Haute Carture | Ferrari Tailor Made

NJAL spent a day with Ferrari in Maranello, discussing the future of luxury, customisation, sustainability and creating our very own Black Sheep Ferrari FF.

by Eleanor Dunne and Stefan Siegel
At NJAL, our designers sell unique, one-of-a-kind products, aware that for today’s consumer the true meaning of luxury is the bespoke item. Individuality is the future of fashion and by now, many established brands are also providing a personalised option: made-to-order Burberry Trenches, Hermès scarves and Louis Vuitton handbags are just some examples. Recently, the manufacturers of arguably the ultimate status symbol – the Ferrari – have stepped up their already extensive customisation services a notch further with their Tailor-Made programme. In order to find out about Ferrari’s take on authentic luxury and individuality, and their use of textiles as well as sustainable materials, NJAL have spent a day in Maranello working with their design team. And since it is useful for us in the fashion sphere to learn how those in other industries are using bespoke services to cater to their high-end customers, NJAL spoke with Tommaso Cai, Head of Colour and Trim at Ferrari, about the exclusive process, the materials involved and the potential of working with emerging talents in the future.

The Ferrari customer has been able to choose the colours and fabrics to build their dream automobile since the late 90s, but the newly launched Tailor-Made concept program allows future owners to choose from an even wider selection of options for every little detail of their automobile, from the exterior livery, to the piping, to the trim. “We only produce 7,000 cars a year, hence why it will always be an exclusive vehicle,” says Tommaso Cai, Head of Colour and Trim at Ferrari. “Although we already have an enormous range of personalisation, we thought the Tailor-Made process was necessary for a customer who has a specific vision in terms of individuality and customisation.”

The program takes its cue from the 1950s and 60s when it was standard practice for skilled craftsmen to mould every aspect of the car to the owner’s tastes, similar to how a Savile Row tailor was enlisted for a bespoke suit. Clients chose from an extensive range of materials, colours and finishes and the result was a one-of-a-kind vehicle. “In the earlier days of Ferrari's heritage, the coachbuilder would design the car around the owners requirements,” Tommaso explains. “Today’s market in the automotive industries has become a lot more standardised. We wanted to shift the focus back on pure personalisation.”

We at NJAL had the chance to experience the full customisation journey – minus taking the latest Ferrari FF back home. The process commences with a trip to the Ferrari Factory in Maranello, just outside of Modena, Italy. A client is then paired with a Personal Designer and brought to the Styling Centre, which has the look and feel of an actual Haute Couture studio. Hundreds of different materials, from natural woods and leathers, to textiles and high-tech carbon-fibre components are available for choice.

Each of the many trays and closets opens up a new world. In order not to lose the focus, Ferrari’s design team assist the customer throughout the process. In order to simplify the decision making stages, three distinct modes of personalisation are proposed to the client – Scuderia, which takes it’s inspiration from Ferrari’s sporting history; Classica, influenced by Maranello’s classic GTs; or Inedita, a more experimental and innovative choice for the stylistically brave.

“It is a very complicated process,” Tommaso says. “We have to help the customer decide on hundreds of different shades of each colour, material and finishing options, and ensure the exterior and interior go well together. Every detail has to be considered, like the piping, stitching, embossing, logos, accessories, and a lot more. On top of all of that, there is a wide range of materials to choose from.”

Two years of research have gone into over two hundred options in terms of materials for the interiors of a Tailor-Made Ferrari. Many are not traditionally seen in automotive application and although Ferrari are always on the lookout for the most luxurious, innovative and exclusive textiles, the priority must be the safety. “In theory you could put any material into a car, however when dealing with an automotive product, it has to be homologated.

Any material you find on the market wouldn't necessarily be suitable,” says Tommaso. “They have to be flameproof, for example. We also need to know where exactly in the car the chosen material can be applied; the load and utilisation are different on the dashboard compared to the door panels. Performance properties, like weight and grip are important too.”

When browsing through Ferrari’s studio we were impressed by the wide range of material available for choice: Alcantara, denim, tech-fabrics, cashmere, velvet, leather, wool, carbon-fibre, wood, even a bullet-proof option. And if you have a certain textile in mind that isn’t available, never fear – the design team will source it for you and provide all necessary testing.

And while we at NJAL preach that the future in luxury will be characterised by integrity, transparency and the impact on the environment, it was interesting to speak to Ferrari about their approach to researching and sourcing eco-friendly supplies and materials. “Ferrari will only use sustainable materials, while also ensuring they comply with the respective European Type Approval legislation,” Tommaso says. “We make use of a wide range of natural materials, such as wood from managed forests and natural rubber. Also, we solely use water-based paints; we were one of the first car companies to do so. Durability and environmental friendliness are our core concerns.”

The options and possibilities of the Tailor-Made concept are sheer endless and Ferrari’s team was keen to show us a few of the most remarkable results. “We recently made one car where the interior resembled the future owner’s sailing boat, featuring all sorts of woods,” Tommaso recalls. “The latest car I have worked on was quite unusual too. It was based on a Japanese theme, inspired by the Bushido Samurai sword. It sounds a bit strange, but it was very elegant, featuring exclusive Japanese textiles, a silver striped livery and special gleaming features on the seats that we achieved by using a white tech-fabric.”

Due to the small amount of material used on a Ferrari interior, the Tailor-Made process certainly presents an opportunity for small textile manufacturers to work with a global brand. In addition, with the programme’s emphasis on substance, style, innovation and cutting edge fabrics, it would seem a fashion designer with a large amount of textile knowledge would be the perfect collaborator for the Ferrari design team.

Could such an alliance be in the future for the Tailor-Made process? “It is possible,” Tommaso says. “We are certainly inspired by the world of fashion – we don’t directly follow it but we are inspired by certain trends, such as the choices in colours and use of materials. Working with an emerging fashion designer could potentially be very interesting.”