Automakers have gone from wanting fashion cred to needing more street cred.
Car brands have collaborated with fashion designers for almost 50 years, stretching as far back as the late Seventies when Ford Motor Co. recruited the likes of Bill Blass, Hubert de Givenchy and Emilio Pucci — not to mention Cartier — to create yearly cosmetic updates for its Lincoln Continental Mark series. Cadillac, meanwhile, snuggled up to Gucci, while Lamborghini turned to Versace, Maserati to Ermenegildo Zegna and Bugatti to Hermès.
Then there was the whole outdoors sector where car manufacturers teamed with brands whose DNA was centered around nature: remember the Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer, the Subaru Outback L.L. Bean and the Jeep Grand Cherokee Orvis?
But carmakers now face a crunch: Baby Boomers — those who could spend the high five and into the six figures for a luxury car — are, well, aging and not driving as much while several recent studies show that Millennials, their children, are in some cases buying fewer new cars — or cheaper ones. Gone, seemingly, are the days when twentysomethings yearned to own a “cool” car once they got their first job.
So while super high-end sports car manufacturers like Maserati, Lamborghini and Ferrari are continuing to link with luxury brands such as Zegna, Yohji Yamamoto and Giorgio Armani, other automakers, even expensive ones, are turning to a different designer set: the streetwear crowd. Mercedes-Benz this past summer linked with Virgil Abloh, the founder of Off-White and the creative director of Louis Vuitton men’s wear, to unveil a model concept replica car — the Project Geländewagen — that he created for Mercedes-Benz. The reimagined G-Class luxury SUV as a plaster-covered art piece brought $160,000 at auction in October.
Meanwhile, Mercedes’ German rival BMW last month partnered with Ronnie Fieg, founder of Kith, to completely rebuild his personal 1989 E30 M3 car, and to produce an expansive Kith for BMW collection of apparel, accessories and gifts. That partnership also resulted in the creation of a BMW M4 Competition x Kith vehicle, a 2021 model that is limited to 150 units worldwide and will retail for between $109,000 and $120,000.
The hope is that the collaborations will spur streetwear devotees to look at these car brands in a new light — or, if they aren’t old enough to even drive, encourage their parents to buy a Mercedes-Benz or BMW. And if a Millennial or Gen Zer can’t afford a BMW or Ferrari, those car companies hope that perhaps they at least will buy a high-end hoodie or other logo-emblazoned piece of apparel to boost the brand’s image.
After all, while these tieups with fashion are, in part, in the hope of selling a few more cars, their real purpose is building brand image and marketing. After all, designing an entirely new model of a car can cost up to $1 billion and automakers spend billions on advertising a year — Ford Motor Co. alone spent $2.28 billion on advertising in 2019, according to Statista. Given that, what’s a few tens of thousands on a designer tieup or the cost of having a fashion designer come up with a new color of leather and trim for the interior?
As Mark Wakefield, global co-leader of the automotive and industrial practice at AlixPartners LLP, put it, “changing colors and interiors is cheap stuff to do. So even if it just results in a few articles being written and doesn’t sell a lot of cars, it’s worth it.”
Wakefield said car manufacturers working with fashion designers has been popular for decades because it “brings something fresh to a product” and “creates an allegiance” that separates one brand from its competitors as it works to “tip people into becoming buyers.”
He said a car designer can use denim in the interior of any vehicle, but if it were to work with a well-known brand instead, “you get more of a pop, particularly if it’s later in a vehicle’s life cycle.”
He pointed to the Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer as an example. That was one of the first co-branded vehicles, Wakefield said, and was so popular that purchasers “almost forgot that it was co-branded. They saw the gold and green trim and it was immediately recognizable.” Ditto for Cartier’s partnership with Lincoln Town Car that started in 1981. “People didn’t know it was a brand, they just thought it was the high-end Lincoln,” he said. “It almost took on a life of its own.”
Dave Rivers, SUV marketing manager for Ford, said associating with fashion brands has historically been very successful for the company. In addition to the Explorer Eddie Bauer, the brand has a longstanding deal with the King Ranch in Texas for its F-150 pickup, which uses saddle leathers for the interiors and incorporates the ranch’s running W logo into its design. “It’s been really well received by the consumer,” he said.
So when Ford was looking for a partner to help it reintroduce the popular Bronco brand after a 25-year absence from the market, and was seeking another brand that was rugged, durable and dependable, it settled on Filson. Both brands have a history of supporting firefighters and preserving America’s natural resources and forests.
“We have a shared connection so it was a natural fit,” he said, adding that the car company is “really protective on who we want to work with.”
The two companies collaborated to raise funds in support of the National Forest Foundation’s reforestation programs and promote fire prevention awareness through the introduction of a limited-edition Bronco + Filson outdoor capsule and a custom Bronco Wildland Fire Rig concept vehicle inspired by vintage U.S. Forest Service Broncos and Filson’s signatures materials such as canvas and leather.
Alix’s Wakefield said today’s partnerships are “either broad-based or very niche,” and “bring a bit more of a halo effect” or publicity to the car companies. “It stretches the perception of the brand,” but he said there has to be a natural affinity for it to be successful. “Subaru L.L. Bean seems obvious and Mercedes Fashion Week is good,” he said, but the BMW Kith partnership on the surface seems “more of a stretch.”
BMW and Fieg disagree. Uwe Dreher, vice president of marketing for the U.S. for BMW, said the company started exploring the idea of working with a fashion lifestyle brand about a year ago and met Fieg. “In 10 seconds, we saw what a BMW fan he was. It was very authentic.”
Fieg said his passion for BMW started when he was seven and his grandfather bought a 1989 EM3. “He was so excited and proud of that car,” he recalled, and it was contagious. “When something is embedded in you at that age, it’s with you forever.”
He had posters of BMWs on his walls when he was a teen and eventually was able to afford to purchase a 335i Coupe as his third car.
But he never forgot that 1989 M3, which was still in the family. After his meeting with the BMW team, they stripped the car down to the screws and rebuilt it for him in Germany. The 2020 version features co-branded Kith BMW roundel emblems on the hood, trunk, rims and steering wheel. The Motorsport font replaced the M3 logo and the interior was re-created in leather and features an embossed Kith monogram pattern across the seats and door panels.
The rebuilt car was also the inspiration for the apparel collection, which was a first for BMW and the largest for Kith at 94 pieces. Styles include color-blocked cardigans and intarsia sweaters, racing-inspired jackets, nylon track suits, kimono blazers and suede bombers and an assortment of graphic hoodies and T-shirts. Accessories range from custom valve caps and license plate frames to umbrellas, mugs, pillows, scarves and driving gloves.
Together, Fieg and the BMW design team also created the 2021 M4 Competition car, which Fieg believes “will be a timeless classic.” The car will be delivered next summer, which is the year that Kith will celebrate its 10-year anniversary.
“We’ve evolved and matured into a true fashion lifestyle brand,” Fieg said. And the partnership with BMW is seen as a way to further expand the reach of the label. “For BMW or Kith fans who can or cannot purchase a car, this is a way to experience it through the collection.” With T-shirts and hoodies part of the offering, even Kith’s young fans can still buy into it, Fieg said, along with the older consumer who has grown up with the brand and achieved a “level of sophistication” and the disposable income along with it.
Dreher said when working with Fieg, BMW was careful to ensure each partner stayed in its lane. “He’s so experienced on the fashion side and we are experts on cars. So we left it up to him how large the collection would be and the pricing. We don’t try to play the role of our partners.”
Because Fieg’s fan base tends to be younger, Dreher said it was logical to partner with him on a sports car. “If it was our 7 series or our 8 series, we might work with a different brand,” he said, one more rooted in luxury than streetwear. “But when you see people running around with Gucci and Balenciaga hoodies for $1,000, we can see people who wear Kith sitting in a very expensive car.”
And if the person is younger and not quite able to write a check with six digits, they may have influence over someone who can. “They may say to their parents or their uncle, ‘This is cool.’ So there’s a lot of spillover. And there are such a limited number of cars, so we’re not afraid they won’t sell.” Indeed, pre-orders for the vehicle have also been “incredible,” he said.
Dreher said BMW has also created content for fashion weeks in the past and considers “the whole fashion designer aesthetic” as important to its messaging. “We want to speak to that [community] and hope they will consider BMW,” he said.
Colin Jeffery, a veteran in automobile marketing and cofounder and chief creative officer of creative consultancy Wolfgang, characterized fashion and car collaborations as either “shared value or shock value. Cars have always said as much about us as our clothing. The car is talked about as a fashion accessory and fashion is the ultimate car accessory.”
Fashion week sponsorships have been another way carmakers have sought to boost their images. One of the pioneers was General Motors, which sponsored New York Fashion Week in the Nineties. Fern Mallis, who was executive director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and senior vice president of IMG Fashion, said, laughing, “I called GM and blindly asked to speak to the president.”
She was put through and after a few conversations, the manufacturer signed on.
“We were looking for major American industries to support American designers. It was a highly successful relationship,” she said, adding that GM’s participation also had a philanthropic component because it was tied to Fashion Targets Breast Cancer. Designers including Nicole Miller and Todd Oldman customized cars that were auctioned off and raised millions of dollars for the cause, Mallis said.
Janice Rosenhaus, chief executive officer of Harris Marketing Group in Birmingham, Mich., was key to connecting GM with New York Fashion Week. “In the beginning, we brought Cadillac in because it made sense for the luxury customer,” she said, adding that eventually, all of GM’s brands were involved. And the association was deemed a success. “We saw an incremental lift from people who purchased GM cars from this program,” she said. “It got the attention of the consumers who considered GM product which they might not have without this program.”
Eventually, GM stepped aside and Mercedes-Benz took over the sponsorship slot, a program that has since expanded beyond New York to other U.S. cities as well as internationally. “It was a great marketing platform,” Mallis said. “It was a way to talk about style and design and it gave them a platform.”
The Mercedes-Benz participation continues to this day and the brand now sponsors some 80 fashion-related events in nearly 40 countries. One of its most recent collaborations was with Abloh.
The designer said he quickly embraced the opportunity to work with the luxury carmaker when he was approached with the idea. “You have to remember that I don’t come from this traditional design background; I’m trained in engineering and architecture,” he said. “Opportunities like this one weren’t really afforded to kids like me when I was growing up. I definitely want to continue working in this way that’s more metaphoric, cross-disciplinary, use different techniques on established icons, push the status quo. In all of my works I hope to accomplish two things — to collaborate with the best in class, and to open doors for those coming after me.”
Abloh acknowledged that the definitions of luxury are changing today. Case in point is the Luxes exhibition at Les Arts Decoratifs in Paris that showcased a Vuitton shoe trunk on the same level as a Supreme x Rimowa case.
“The idea of luxury is ever changing, particularly now,” Abloh said. “What remains consistent is the notion that the things we personally perceive to be luxurious are really just things that we covet. I’ve always said this can be a T-shirt for some, or an LV tote for others. Project Geländewagen with Mercedes-Benz proves that luxury doesn’t have to conform to the ways of the past. It’s up for interpretation to each individual.”
Bettina Fetzer, head of marketing for Mercedes-Benz, explained the appeal of working with someone like Abloh, whose background is in streetwear. “Virgil not only shares our passion for design, but also brings his own highly developed sense of visual identity, and fascination for adapting his work across multiple mediums,” she said. “Mercedes-Benz has always been driven to capture the zeitgeist, and try new approaches that innovate a contemporary luxury brand experience. A global leader in pop culture, Virgil is the benchmark for this in his field — his ability to connect with multiple landscapes from luxury fashion to streetwear to design with ease is unparalleled. These synergies between Mercedes-Benz and Virgil meant the whole process felt very natural and organic.”
Fetzer said there are a number of issues to consider when speaking of car design today. “Sustainability has become one of the most important factors in luxury automotive, and a top priority for our brand. Mercedes-Benz understands that buying a piece of luxury design is an emotional experience: a product cannot just look good, it needs to make you feel good. In addition to this, and especially during this challenging year, intangible luxuries such as time, safety, comfort and reliability are paramount to not just our product offerings, but how today’s customers engage with the brand as a whole. Aspirational design, craftsmanship and innovation have been at the heart of Mercedes-Benz design for more than 130 years — this will never change. How a brand and product connects with customers and fans emotionally, while creating memorable and surprising moments as well as inspirational and creativity-triggering impulses for our company, is the true testament of luxury today.”
She said sponsoring fashion weeks will continue to be key to the brand’s marketing initiatives in the future. “Mercedes-Benz is proud to have been an ongoing partner to the global fashion industry for more than 25 years now,” she said. “Outstanding design, collaboration and creativity are just some of the qualities that define the Mercedes-Benz brand, and we are committed to supporting fashion as an innovating industry in these fields. Fashion week sponsorship continues to be a central part of our global fashion engagement and we are delighted to see how well partnerships such as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, Istanbul, Mexico, Madrid and the International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories in Hyères are pivoting to digital or phy-gital formats.”
She pointed to the brand’s support of emerging fashion communities and designers as well. “Through ‘Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents,’ and creative collaborations, we have supported over 140 designers in more than 30 platforms around the world, including in Milan, London, New York, Beijing, Prague, Istanbul and Berlin. At the Hyeres Festival this October, we announced our partnership with Fashion Open Studio, the British, global nonprofit organization campaigning for a more sustainable luxury industry, with whom we mentored the festival’s fashion finalists on how to be more sustainable. Charged by Mercedes-Benz, Fashion Open Studio has also developed an eco-sustainability road map to inspire the global Mercedes-Benz markets in a responsible engagement in fashion.”
This month, she said the brand will launch an editorial project that will spotlight five Ghanaian designers to replace Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Accra, which was postponed from October to the third quarter of 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic. And in December, Mercedes-Benz will unveil a project with model Adut Akech — earlier in the year, the brand partnered with Helena Christensen — to raise awareness of the need to wear a face mask, she said.
As Fetzer mentioned, the issue of sustainability is increasing in importance for both the automotive brands as well as the fashion community.
In March, Giorgio Armani designed a one-off Fiat 500, an environmentally friendly electric vehicle as part of a charity project in support of Earth Alliance, the nonprofit organization founded by Leonardo DiCaprio, who has worn Armani on the red carpet for years. The organization fights climate change and the loss of biodiversity throughout the world.
Separately, ads featuring DiCaprio driving a new electric Fiat 500 are currently running on TV.
The car was auctioned together with two other Fiat 500 versions, designed by Bulgari and Kartell, respectively. Partially laser-etched to create a fabric-like finish, Armani’s model in a grayish green with a silk-effect featured innovative antipollution and antibacterial technology that helps purify the air. The exterior was equipped with alloy rims and a folding fabric roof personalized with the “GA” logo.
The interior was designed in natural controlled-origin leather and wool fabric, featuring regenerated wood inserts with aluminum details.
This partnership with a car brand was not a first for the Italian designer. Armani first collaborated with Mercedes-Benz back in 2004. He explained that he considers any collaboration outside fashion: “a source of great enrichment and learning.” He described the automotive world as “extremely fascinating: it combines engineering and aesthetics in inextricable singularity. I have learned, or rather fine-tuned, the art of dialogue, closely studied the relation between form and function, beauty and use: principles that already belong to my world, but that in automotive become indispensable.”
He revealed that in his youth he was passionate about cars, and that he drove a lot given his numerous work-related trips. “For years now, I have indulged in a driver, although I am extremely responsible: I walk to work, since home and work are close by. I very much loved my Volkswagen Beetle — so basic — which I sold to start my company and then bought back with my first profits.”
Collaborating on the 500 and with Mercedes is part of Armani’s desire for his brand to be representative of lifestyle. Moved by “the research for excellence,” he said it was only “natural for me to collaborate with German excellence, Mercedes, and an Italian one, Fiat,” working on different kinds of cars, from the sporty convertible to a sustainable compact car in an “evolution of a model that has deeply marked Italian culture. Responsibility and sustainability are issues that closely touch all the industries, and that of cars in particular.”
Asked if this was a way to reach a different audience, compared to fashion customers, Armani said it allowed him to convey his “values, very ethical approach to beauty, through objects that are different from clothes, engaging a different and larger public. To talk with people is fundamental for me.”
Ferrari, which is owned by the Elkann and Agnelli family, as is Fiat, last year revealed it was launching a new lifestyle project that will include apparel produced by Armani’s manufacturing sites under a long-term agreement, without the designer’s name appearing on the products. Armani said he had benefited from Fiat and Mercedes’ know-how, while with this other project Ferrari benefits from the designer’s expertise.
Gildo Zegna, ceo of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, discussing the years-long tie-up with Maserati, said the brand has had an “historical connection with the automotive world since the Eighties. I am very proud of our partnership with Maserati. It reflects on how two Italian iconic brands can join their forces to talk to the same audience and reach at the same time new heights of luxury based on a mutual passion for artisanal Made in Italy.”
Zegna explained that artistic director Alessandro Sartori and Klaus Busse, head of design at Maserati, were inspired by the Maserati Granturismo world, “combining innovative technologies with century-old traditions, rooted in common values. I think that customers today are looking for an authentic brand experience and in this collaboration two worlds collide.”
No expense was spared and the interiors of the car feature Zegna’s Pelletessuta, an innovative woven napa made from extremely thin strips of micro-leather in place of fabric yarns, as well as high-end pure silk, realized on purpose for Maserati.
The project also includes a capsule collection, Ermenegildo Zegna exclusively for Maserati, that caters to fans of both brands.
Last year, Trussardi unveiled a collaboration with Fiat for the makeover of the automotive giant’s Panda city car. “In the Seventies, my father thought his company should not represent only the fashion category. Instead the branding activity could expand to other products and activities and he was among the first to understand that lifestyle belonged to fashion,” chairman Tomaso Trussardi said at the time.
The car comes in a matte coffee shade with contrasting black details, while interiors feature the Trussardi logo splashed on seat belts and engraved on the steering wheel, exceptionally replacing Fiat’s one.
In a pairing of Italian craftsmanship and Japanese culture, Lamborghini has now teamed with Yohji Yamamoto, who added his own touch to the Aventador S model and created a co-branded capsule collection comprising a Mod coat, a bomber and a hooded sweatshirt.
Mitja Borkert, head of design at Automobili Lamborghini, met Yamamoto in Paris last January during fashion week and was impressed by the designer’s men’s fall 2020 collection, and its contrasting red and black details. Accordingly, Yamamoto enriched Lamborghini’s signature lines created by car designer Marcello Gandini with motifs selected and inspired by that fall clothing collection.
Yamamoto, who has been seen tooling around Tokyo in his vintage Rolls-Royce or his classic Jaguar, enthused about Lamborghini’s “inimitable design.” These Italian cars, he said, are “instantly recognizable, more than any other car brand: one glance is enough.”
And Automobili Lamborghini, a dedicated lounge and exhibition space, has opened in Tokyo’s Roppongi district — its second after a unit in New York — where customers can personalize their Lamborghinis.
But it’s not just the Italian car manufacturers who have embraced fashion. The U.K. brands have also been active over the years.
The most recent one comes from McLaren, which has teamed with Castore, a British sportswear brand.
The McLaren x Castore capsule collection consists of seven core training and lifestyle pieces, in two colorways. The pieces have been ergonomically cut from the best technically engineered fabric, and, according to Castore, the limited-edition collection was directly inspired by McLaren’s “modern design language, and use of lightweight materials to improve vehicle performance.”
Castore, which was founded by two brothers from Liverpool, Tom and Phil Beahon, is co-owned by the tennis champ Andy Murray. It is focused on enhancing athletic performance through clothing, while McLaren Automotive prioritizes lightweight, high-tech materials — similar to what it would use for its race cars — for its commercial automobiles.
Asked in a video interview why Castore teamed with McLaren, Tom Beahon said: “McLaren was always one of the brands that really inspired me. I love automotive, I love technology, engineering and innovation. McLaren was one of the brands that I grew up with and I really put them on the pedestal of British brands. With Castore, we had the opportunity to partner with them and it’s no less than a dream come true. We’re incredibly excited.”
With regard to the recent pairings between men’s fashion brands and car companies, Beahon said, “There’s very much an alignment in the mind-set of the customers — to be honest — which sees the megabrands of the sportswear market as having a commitment to innovation, technical engineering and creative, superior-quality products. Our customers love investing in the product that they know is different from the products available in the marketplace.”
He added that both automotive brands and fashion brands “have such passionate customer bases, and it’s an opportunity to engage with your customer base in a broader way.”
He said Castore and McLaren set out to create a collection that was unique and would appeal to both customer bases. “All the fabrics we’re using in the collection are completely unique; they’re not being used anywhere else within Castore collections — or by any other brand for that matter. We’re using all our manufacture and engineering and the absolute most technically advanced techniques that are available in terms of sonic construction, laser engineering, absolutely the cutting-edge in terms of manufacturing technology. And we wanted the design of the collection to really represent the best of both McLaren and Castore.”
In a separate video interview, Jolyon Nash, McLaren’s executive director for global sales and marketing, said that “from a pure marketing perspective, partnering with a brand like Castore gives us an opportunity to expand our reach and get the McLaren name exposed to markets we otherwise wouldn’t be talking to. It does broaden our reach.
“What’s particularly appealing for us about Castore as a brand is that there are a lot of similarities between the McLaren brand and the Castore brand. We’re both British businesses, we’re both pretty young. We only started selling cars in 2011. I think the philosophy of Castore is very similar to ours; they focus on innovation, and the use of innovative materials, they focus on lightweight, high-performance products and that’s very similar to us at McLaren. We tend to be very much focused on pioneering technology, we call it ‘fearless engineering,’ and we always try new things with the sole objective of giving our customers the best possible driving cars. I think those two brand philosophies are very well aligned.”
Nash said the collaboration with Castore will “probably bring us greater exposure in demographics that probably tend to be younger. I think in the supercar market, because of the very nature of the price point, a reasonably high percentage of customers tend to be in their 40s and upward. In other markets, we have a lot of customers in their 30s and some markets in their 20s, but the majority tends to be in their 40s, and upward. A brand like Castore can help us build our image in the younger market, and for us, that’s very important. It’s why we’re into working in the gaming industry as well, because we build a very young fan base which, most of the time, can become customers.”
Nash said when young people race McLaren cars as part of an online game, “it’s the equivalent of the posters on the bedroom walls of the Seventies and Eighties. We have lots of anecdotal instances where customers say to us that they only bought a McLaren because their 12-year-old son said ‘Dad, if you want to buy a supercar, let’s go to McLaren,’ because they know McLaren from the gaming world. That’s one element of the Castore relationship. Obviously, they’re not appealing to that age group, but it is a new demographic for us.”
Asked about the sustainability dimension to McLaren’s work, Nash said, “sustainability is obviously something that McLaren is highly focused on. As an example, the next major car that we’re going to be launching is an electrified car that will be lightweight. The car will launch in 2021, and will be a high-performance hybrid. The lightness of the car and the lighter materials we use, the less weight you have to push around, the less power you use, the less fuel you consume. That’s one of the absolute essential foundations for McLaren. We tend to be focused on a weight race, rather than a power race. Less is more.”
Although both McLaren and Castore are new brands, more-established British fashion labels have also been involved with auto companies in the past.
Paul Smith’s Mini is featured as one of the designer’s most important objects in a new 50th anniversary book, published by Phaidon, that tells the designer’s story through 50 objects. In the book, Smith said he was asked to customize an old Mini in 1998, and described the car as a “masterpiece of British design.” He decked the little car out in his signature, multicolored stripes, and had it spray-painted by the same people who do Formula One cars. He later photographed the car and printed it onto bags, and sold thousands of them. Although Smith never owned a Mini himself, he said that the marriage of two British brands made sense to him.
He also worked with other automotive brands. In 2015, Smith, a longtime Land Rover Defender owner, created a one-off edition of the car, jazzing up the utilitarian vehicle with a rich patchwork of 27 specially mixed colors — and with some signature Smith-ian quirks.
Smith colored each panel of the car’s exterior with a different paint — including blue, burgundy and gray — and did the seats in black leather with blue stitching, and Maharam home textile fabric of his own design.
The central glove compartment had a set of keys printed on the base, and there were pops of fluorescent color throughout, a reference to the Defender’s role as an emergency vehicle. A hand-painted bumblebee on the roof of the car was Smith’s homage to the countryside, while door handles, wing mirrors and wheels all have a satin finish. “It’s delightful to be able to participate in things that are made of metal instead of cloth,” Smith said.
The model that Smith customized is the last of its kind, as Land Rover would eventually bring out a new iteration of the car. His design did not go into production. At the time, Gerry McGovern, design director and chief creative officer of Land Rover, said it was Smith who approached the company about creating the design, and who worked closely with its Special Vehicle Operations design team.
“I thought it would be lovely to do a special one-off as a way of saying ‘Byeeeee!’” Smith said.