Arthur Kar has his fingers in many pies. The Parisian is known for running L’art de L’automobile, an exclusive dealership of rare cars, but he’s also an art and fashion collector and is regularly spotted hanging out with Kanye West and his crew of globe-trotting mega-influencers.
Back in April, Arthur linked with colette to drop a special batch of tees, and now he’s back with another limited-edition drop, this time with Parisian high fashion boutique The Broken Arm. We hit him up to get the low-down on his latest project, the aesthetic inspirations behind KAR, and the ways in which vehicles create deep emotional attachments.
Head over to The Broken Arm to shop Arthur’s latest tee designs, and be sure to check out our feature on Arthur’s high-end car dealership.
So far, we’ve seen a range of vintage, automotive-inspired graphics from the brand. Can you explain your taste in visuals?
Well, the brand is the result of over 10 years of influence of the three worlds and industries I have been evolving in. As a car specialist and an active fashion and art enthusiast, I was often wondering how to mix these passions of mine through the creative process. And after some exciting research and development, we came up with this first line. I think anyone can relate to it, because it’s not just a car on a T-shirt, the products will remind you of your own experience with cars, and every place and emotion related to it. From being taken to school as a kid, on highways, at gas stations, car washes, at the mechanics or even on a race for some of us …that’s what these visuals are.
To some, the brand might seem like merchandise for your business L’art de L’automobile, can you explain the difference?
I’ve explained a part of that in the previous question but I understand this could be a little confusing. I’m grateful to have a successful career as a car dealer with L’art de l’automobile but this is just one of the components of Kar. Truly, my love for arts and fashion, and the acquired experiences in these fields are just as important as L’art de L’automobile. That is why I make it clear that this is not a merch line but a legitimate fashion brand, with a range of products that will evolve in the very near future.
Many of the graphics reference California, like Silver Lake and Venice Beach, what is the association here?
Anyone who’s ever been to California knows that it is literally impossible to live a normal life there without a car. They probably spend more time in their cars than any other place in the world. Therefore, the automotive culture there is incredibly strong. People love cars and they are not afraid to show it. A whole aesthetic has developed around it and some of the greatest architects in the world have built gas stations and car washes in California that are eternally anchored in the landscape of their cities and highways.
I have spent a fair amount of time in California these last few years and it has had a wonderful influence on my creative process and on me in general. This is why it seemed like a logical starting point for Kar.
You also worked to create custom fits for the brand, can you talk about this? For some, €90 may seem expensive for a T-shirt. Why is it worth the price tag?
As for the price tag, you know, I haven’t always been able to allow myself expensive clothing and this lifestyle. That’s exactly why I know good quality when I see it. And launching a brand with anything less than the best quality components for me was just out of the question. It may seem expensive to some but the entire creative process was made by my team and I at our studios, from start to finish, pattern making, tailoring, design…all of it.
You recently worked with colette on a small collection, can you explain some of the items?
Yes, for quite some time, and before the rise of new forces in the industry, colette has been the only store of the sort, always a step ahead, with the sharpest selection and their work has inspired many other places to try and recreate that all around the world. So when the opportunity came, the timing was right for the launch and we started to exchange designs and ideas. The main idea was to keep that Parisian street culture, something that isn’t celebrated enough in my opinion, and that’s why we used what we call Ver-lan. Something very common in the late ’90s which consisted of reversing the syllables in a word. There it was, Lettco!
We’ve also seen some cut-and-sew like the double-hooded sweater. When does that release? Will you be doing more cut and sew?
There is a whole range of products in the making as we speak. I can not give you a precise release date but I can tell you that we will be releasing a whole collection through the next weeks including more cut and sew.
Why is the VW Golf such an important icon for the brand?
It is my first approach to cars. My father owned one, same year, same color. The memories I have in it are exactly what the essence of Kar is.
Who is the L’art de l’automobile customer?
People who enjoy trust and complete discretion. That is why I won’t say much more than that, unfortunately.
What do you think about other automotive-related products? For example the Porsche x adidas sneakers? Or Lamborghini cologne?
I guess I would have to respond individually but that’s not really something to compare to Kar. One is a marketing extension of a worldwide namesake and the latter a humble attempt to remind you of the emotions that the cars and the moments lived in or around them can generate.
What can we expect in the future?
A complete collection and a bunch of collaborations with my favorite stores and designers in the very near future.
For more insight into fashion’s coolest creatives, meet the guy making the sickest custom denim right now.