative from fashion, film, music, and fashion were engaged to be this years’ protagonists to partner with artists in different creative spheres to collaborate and push their limits of creativity. One of the protagonists, Lena Waithe, Emmy award winning writer, director, and actor customized garments using upcyled material as her engagement project in London, while singer Rina Sawayama, created live mannequins to display the artistry of make up, facial collages, and hair sculptures, which she hopes will inspire body positivity and self expression.
“For me, it’s about the creative process and its collaboration. It’s not about me. There’s a quote that says when people are watching a performance on stage, they’re not there to see the performer, but rather to see themselves in performer. I have to respect that,” says Sawayama of her experience as a protagonist.
The fashion stories also motivate to grow their digital community into providing an aggregated hub, @mercedesbenzfashion, for global followers to engage in the journey.
Moving forward to next year celebrating their 25th anniversary, Fetzer identifies social and environmental stability as serious issues and will be placing that conversation at the forefront.
“As a brand, we are passionate about aspirational and sustainable innovation; be it in design or on a social level. It’s important that Mercedes Benz is aligned with partners that embody these values and will encourage collaboration, creativity, and innovation on a global scale,” says Fetzer.