There’s an ominous new, all black storefront on Lafayette Street near Soho in NYC. Large, dark wood doors are flanked by windows covered in black and white photographic murals lit by giant film-set style lights. Not a sliver of the interior can be seen from the sidewalk but it’s obviously an apparel store, seemingly a clone of Abercrombie & Fitch. But hidden inside is a surprise: one of the most successful racing cars ever produced.
Etiqueta Negra, meaning ‘black label’ or ‘black tie,’ is the leader in the high-end clothing segment in Argentina. It was founded in 2003 by Federico Álvarez Castillo and Juan Cahen d´Anvers both passionate about cars…and polo (their team is currently ranked #1 in Argentina). The label has an alliance with the foundation of Juan Manuel Fangio, who many consider to be the greatest racing driver of all time. Federico has built an extensive collection of vintage cars, motorcycles and automotive memorabilia, much of which are put on display in their stores. The location on Lafayette (the first in the US) features a 1938 Alfa Romeo 158, which Fangio raced. Sadly, to facilitate easier shipping, the engine was left in Argentina.
The car is obviously meant to be an exclamation point on the clothing which ranges from formal suits to casual distressed t-shirts and South American denim. But the inclusion of the car in the store got us wondering if any current auto manufacturers looking for a way to save themselves might not want to try partnering with a fashion label. Might the next new Scion debut at Uniqlo? If we had our way, we’d have bought that Alfa 158 and be out cruising the streets of NYC right now.