Mercedes-Benz Fashion Engagement 2018: Future driven - Mercedes-Benz EQ brand and #WeWonder

Feb 9, 2018

Mercedes-Benz launches the next stage of its #mbcollective fashion story, entitled #WeWonder, a manifesto, which brings together seven of the world’s most innovative and inspiring visionaries to dream about the potentiality of the future. A future in which Mercedes-Benz is pursuing a holistic approach as part of the EQ brand family which includes the Mercedes-Benz Concept EQ, presented as an integral part of our everyday lives. This #mbcollective - featuring designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, artistic director Hans Ulrich Obrist, Hypebeast founder Kevin Ma, writer, curator and social activist Kimberly Drew, fashion model Slick Woods and musician Solange Knowles - marks the next step in Mercedes-Benz’ global fashion engagement.

These visionaries, who hail from all over the world and specialize in different disciplines, came together for a roundtable to create a vision of the future driven by hope, inspiration and imagination, in combination with the future of mobility. Each one will lead a conversation on a provocative and impactful topic, creating a dynamic manifesto that aims to inspire rather than instruct.

#WeWonder Manifesto

Just how this future will unravel, no one knows, but fashion has a knack of surfacing pertinent questions about how we interact with one another. So how will fashion respond to this future and the future of mobility overall? How can fashion provide a platform to discuss our potential? The #WeWonder manifesto will use myriad digital channels (Instagram @MercedesBenzFashion) to communicate with the many voices of the fashion industry to explore these questions.

The future of mobility will be Connected, Autonomous, Shares & Service and Electric (CASE) wherein travelling will turn us all into passengers afforded a new freedom: time. In fashion terms, what does this mean? Commuting to work could be redefined as the moment in the morning that we get dressed, turning the car of the future into a mobile wardrobe for example. Unencumbered by the process of driving, how we use this new time has unlimited potential.

The live and unscripted roundtable discussion, an exploration and deep dive into each visionary’s personal manifesto theme was moderated by fashion writer and publisher Caroline Issa and took place in London on 7 February 2018. It is testament to Mercedes-Benz’ innovative and digital approach to the future of mobility. It confirms the authenticity of the project by creating messaging with veracity and integrity and takes on the most pressing themes with total transparency.

The visionaries individual themes and content will be released throughout 2018 through a series of global events, appearances and digital activations. Kimberly Drew will unveil her theme and the accompanying content in March 2018, followed by a panel discussion which will take place at the me Convention area during SXSW in Austin, Texas on March 10/11th.

The Visionaries*

Our seven visionaries together generated a vision of the future driven by hope, inspiration and imagination. They are seeking neither utopia nor dystopia, but rather an image of what could be humanly possible.

Carol Lim and Humberto Leon

Carol Lim and Humberto Leon have been guiding contemporary fashion trends since founding Opening Ceremony in 2002, a New York retail destination that’s evolved into a global cultural hub for fashion, entertainment and creative innovators. In 2011, Lim and Leon were appointed creative directors at French fashion house KENZO, where they have successfully revitalized the brand for a youth-centric audience. Numerous accolades have followed the pair’s commercial and creative successes, and their interpretation of the future through #WeWonder is much anticipated.

Hans Ulrich Obrist

The Swiss curator and Artistic Director of London’s Serpentine Galleries has become one of the most recognized and respected curators in the world. He brings to the #WeWonder manifesto an unfaltering curiosity together with an enviable clarity of thought (as evidenced by his pithy and insightful Instagram notes) and a passion for conversation.

Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma’s story is one of taking a passion for sneakers and streetwear and turning it into a huge global platform: Hypebeast. Ma has captured and chronicled a Zeitgeist that is no longer a subculture but forms a considerable part of the luxury fashion narrative. A true entrepreneurial maverick, Ma’s ability to see opportunity where others can’t, will make him an invaluable contributor to the manifesto.

Kimberly Drew

It’s rare that a 27-year-old makes the art world sit up and take notice but, that is exactly what New Jersey-born Kimberly Drew has done. Now very much part of New York City’s art scene, Drew’s art curation and writing is focused on dismantling the old structures of the art world and giving voice to the complicated intersection between race, tech and art.

Slick Woods

In a fashion industry where newness and difference are the currencies of the day, Slick Woods is pure gold. The gap-toothed, shaven-headed, tattoo-covered model breaks all the tenets of conventional beauty and represents a new generation of boundary-breaking free-thinkers.  

Solange Knowles

Solange Knowles is an artistic force to be reckoned with. Recently a 2017 recipient of the Glamour Woman of the Year Award, Solange is more than a recording artist and known as an activist and visual art luminary. In 2013, she launched her own record label, Saint Records, and in 2016 her third studio album “A Seat At The Table” debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, Apple Music, and iTunes Overall Top Albums Charts. From performing her work for President Obama at the White House to her art performance at the Guggenheim Museum, Solange has invoked themes of identity, empowerment, grief and healing that have resonated with millions of voices that routinely feel silenced or overlooked. In addition, her performance art show at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, as well as her art installation at London’s Tate Modern museum have all led to a defining career of visual art and activism. 

*The visionaries were dressed by creative design talents including Gesine Forsterling, Jan Cerny, Nobi Talai and William Fan as part of the Mercedes-Benz International Designer Exchange Program (IDEP), which connects creative talents with a truly international audience and provides all the support necessary for these individuals to take the next big step in their careers. 

 “Following the great success of the Mercedes-Benz fashion story launch last year, we are focusing on expanding the #mbcollective and will now shift the focus to digital content creation for our Global Fashion Engagement in 2018. Through the #WeWonder manifesto and together with our exceptional visionaries, we invite our audiences to explore and join the conversation about the future. The visionaries’ diverse backgrounds, professions and experiences will no doubt inspire exciting discussions, highlighting their chosen themes in an authentic, inclusive and engaging way, which  is future driven. Mercedes-Benz will continue to support the designers of our International Designer Exchange Program (IDEP), whose clothes will be worn by the visionaries” says Michael Bock, Director Sport and Lifestyle Marketing at Mercedes-Benz.

Solange Knowles: “The power of conversation is invaluable, and I’ � � m extremely excited to explore the future of technology alongside a partner who has so consistently invested in the arts in such an innovative way. I believe in this group of people, and their contributions to shifting the culture of art, fashion and expression.”

Kevin Ma: “Mercedes-Benz has a lot of heritage but at the same time are very open and looking to the future not only in mobility but in humanity which is super cool.”

Hans Ulrich Obrist: “If we want to address the big questions of the future, of the 21st century, we need to think beyond the fear of pooling knowledge and bring all the disciplines together. This is why the project is so interesting.”

Carol Lim and Humberto Leon: “It’s exciting to work on this project with Mercedes Benz because like us at Opening Ceremony, they have supported emerging talent and championed new creativity. The brand stands for innovation, class, quality and shows a strong push towards future thinking.”

Slick Woods: “I am proud to be part of the Mercedes-Benz family. And even more ecstatic that they understand that the advancement of technology not only affects everyone but cannot progress without collaborations between different walks of life including age, race, religion and social status. Mercedes-Benz has remained a luxurious brand without stripping others of their culture, heritage or ideas. Which is a difficult task, I know firsthand.” 

Kimberly Drew: “I am delighted to join this incredible group of thought leaders. Each participant represents so much of what I hope the future will contain.”

#WeWonder Electric Stars: Mercedes-Benz Concept EQ, smart vision EQ fortwo and Mercedes-Benz Plug-In-Hybrid Models

The Mercedes-Benz Concept EQ is about forward-thinking design and a bold future vision – qualities shared by fashion. Just as clothing provides a vehicle for self-expression, and trends come to epitomise the cultural nuances of the time, so too will Mercedes-Benz’ Concept EQ come to define mobility in the fast-evolving digital age. The Concept EQ, with its sporty SUV coupé appearance, has its own distinctive “electro-aesthetic” styling link to Mercedes-Benz’ brand values intelligence and emotion. The Mercedes-Benz Plug-In-Hybrid vehicles are an important bridge technology on the way to electric mobility. Mercedes-Benz currently offers Plug-In-Hybrid models, featuring the technology badge EQ Power, ranging from the C-Class to SUV models. Embodied by the ground-breaking smart vision EQ fortwo, which provides a new vision of urban mobility that is individualized, flexible and a modern way of efficient local public transport. Mercedes-Benz cars welcome a future informed by the potential of sharing, sustainability and connected mobility: a future when sharing cars allows us to reduce waste and autonomous driving gives us the time for creativity.

#mbcollective Fashion Story 2017

The predecessor to the #WeWonder Manifesto was the #mbcollective 2017 Fashion Story. The project followed the three chapters of Mercedes-Benz’ Fashion Story in 2017, which heralded the first members of the burgeoning #mbcollective and saw the Generation Now talents of M.I.A., Susan Sarandon and Amber Valetta mentoring the Generation Next of Tommy Genesis, Bryn Mooser and Auden McCaw respectively.

In line with Mercedes-Benz’ commitment to supporting and nurturing emerging design talent, the #mbcollective will also continue to offer a platform for upcoming talent in the fashion industry through the International Designer Exchange Program (IDEP). Last year, at the International Fashion Showcase held at Somerset House, London, Mercedes-Benz presented some truly gifted collections, from Steven Tai’s bookworm-inspired organza creations to the fantasy silhouettes of David Ferreira.

me Convention at SXSW

Mercedes-Benz and South by Southwest® (SXSW®) continue their partnership in 2018. At the SXSW Conference & Festivals in Austin, Texas from March 9-18, the me Convention will be represented by a unique talk and event format as part of the Mercedes-Benz and smart sponsorship of SXSW in 2018. The me Convention is presented under the claim #createthenew. It provides an open and inspiring platform for creative people from different industries and has a clear focus on dialogue, interaction, networking and entertainment. The contents of the me Convention cover important topics for shaping the future. Together with SXSW, Mercedes-Benz has identified five relevant topics derived from its CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Service, Electric) future strategy: New Creation, New Urbanism, New Leadership, New Realities and New Velocity.

Mercedes-Benz International Designer Exchange Program (IDEP)

As part of its global fashion commitment, for over seven years, Mercedes-Benz continues to support young and talented fashion designers through the Mercedes-Benz International Designer Exchange Program. The program offers emerging designers a unique opportunity to present their collections outside of their local markets to an international audience. Launched in 2009, the Mercedes-Benz International Designer Exchange Program is currently active across all of the Mercedes-Benz supported fashion platforms including London, Beijing, Berlin, Budapest, Prague and Istanbul. The Mercedes-Benz International Designer Exchange Program is often supported by an award program initiated by Mercedes-Benz and underpinned by a panel of experts. Mercedes-Benz is committed to nurturing and mentoring emerging design talent, and the International Designer Exchange Program reinforces the brand’s commitment to this.  

23 years of dedication to fashion by Mercedes-Benz

The last 23 years have seen Mercedes-Benz establish itself globally as a key partner and title sponsor at selected fashion weeks and events. The brand currently participates across more than 60 international fashion platforms, including Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks or activity in cities including Beijing, Berlin, Istanbul and Milan, as well as the acclaimed International Festival of Fashion and Photography in Hyères. Mercedes-Benz continues to support selected fashion events around the world, and over the course of two decades has forged in particular an admirable reputation for the promotion of emerging design talent. 

Social Media:

Follow Mercedes-Benz Fashion and our Visionaries on social media: Instagram:@MercedesBenzFashion, @HansUlrichObrist, @KevinMa, @OpeningCeremony, @Saintrecords, @Slickwoods, Hashtag: #WeWonder #MercedesBenzFashion

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Engagement 2018: Future driven - Mercedes-Benz EQ brand and #WeWonder
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Engagement 2018: Future driven - Mercedes-Benz EQ brand and #WeWonder