Accessorizing with Music

Last month, Fendi announced a deal with Devialet for a portable speaker. This is the latest in a series of speaker pairings between luxury fashion designers and electronics companies that has been ongoing since the mid-2010s and has intensified since 2021. While the configurations vary, the majority, especially recently, are portable and designed as fashion-forward accessories for men and/or women, with the devices carried by a strap, like a handbag, or attached to a garment or carry-all. They are also functional, typically featuring high-quality sound befitting a luxury item.

Some examples, nearly all in the form of limited editions:

  • Fendi’s new deal with Devialet, a high-end French electronics company, debuted as part of the designer’s fall/winter 2024 collection, with the speakers carried by five models on the runway at the house’s Milan Fashion Week show. The 360-degree Mania Speakers—which represent Devialet’s first fashion collaboration—are portable, spherical, and covered in Fendi-logoed fabric. They come in four colors: grey and black with silver, which retails for $790; brown and tobacco with gold, for $990; and two seasonal colors, Sunset Rose and Sandstorm, for $899 each.
  • Also in January of this year, Louis Vuitton debuted a lightweight, travel-friendly aluminum LV Nanogram Speaker with a 17-hour battery life. The 5.3-inch by 4-inch product, weighing just over a pound, can be attached by a leather loop to a belt, backpack, or handbag. The metal is debossed with LV flower icons, the speaker grille features the LV logo, and the house’s full name is spelled out in LED lights. The product, inspired by LV handbag designs, comes in three colors: silver, copper, and a patchwork pattern called Damoflage. The last takes its cues from designer-musician and frequent collaborator Pharrell Williams’ spring/summer 2024 collection for the label. The Nanogram, which includes technology from Harman and retails for $2,230, is a follow-up to the brand’s LV Horizon Speaker, designed by Nicolas Ghesquiere with technology from Thundercomm, which was introduced in 2021. A new silver version of that product was released in 2023 for $3,600.
  • Balenciaga paired with Danish audio marketer Bang & Olufsen, the king of collaboration in the world of luxury fashion speakers, in 2022. The hybrid “speaker bag” was a portable speaker made from aluminum, shaped like a Balenciaga handbag, with speaker holes on the front and a lambskin-lined compartment in the back to store credit cards, keys, and other contents of a purse. The speaker bag, available in black or silver and limited to 20 units, was introduced at Balenciaga’s couture show in Paris in summer 2022 and was priced at $9,185.
  • Streetwear label Stüssy paired with Apple-owned Beats by Dr. Dre in 2022 for a version of its Pill+ portable speaker, temporarily resurrecting a product that had been discontinued earlier in the year after an eight-year run. The black and white design of the small, pill-shaped speaker, which retailed for $185 new, featured skull-and-crossbones artwork on the speaker grille and the Stüssy logo on the back. The phrase “The only good system is a sound system” was on the bottom of the product. Stüssy and Beats also introduced a set of Studio Pro headphones in December 2023.
  • Supreme paired with Bang & OIufsen in 2022 for the fourth time since the mid-2010s, this time for a portable speaker with 27 hours of playing time. The cylindrical speaker, in aluminum with a rubber base, was available in two colors, Supreme Red or Black Anthracite, both with a prominent Supreme logo. Part of the label’s spring/summer 2022 collection, the piece retailed for $258. Past speakers from the two collaborators included portable models in various styles, including a Beosound edition. (Supreme also partnered with JBL in 2021, for a set of L100 classic bookshelf speakers.)
  • In 2021, Hong Kong-based streetwear label Clot collaborated with Bang & Olufsen for the Beosound A1 Clot Edition. The small, round, red, Clot logo-stamped speaker had a black leather strap and a matching tag sporting both companies’ logos. The speaker was meant to capture the label’s East-meets-West sensibility and was dust- and waterproof, with very clear omnidirectional sound and 18 hours of play on a single charge.
  • Late designer Virgil Abloh’s Canary Yellow brand paired with Syng in 2021 for a limited version—with 24 made—of the latter’s Cell Alpha speaker. This was a stationery speaker on a stand, in black with yellow highlights, featuring Canary Yellow’s candle logo and the phrase “For Listening.” Billed as the first “triphonic” speaker, the $2,399 Cell Alpha is known for its high-quality sound and very modern look.
  • Back in 2019, Japanese electronics company Cotodoma paired with Saint Laurent for a limited-edition, all-black, Saint Laurent-logoed version of its Lyric Speaker Canvas, available for $2,655 in Saint Laurent’s Rive Droite stores. The speaker consisted of two connected square boards, each slightly larger than a vinyl album cover, and was designed to look like a record leaning against a carrying case. The square in back was the speaker and the one in front displayed a song’s lyrics while being played, with different fonts depending on the style of music. Separately, in 2017, Saint Laurent paired with Bang & Olufsen for the Beoplay A1 portable speaker ($4,650) and Beoplay A9 stationery model ($460), both black and Saint Laurent-logoed. These were also available through Rive Droite stores, after an exclusive at Colette.

Speakers are not the only electronics category where luxury fashion labels have made a mark. These design brands have, over the years, become players in all kinds of electronics, especially those that are de facto fashion accessories. Examples range from phones such as Dolce and Gabbana’s from Motorola and Hugo Boss’s with Samsung, to smart devices like Hermes’ Apple Watch edition and Yves Saint Laurent’s smart backpack with Google, to headphones including Chanel’s with Monster and Celine’s with Master & Dynamic. These types of ventures are a logical extension to the labels’ ranges of accessories, while being innovative enough to continue to pique the interest of the fashion media and luxury consumers alike.

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