Branding: Ed Hardy Hits the Luxury Transportation Industry

LCT Staff
Posted on February 25, 2009

Who would have thought tattoo art would become the rage? Combine the art of Don Ed Hardy who perfected the craft of tattooing more than 40 years ago with the marketing expertise of Christian Audigere, the French born marketer, and you get the Ed Hardy brand whose frocks adorn the rich famous and those who aspire to be. From young to old, the brand attracts millions to the heart entwined skull and bones tattoo designs that appeal to a mixed palette.

Enter Edward Vergopia, president of Empire Coachworks International in Central New Jersey. Vergopia, who has a friend who works for Christian Audigere, reached out to Audigere, a car enthusiast. Vergopia wanted to build a custom vehicle for Audigere. The meeting though led to incorporating both the Audigere and Ed Hardy designs to top of the line luxury vehicles. The end results are one of a kind vehicles with a price tag in excess of $300,000. Empire Coachworks bought the licensing rights to the brands for luxury vehicles.

“I thought, if I could get Christian Audigere to tour our facility, I could sell him a custom vehicle,” explained Vergopia. “We managed to create a deal where we sell vehicles branded with the two labels. It’s very exciting to be producing these vehicles.”

So far, Empire has created two custom Christian Audigere branded vehicles. The first is a Cadillac Escalade with 14” extended rear doors. This vehicle is strictly branded under the Christian Audigere signature. The interior has custom reclining seats with motorized leg lifts and built-in massage and heat. Additionally, you will find aMaple burl wood folding desks, play station 3, an Apple computer, full satellite TV, a humidor, and refrigerator. The custom stamped leather incorporates Christian Audigere’s moniker. The vehicle was built with the passengers comfort at the forefront.

The second vehicle is a Mercedes CL63. “We transformed this vehicle into the Ed Hardy 63,” said Michael Misseri, CEO of Empire Coach Works. Misseri said Empire stripped the vehicle down to just its frame and outfitted the interior genuine black crocodile leather accents. The car is painted with a flat finish, which Misseri said is the only vehicle with a rubberized, self-repairing clear coat. “If the vehicle gets a scratch, it repairs itself,” he said.

The exterior also has tattoo art on both rear panels that extend into the door jams and roof. The front grill has a skull with red eyes which can be illuminated. Empire subtly modifies the body to create lines more representative of the Ed Hardy design. Finally, the rims and tires are customized, while the rear armrest incorporates a bottle cooler.

Both vehicles will be shipped overseas later this month. Empire intends to continue selling the Christian Autigere and Ed Hardy branded vehicle to their high end clientele throughout the world. The next iteration of these vehicles will include design changes which individualize the new vehicles and maintain the one of a kind vehicle status.

Source: Linda Moore, LCT Magazine

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