That old quote “You shine up like a new penny” needn’t be applied just to characters in movies or books. Anything with classic good looks—say, perhaps a 1961 Flying Cloud Airstream—just needs a bit of sprucing to hit the road in fine style. The Kit and Ace trailer has those good looks down cold, and since it’s a showroom for Kit and Ace’s “luxury loungewear” merchandise, the Flying Cloud has plenty of good (and stylish) looks in its interior too.
The company is the brainchild of Shannon Wilson, wife of lululemon founder Chip Wilson. Shannon teamed up with her son JJ in a quest to design comfortable yet sophisticated clothing, with a designer look but a performance-wear feel. It was JJ who spearheaded the design of the Airstream, dubbed the Copper Studio. “We opted to paint it copper because it’s one of our key brand elements—there are hints of copper in all our retail spaces and it speaks to the luxury feel of our brand. Plus, it’s incredibly eye-catching to drive a big copper bullet around!” says Anna Cordon, a PR representative for Kit and Ace.
The Airstream is handsomely appointed, a result of its refurbishing by Hofmann Architecture of Santa Barbara, CA. The right side has a gullwing window that opens onto Kit and Ace goods, and the rear window is the shape of the K&A logo. It took Hofmann around two months to make the Airstream into a clothing showroom, including painting it that distinctive new-penny color, a custom-blended shade just for Kit and Ace. Besides refurbishing older trailers, Hofmann also gets new shells from the Airstream factory for custom renovation.
The trailer hasn’t stood still after its touching up: a Kit and Ace team piloted the gleaming Cloud across the country last year, pulling a trailer-load of “Technical Cashmere” t-shirts from West Coast to East to let potential customers see and feel the magic of their fabric innovations. Besides the nuisance of two flat tires, the copper beacon smoothly delivered on all its shiny promise.
“The immediate reaction was one of surprise and excitement. People are often initially a little confused to see an Airstream kitted out as a retail space, but the feedback we’ve received around the design and the innovative details we put into it has been great,” says Cordon. Last year’s tour was so dandy, they’re finishing up this year’s US tour at the SXSW conference. But new pennies get no rest: after that, the Copper Studio’s going to Australia, where it’s going to tour Down Under.
Kit and Ace know their stuff about fabric, but they seem to know their old aluminum as well. “We chose an Airstream because they speak to travel in a classic yet luxurious way. We needed something mobile and an Airstream was a much more elevated option than something like a step-van. We are a brand that creates clothing from noble fibers like cashmere and silk, so we wanted to ensure that the luxury feel came through, even though we were moving around,” says Cordon.
Copper can’t technically be classified as a noble fiber, but “elevated option”—yes.
—by Tom Bentley