Proenza Schouler x Mercedes Benz
Laura Dern in Proenza Schouler x Mercedes Benz collaboration campaign

Pack your bags, Proenza Schouler and Mercedes-Benz are taking us on a road trip for their latest collaboration, The Power of Two. The collaboration comes at a perfect time as we all prepare to journey back to our suburban hometowns (or tropical vacay spots) for the holiday season. Proenza Schouler designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez reinterpret the iconic Mercedes-Benz logo through a selection of luxury fashion pieces inspired by the great American road trip.

The collection, made from responsible fabrics, includes classic women’s ready-to-wear pieces and accessories as well as select unisex styles in contrasting dark and bright colorways. The New York-based label enlisted friends of the brand, actress Laura Dern, and son Ellery Harper to bring their vision to life. “Laura Dern is someone we admire and who cares deeply about sustainability,” mentioned the duo. “With the road trip concept, a mother and son traveling together tied in the narrative perfectly. Laura and Ellery both also speak to a different audience, and we really wanted that idea that the pieces were cross-generational and can be worn by anyone.”

Proenza Schouler x Mercedes Benz
Laura Dern and Ellery Harper in Proenza Schouler x Mercedes-Benz collaboration campaign

Although Proenza Schouler’s first time collaborating with a non-fashion brand, Mercedes-Benz isn’t new to the world of fashion. The German luxury automotive company has worked with designers Heron Preston and Virgil Abloh, and this collaboration furthers their journey into fashion. ” We feel very aligned with Mercedes-Benz and what the brand represents; it’s about luxury, performance, quality, craftsmanship, and doing what you do at the highest level,” mentioned Jack and Lazaro. 

Ahead, GRAZIA chats with the designer duo on their design process, working with an automotive company, exploring sustainability, and the future of Proenza Schouler. 

GRAZIA: How did the collaboration come about?

Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez: We got a call from Mercedes-Benz that they were working on their newest luxury electric vehicle and wanted to partner with a designer for a collaboration that spoke to their audience and a fashion demographic. They approached us to see if we would be interested and immediately we were like totally. For us, Mercedes-Benz is so aligned with what we do and also holds a sustainability angle with a very upscale, beautiful, and luxury product. It was super organic and honestly pretty easy.

G: How did the creative process differ working with a car brand rather than another fashion brand?

JM and LH: I would say it was pretty different since they make a product in a totally different wheelhouse than what we do. It was more so getting aligned on the overall concept of what the collaboration would look like, but as far as the process, they gave us pretty much freewill. We put together a big pitch to present to the team, and it was pretty seamless from there on out. The trickiest part for us was figuring out the sustainable angle. We’re just starting to venture into that territory, and it’s been a rewarding challenge to figure out how to make a luxury product that stands the test of time and has a sustainable element to them from a development standpoint.

G: What was the most exciting part of basically taking on the creative and development end of the project? 

JM and LH: We usually relied on our collaborators to make and produce the actual items in past collaborations; however, with Mercedes-Benz not being a fashion brand, we developed and produced all the pieces ourselves. It was interesting because we had to understand the production process and learn how to produce in a sustainable manner. Lots of research and exploratory work! We’ve been exploring concepts for a while now. We did a core collection that’s all recycled materials, so there is precedent for it in our collections. 

G: What sustainable elements does the collection embody?

JM and LH: Every product in the range has a different sustainability element to it. Like the cashmere sweaters and blanket we did is recycled cashmere yarn respun into a new thread. The keychain and leathers from our Ps11 bag are upcycled from backstock leather we found instead of ordering and creating new material. It honestly was interesting and cool to pull from what we already had and reapply it to something new. It’s definitely got us thinking, and we plan on applying these techniques to what we do moving forward with how we produce our own collections outside of the Mercedes-Benz capsule. 

G: At Vogue‘s Forces of Fashion conference in 2019, you both spoke on pivoting the brand towards the future. What has that looked like for Proenza Schouler so far? Has that idea changed at all, given the pandemic?

JM and LH: Wow, yeah, who would have known a global pandemic was on the horizon, right? A lot has obviously changed, but a lot hasn’t changed. Over the pandemic, we scaled back, which in a lot of ways was really nice to have the chance to regroup and not have to be in the hamster wheel of having a show every season. It allowed us to really think about our messaging to our customers and community. This Mercedes-Benz collaboration is just that — an alternative project that brings an exciting creative partnership allowing something new to the narrative. Scaling down has allowed us to create space for a project like this, and it’s incredible to have the opportunity to do so and be more open and invite other people into the conversation. It’s a new chapter.