There is something about cars that people of all ages are attracted to. A stunning car slowly rolling down a city street will cause an entire family to stop and stare.
Car makers have been collaborating with fashion designers for decades. Some of the most celebrated sneakers were inspired by legendary sports cars. And the other way around, as seen on this Jordan-Inspired BMW M3. Car makers are making their own lifestyle products, too, and brands like FATLACE and Period Correct have a grassroots following that stems from car culture.
Cars resonate—brands like Ralph Lauren use the designer's expansive car collection in fashion shows, guys like Arthur Kar create a platform mixing street culture and car culture through L'art de L'Automobile, and there are photos all over Instagram of people who make custom cars look like today's hottest sneakers and brands.
We came across @jah_nita, the Switzerland-based Instagrammer bringing cars and clothing together like no one else is on Instagram. We did some searching to learn her story only to find out it was yet to be told.
How did you get started?
Last summer, my boyfriend and I were walking through a parking lot in Switzerland and came across a car that happened to match my entire outfit. We thought it would be fun to take a matching 'fit pic with the car. I didn’t think much of it when posting, but when I saw how much attention and positive feedback it was receiving, it made me realize this could be a thing to start doing moving forward.
It’s very obvious you have an organic taste for cars. Where did this appreciation come from?
I’m sure I have a picture or a VHS recording of this somewhere: I was six or seven years old when I got a Ferrari Testarossa remote-control car for Christmas. It was a gift from my dad. He knew I loved cars! He was proud of my appreciation for cars and wanted to encourage it, instead of buying me dolls or other typical toys for girls my age.
I don't remember exactly, but I must have seen a Testarossa on the road or parked on the street and I was drawn to the beauty of this car, specifically the iconic side strakes. When I saw it, I told my parents I wanted to be able to own a car like that when I got older.
I remember when my parents first immigrated from Yugoslavia to Switzerland, they were so excited to purchase a VW Golf GTI MkII—we owned it for 20 years. I was really amazed by this car. I even remember my mom posing in front of the car. It was black with a manual transmission. I really loved driving it.
Like Arthur Kar of L’art de L’Automobile, you grew up on the Golf GTI. What was the vibe like when you guys met?
I had been following @lartdelautomobile for some time. They liked and commented on a few of my posts that I had tagged them in while wearing KAR, the clothing brand extension of L’art de L’Automobile. I DM’d them letting them know that I will be in Paris and to see if there is any chance I can visit the garage while there and they warmly replied with a time slot for me.
When I arrived, I was welcomed by Adrien Leborgne who works alongside Arthur Kar. When I was about to leave, Arthur happened to walk in and very kindly greeted me. It was so rewarding that he knew who I was because I know how well-known he is. While he didn’t have much time to sit with me, we had a quick chat about cars and fashion and he sent me off with some goodies.
I remember at one point, I really wanted to find a Cadillac Allanté—Arthur’s dream car growing up—which he now owns in white, and the same one featured on his famous T-shirt. It had to be white, just like his. There are only three of them in the country of Switzerland, and I drove to the other side of Switzerland to do a shoot with it.
How do you manage to set up shoots with such unique cars?
Early on, I would drive around parking lots until I found something that stood out. This proved to be quite difficult, but people around me started connecting me with car owners, which consistently led to increasing opportunities.
I attend classic car meets happening all over Switzerland, where you can find some of the rarest cars. I also go through the classifieds online to see what’s out there. Even though I have no intention to purchase, the sellers are generally willing to let me do a shoot.
There is also another unconventional method I use. It’s quite funny, in Switzerland, you can find out who owns the car by looking up the license plate through an app. If I come across a parked car that gets my attention with no owner in site, I’ll run the plate and contact the owner.
I really enjoy taking pictures with the cars, but I also really like taking the time talking to their owners to hear their stories. Their cars are an extension of them, and they get super excited when you show interest in them. It’s really a special moment to share with these people.
Recently, there has been such a retreat towards nostalgia in our culture, both in fashion and cars. You seem to be attracted to cars of the past rather than today.
I have always loved vintage automobile design—the shapes, the lines, the colors, and overall look that I don’t find in the cars of today. I especially love the aesthetics of cars from the late '60s to early '90s. Each model brought something new in terms of design and engineering. It’s similar to the evolution of sneakers where each new model is a style and technology revolution.
I like distinguished cars, because even people who are not car connoisseurs will recognize and appreciate them.
Are you a car owner?
I see myself owning a car in the future, but I don’t at this time of my life. I live in a city and don’t actually need one—my parents have cars that I can borrow when needed, but otherwise, I’m doing fine without one.
What is your most memorable shoot?
This happened once when we saw an old BMW 2002 Turbo parked in front of a restaurant. I ran the plates and called the owner. His wife picked up and said her husband is away in a friendly tone, and he called me back in just five minutes so excited saying, “You want to take a picture with my car?!” It turned out that he had a collection of nearly 70 cars tucked away, including 2 legendary BMW M1s, a Lamborghini Miura, and a Testarossa in red!
If you find a car you want to do a shoot with and don’t have anything to go with it, will you specifically buy something for the shoot?
I like to match the spirit of the car, whether it’s the era or the livery of the car. If I don’t have anything that will do the car justice, I will buy whatever I need.
On certain shoots, I go out of my way to purchase sneakers. I love sneakers, so it’s an excuse for me to add to my extensive collection. I don’t spend too much money. I can style both high-end and affordable clothes.
Do you consider yourself an influencer? Does the word bother you?
No, no, not at all. I don’t think I have enough power or say regarding what’s cool and what’s not...and I don’t care. What matters is if I like it.
I’m not sure if this qualifies me as an "influencer": I often get DMs or people leaving comments asking me about a particular garment or shoe I’m wearing. I occasionally get invitations to go to shop openings and such.
Do you have brands reaching out to you to plug their product?
Yes, mostly clothing brands. I won’t accept if I don’t like it or I don't see how I could style it successfully.
Where do you see this going next? Are you happy keeping this on side or do you have aspirations of quitting your day job?
I would really love to keep this as a form of expression at the moment. I really enjoy my day job—I'm a Communications Manager for a visual arts exhibition in Switzerland. It took me a very long time to get this opportunity.