Accessorizing with Tech

Properties of all types have extended their names and designs into mobile phone cases and other accessories for personal electronics. With the ubiquity of smartphones in daily life, such licensed products have become important means of social expression for consumers. Tech accessories have also taken their place as a fashion statement, and that fact was evident at this year’s virtual Consumer Electronics Show, where fashion was the focus when it came to mobile accessories exhibitors and their licensing activity:

  • Telecom Lifestyle Fashion specializes in designing mobile device accessories under license from fashion and lifestyle labels, including Adidas Originals, Adidas Sport, and Bugatti. At the show it was highlighting new products tied to licenses signed in 2020, including the denim-rooted Italian label Diesel, vintage Americana- and Japanese graphics-inspired British label Superdry, and Swedish streetwear brand WeSC.
  • Urbanista, a marketer of fashion-forward audio accessories including earbuds and cases, included its May 2020 collaboration with H&M Home for a limited-edition, wireless, Bluetooth speaker among the assortment it was touting at the show. The product, which was available at Urbanista’s online shop and H&M Home Concept Stores, featured a blue-and-white striped design inspired by H&M Home’s summer collection. The brand has also done collaborations with DJ Sylvain Armand; the Tim Bergling Foundation, which honors the late DJ Avicii; the purpose-driven group Non-Violence; eyewear label Coco & Breezy; and fitness influencer and designer Hannah Andersson.
  • Richmond & Finch has extended its designs outward. It was promoting its exclusive line of Popsockets PopGrips, which puts the distinctive patterns and surface designs it has created for its cases on a line of Popsockets that complement its products. The launch last January included seven of R&F’s most popular designs, with more added throughout 2020. The R&F Popsockets can be purchased as a bundle with a phone case or as a standalone. (Another exhibitor, NuCurrent, also spotlighted a partnership with Popsockets, for wireless chargers that work with the grips, introduced in January of last year.)

All three of these brands, which had separate digital showrooms at CES, are owned by the same parent, Swedish tech company Strax. But the continuing trend for fashion designers to expand their presence in the mobile-accessories category—a very logical extension for them—goes well beyond these examples.

Most recently, Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet partnered with Casetify in December 2020; Casetify also works with SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker and has done collaborations with Sacai, Vetements, and Moncler-Genius. Incipio markets cases and other items for Coach and Kate Spade New York, and has had other designers on its roster in the past. Fashion labels from Burberry and Louis Vuitton to Tory Burch and Marc Jacobs, among others, market their own lines of phone and earbud cases. Gucci has diversified its line of tech accessories with some character collaborations, including with Doraemon and Donald Duck; both are part of broader joint collections with the luxury label.

In case you missed it, we have published a recap of our observations on some of the broader trends with ramifications for licensing spotted at CES 2021, here, as well as some licensing-specific insights in a previous RaugustReports post, here. Separately, a reminder that we have also posted our annual licensing year-in-review feature, highlighting 20 of the top trends of 2020, here.

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