Bringing electronics into fashion
November 12, 2004
Apple’s iPod succeeds because it capitalizes on a multitude of trends. The advertising’s focus on the connected silhouettes show cool harmony between man and machine. Electronic products have now become fashion items; one obvious example being the wireless handset manufacturers who understand the powerful fashion statement design can make.
Now we are starting to see the two worlds coming together. A couple of years back, Burton designed a snowboarding jacket for the iPod and backpack brands like Jansport now allow wearers to connect their MP3 players to the packs. The blurring of these two areas is set to continue as chips become smaller and more powerful.
There are many things for fashion brands to watch out for as they move into this area. Who do they partner with? Do they need to partner? How practical is the idea? Does it work ergonomically? What does it signal about the wearer?
One recent development comes from The Gap who joined forces with Wild Planet to create a kid’s jacket with a built in FM radio dubbed a “Hoodio”.
This product is interesting, it’s clearly aimed at the youngest kids who have yet to become part of the iPod generation, but desire the independence that cocooning oneself in music can bring. The built-in aspect makes perfect parental sense, since kids are prone to loose stuff. However, there’s a delicate balance between practicality and cool. Kids are so savvy when it comes to brands and prone to use brands as social signals, we hope for The Gap’s sake that those who wear the jacket, don’t get labeled, “iPod wannabes”.
Another example is Oakley, who have managed to put an MP3 player into a pair of sunglasses. However, they’ve designed it in typical Oakley syle; loaded with attitude. This clearly is the Hummer of eyewear, designed for people who don’t care what anyone else thinks.
As an alternative, fashion brands might consider staying out of the electronics game altogether. Instead, they could find practical ways for consumers to store the vast array of personal electronic devices that they now own.
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