Mazda is apparently pondering whether to launch a line of ‘designer’ items, potentially including apparel and furniture, as part of a wider strategy to push its brand upmarket.
The audacious proposal, laid out by global design chief Ikuo Maeda and supported by Mazda global CEO Masamichi Kogai, would theoretically see the small Japanese marque follow in the tyre marks of upscale brands Porsche and Ferrari.
The proposed Mazda Design line would likely kick off with the slinky Kodo armchair it showed off at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan last year. From there, the brand could theoretically branch out into making anything from watches to glasses and apparel.
Nothing has been firmly decided, Maeda told US site Automotive News, but the design chief said both he and his boss Kogai were keen on the idea. “He (Kogai) thinks the same thing,” Maeda said. “He likes the idea.”
The fact that Mazda posted a record global profit of $1.9b last year would give it at least some potential ammunition to fund the dream.
The move would follow Porsche AG, which runs the Porsche Design Group that makes everything from $300 bags, $150 shorts, $120 polo shirts, $1400 leather jackets and $1000 watches. Ferrari likewise runs an extremely lucrative designer line.
The theory, it seems, is that launching a line of designer goods like some premium European brands would help change perceptions about the brand. Mazda is intent on moving its product upmarket into a pseudo-luxury position.
While Mazda is hugely successful in Australia as the number one full-line importer, it is still a relative minnow in much of Europe, Asia and the US. Having upscale product makes this model far more lucrative.
The question is, does Mazda have the cache to pull off a range of designer goods? Nothing is confirmed, but if demand is there, it may get the ball rolling.