The Miami-based powerhouse VÉHICULE is a beacon of exclusivity, attracting the likes of Drake and Italian auto magnate Lapo Elkann.
Anyone can get the general public’s attention these days. With attention spans shrinking and the screen-time numbers growing, it’s a matter of simple statistics—everyone will, at some point, get their proverbial 15 minutes. The game has evolved, and the goal is no longer just to get attention, but to get the right kind of attention, from the right people. What is attention if it’s so fleeting?
Enter VÉHICULE, the Miami-based brainchild of the multihyphenate known to cycle through identities (the elusive street artist currently goes by the moniker “pretty white girl a.k.a. mr. x,” while the founder’s artistic director goes by “Banana Jo”), and the product of years spent dissecting the behind-the-scenes intricacies of the art, design, automotive, advertising, filmmaking and corporate worlds. In the vein of designers such as Raf Simons or Martin Margiela, little is known about the makers themselves. Instead, the focus lies with the concept. Created as a cross-platform, interdisciplinary, multimedia outlet for all things avant-garde, VÉHICULE first manifested in 2020 as a magazine. The volume, printed with a variety of covers, each reflecting the magazine’s contents, was dedicated to the high-stakes world of offshore powerboating and its dramatic underbelly riddled with drugs, smuggling, cheating and murder. It was entirely ad-free—an explicit acknowledgement of the publication’s dedication to purity and truth to form, rendering it more akin to a fine-art edition than a commercial product.
Rather than being supported by advertisers, the magazine derived its funding from dedicated partners and its growing fanbase. Originally sold for €200, the price tag was less a barrier to entry and more so a symbol of mutual trust between the project and those who consumed it. In setting that price, VÉHICULE expressed pride in what they had crafted and signaled that it is, as they state, “not for everyone.” In accepting that price, each person who ordered an issue voiced their express support for the publication’s ideals.
The edition quickly sold out, was overhauled with new contributions and was reissued. Never one to limit himself, VÉHICULE’s founder built upon the momentum of the magazine to continue developing the brand into the platform that it was conceived as—one that produced objects of value for an exclusive clientele.
VÉHICULE’s Miami-centric focus served as a catalyst for in-depth projects designing two of the (many) things that the city is known for—cars and boats—taking the prompt “What’s a high-performance truck if you have nothing good to pull behind it?” as a jumping-off point. In collaborations with leading names in the industry, they obsessively hand-picked an ex-military Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, and restored and transformed it until every part of the car had been touched, tinkered with and perfected. In the end, it had a naturally aspirated 550-horsepower V8, refined suspension setup and lush interior treatment. Designed to be towed behind it was what VÉHICULE dubbed the 300R SUPER FLATS—a carbon-fiber, 20-foot, flats-style boat with a massive 300-horsepower V8.
While this pairing of projects was guided by pure mechanical brutality, VÉHICULE was also simultaneously developing a line that operated on a very different end of a similar detail-obsessed spectrum. With endeavors into the world of apparel—jackets, hats, swimwear, eyewear, watches and accessories—he integrated the bold with the playful, toying with the scale and form of his ethos, adapting and rethinking it at will. This attracted the attention of Italian business magnate Lapo Elkann and his Italia Independent brand, resulting in exclusive, limited-edition capsule collaborations that stood as representations of a unique synthesis of creative languages, approaches and mentalities.
Constantly striving toward the limits, the next logical step presented itself in the form of the VÉHICULE Race Team. In standard VÉHICULE fashion, the concise name tells no lies—this is a team of real racers. Not only that, it is a team of real winners, counting two-time world powerboating champions Jan-Cees and Paul Korteland, rally legend Albert von Thurn und Taxis and racing polymath Riccardo Ponzio among its ranks. The team operates on the principle of “Once a champion, always a champion,” with each member reveling in the success of the other. Together, they form a tight network bound by a sense of competition.
Perhaps it’s this driving force that attracted Drake’s venerated OVO label. Their signature owl is emblazoned on the VÉHICULE Race Team Bernico FTX27 racing boat, and the Toronto powerhouse’s Instagram seems to point to a potential collaboration. Everyone we have contacted to find out more has stayed tight-lipped, although OVO doesn’t post about other brands readily. While we’re on the topic of partnerships though, we are hearing that VÉHICULE turned down working with Palace, and that they’re making moves into architecture and food.
So what is it that has proven so magnetic about this off-beat, underground, indefinible project to those most discerning? Casting exclusivity aside, the consensus seems to be that the main draw is VÉHICULE’s particular union of a DIY approach and high-end execution. Their magazine was a no-expense-spared endeavor (purposeful paper selection, forward-thinking design, attention to detail) but grew from the same place that a zine would (singular vision, no editorial compromises, unbound by external interests). As of late, they have taken up a rogue wheatpasting campaign, transforming a guerilla-marketing tactic from a local phenomenon to a global one: Posters of theirs catch eyes on the streets of Berlin, Miami, London, Copenhagen and beyond.
It’s just a saying, but it’s ultimately true. “If you want something done well, do it yourself.” No matter the scale, this seems to be at the heart of VÉHICULE’s admittedly scattered portfolio. In a world marred and hamstrung by compliance, overthinking, countless departments pulling in opposite directions and a general lack of direction, the Miami natives are looking back to move forward, signaling a return to the freewheeling, visionary focus of the recent past, and reintroducing the avant-garde spirit that they have become known for.
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