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Germany’s best high-tech high-fashion brands


From headphones to sports shoes, Germany’s forward-looking brands are giving cutting-edge products a luxurious makeover, with impressive results

Sally McIlhone ,

In today’s forward-thinking fashion climate, mixing and matching luxury items with technology or sportswear is de rigueur. Stylish celebrities such as Pharrell Williams, Mark Ronson and Kanye West regularly combine trainers with a high-end suit on the red carpet and no one bats an eyelid. The humble trainer has gone from being the preserve of gym fanatics to a desirable item in its own right – and it’s all down to the way designer brands are creating high-end performance wear and gadgetry to appeal to an audience of directional dressers.

Best Beats
Over the summer, Munich-based leather-goods brand MCM collaborated with Dr Dre, powerhouse of the headphones industry, on a capsule collection known as Beats x MCM. Highlights include a pair of Beats Studio wireless headphones with gold accents and MCM’s unmistakable Cognac Visetos monogrammed leather, as well as a Pill speaker that sits inside the mouth of a miniature branded Dude character sporting a tiny MCM backpack.

Combining MCM’s travel heritage with Beats by Dr Dre’s impeccable sound quality, these are a perfect example of how luxury and technology can be combined to great effect. MCM’s chief branding officer Na-Mi Oh told Forbes, ‘We wanted to really target … the young, urban generation, which makes [us] very different from other classical luxury brands.’ The collection is limited, making it even more covetable, and may even have sold out by the time autumn rolls around.

Bionic bags
Fear not, there are other items in MCM’s autumn/winter 2015/16 collection to satisfy your high-end, high-tech cravings. The graphic Bionic backpacks in black, gold and silver are a perfect marriage of street-style aesthetics and luxury craftsmanship. For a more tongue-in-cheek interpretation of high-end meets high-tech, MCM’s Robot bags are a must-buy. The fun-sized handbags with gold hardware and a chain strap are available in a wide array of colours – the purple is a highlight.

Watch and learn
Porsche Design is another German name that actively combines technical performance with high-end craftsmanship. The brand recently launched its first range of Swiss watches, the stunning Chronotimer Series 1. The customisable pieces all feature a titanium case, with a choice of titanium, black or 18-carat rose gold bezels; carbon, deep blue or black dials; and various strap materials including leather and rubber, so every wearer can create their own distinctive timepiece.

The Chronotimer Series 1 draws on the design principles of the Chronograph I created by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche in 1972 and the groundbreaking Titanium Chronograph from 1980. These include using the best materials available, a simple, functional design and ease of readability. The Chronotimer Series 1 is also incredibly lightweight, an additional plus for those who travel frequently and don’t want to be weighed down by their accessories.

Perfect penmanship
If writing implements are more your accessory of choice, Porsche Design has also recently launched a solid-gold fountain pen. The P’3135 Solid Gold Limited Edition is shaped from a single piece of 14-carat gold, with 18-carat gold nib, and has a cleverly hidden mechanism to allow the pen to be refilled with ink. With only 11 available in the world, if you truly want to make a statement about your love of the fusion of luxury goods with technical innovation, this is the product to invest in.

Cool kicks
For a slightly more affordable blend of luxury and high-tech performance, look no further than the Puma x McQ collection. The German sportswear giant initially partnered with the Alexander McQueen diffusion line for autumn/winter 2014/15 and is already planning to continue the partnership into 2016. The highlight of the current collection is the Puma x McQ Tech Runner Mid in black with multicoloured metallic panels that evoke the rainbow sheen found in petrol and laces with red and green paint spatter-style spots.

As Yassine Saidi, global head of footwear at Puma, told Schön magazine, ‘It’s the most structural one. It’s a very challenging shoe to do – because of the bonding, because of the multi-layers. I like the shape – I like mid-shoes, even if the market is very low tops at the moment. The possibilities this shoe offers in terms of materials and colour mixes and customisation is endless. That’s why I like the shoe.’

By combining the design eye of a luxury brand with the technical know-how of a sports brand, Puma x McQ has been able to create trainers with unique features which can be personalised depending on the wearer’s preferred colour scheme – the new-school equivalent of a monogrammed shirt.

From sleek gold fountain pens and titanium watches to designer-collaboration headphones and trainers, the fusion of high-end and high-tech is clearly here to stay.

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