Catering to the fashionista's phone needs
Gone are the days when the cell phone was used simply as a tool for conversation, and connectivity was the single-biggest factor in determining customer demand.
For those on the go now, a built-in camera in the phone is a must, so that they can snap a shot of whatever tickles their fancy and then share with all and sundry. Preferably, the phone has an MP3 player as well, in order to listen to the latest downloaded tunes, and text-messaging and Internet functions are a given on the handset of any trend-conscious consumer.
Still, it's not simply multiple functions that can sway sales. The look of the mobile phone is equally if not more important, and even some of the biggest names on the fashion runway are jumping onto the handset bandwagon.
Until recently, those more into Jimmy Choo stilettos and custom-made Hermes handbags had to contend with equipping themselves with cellular phones that delighted the tech geeks: They might be state-of-the-art gadgets, but there were few ways to make a cell phone look sharp, except to buy a designer-label carrying case or strap.
Times have changed, however, and last year designer Zac Posen tied up with Finnish mobile-phone giant Nokia to oversee the design of one of its product lines, aptly named the Fashion Collection, which currently features three types of handsets, including one that is called the Going Out phone, a high-gloss, lacquered-looking black and steel somewhat cylinder-looking phone with a red veneer stripe across it. The $450 phone is accompanied by a black carrying pouch that Nokia describes as the handset's "little black dress."
Posen is known more as a designer than a techie; his clientele include some of Hollywood's most prominent stars including Gwyneth Paltrow, Liv Tyler, Natalie Portman and Claire Danes. So the mere fact that he is putting his name on a phone line is a sign that cell phones have fast become not only a necessary tool, but a fashion object as well.
In fact, Nokia launched Wednesday a line of three phones called L'Amour Collection, including one with a leather cover.
"For many consumers, the mobile phone has truly become an extension of their personal style -- it is a fashion statement as well as an advanced communications divide," Alastair Curtis, vice president of design at Nokia's mobile-phones division said in a news release.
Yet haute-couture designers aren't the only ones lending their names to cell-phone products, nor is the fashion phone market geared solely to the Vogue magazine readership. German carrier T-Mobile will be launching a line designed by Juicy Couture next week. Selling for $400, the Sidekick II Juicy Couture edition has the brand's Scottish terriers emblazoned on the back to make its fashion allegiance clear to those in the know. Describing itself as an ultimate "girlie collection," Juicy Couture has been one of the hottest brands amongst trend-conscious teenage girls, with its trousers sporting the word "Juicy" on the posterior being particularly popular.
While Posen may cater more to the "Sex and the City" crowd, Juicy Couture has been the iconic brand among "The OC"-viewing generation. And catering to the whims of that bling-loving generation, the Juicy phone line also has a line of accessories to match, including pink-velour wristlets and carrying cases and Yorkshire-terrier charms.
The latest designer-label Sidekick will also have a series geared for teenage boys as well, with the bald, egg-headed designer Mister Cartoon's artwork featured on the steel-grey phone. Its carrying case comes in black leather or blue denim. Mister Cartoon's works have been used by music stars including Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott and 50 Cent, as well as brands such as Nike and Joker Brand Clothing.
According to T-Mobile, the aim of its latest range of handsets is to be both a phone and a fashion accessory, especially as it has not only calling, text-messaging, e-mailing and camera functions, but will have a "new enhanced browser" that will provide even more features.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International