Chrysler’s Athleisure Line is a Lesson in How Merchandise Changes Perception

In the age of social media influencers, every business must also be a lifestyle brand. Whatever your primary function as a business, be it restoration or car manufacturing, you need to create something that people can easily wear or use to showcase your logo. If these people are young, it is even better.

Chrysler joins the growing list of automakers expanding their branded merchandise capabilities in hopes of creating a bespoke brand aesthetic for the 21st century.

You may recall that Ford just hired Henry Ford’s true descendant to lead its branded product efforts, Harley Davidson just started working with hot brands like Yeezy, and Tesla is at the cutting edge of promotional marketing for years now.

Chrysler is not reinventing the wheel with its collection of goods, mainly offering sports leisure products. But, for a company whose brand identity is luxury vehicles, having luxury apparel and lifestyle products makes sense (and is more affordable than a car).

The first version, the Athleisure Merchandise collection, is made up of eight pieces: hoodies, long-sleeved t-shirts, leggings, a zipped jacket and a water bottle. All of these are basically your regular lifestyle brand starter pack, and all of the apparel is co-branded with Ogio. The athleisure bubble has yet to burst, and the abundance of hybrid work schedules or full work-from-home hours has only increased the demand for comfortable yet functional clothing.

Design elements are all minimal, eschewing the usual silver Chrysler logo in favor of a “Chrysler” wordmark and small Ogio logo.

Credit: Chrysler

What Chrysler is hoping to do here is appeal to a younger crowd who might have thought their cars belonged to an older generation.

“The Chrysler brand has always been synonymous with ingenious style and functionality with a focus on providing solutions to make things easier for the busy lifestyles of our customers,” said Chris Feuell, CEO of the Chrysler brand, in a press release. “This special collaboration truly embodies what the brand stands for, with the ultimate goal of creating modern, high-quality products that allow consumers to be comfortable on the go, with practical sophistication.”

Chrysler is using clothing, rather than changing its entire car design and production plan, to appeal to a group of buyers it feels it probably isn’t reaching. It’s much cheaper to make clothes than to roll the dice on new car ideas.

It shows the power of well-thought-out merchandise and how it can change customers’ perception of a brand without that brand having to completely reinvent itself. It also goes to show that almost every brand under the sun needs to start investing in some sort of branded product now, lest they get left behind.

Clearly, Chrysler competitors like Ford and even Harley Davidson have been thinking about how they can reach new buying demographics, or at least participate in conversations they weren’t previously included in. The answer is not always to completely change the business. Sometimes it’s just about making really great apparel and lifestyle products.