iPhone fashion – skirting the geek

This is geek chic

Fashionistas see the iPhone and iPod touch as more than just an accessory. To them, it is an integral part of an outfit, a statement, a clever way to enhance their get up, or vica versa. It’s all part of the game and it makes sense. At the other end of the spectrum are the geeks. This fun-sucking group keep their portable devices locked away in Otter Boxes and wear only the most manly of earphones, swearing that it’s girly to accessorise a piece of steel and glass.

Both groups are equally right and equally wrong. Firstly, iDevices and iPods have reached a level of ubiquity in certain countries which almost rivals the original walkman, or to put it in pertinent terms, Levis jeans. Proliferation has generated a load of great fashion accessories for the iPhone: cases, purses, shoes, iPod-friendly ties!

But the most telling sign that the iPhone is a fashion accessory is the lengths some will go to to make “statements”. For instance, you can pay 1,92 million £ for a diamond studded, gold encrusted 3GS which naturally would only reasonably fit into a Louis Vuitton alligator skin tote. Spiderman decals and iPod socks need not apply.

Unfortunately, a lot of geek companies have tapped into iPhone fashion (blink blink). A few mainstream companies have also tried; but God, since when has Nike been a fashionable company? In fact, most self-labelled ‘fashion’ accessories are hideous bits of functional pleather and rubber. Some even look like bacon. They are good for a laugh, but not fashionable unless the idea of fashionable tech has become so sullied by quick-buck visionaries, database-managers with a penchant for Adobe Illustrator, and dick towel mannequins that the industry has eroded to its basest parts: rubber and the smell of factories.

When truly fashion-friendly accessories hit market, they come with smile-shattering prices. Or too garishly garbed, they attain nothing more than the silly ranks of runway camera magnets, never to be used in public. So where is the middle ground? Affordably fashionable items, items which don’t attract geeks and gerbils. Items which look great with horizontally striped t-shirts? Items which look great both on the runway and hanging from the shoulder?

While I decry their lack; while my suppressed inner fashionista begs for realistically priced, fashionably designed accessories for the iDevice and iPod, the geek side of me – that gullible audiophile tendency – scrutinises popularity. It reviles the ‘base’ desire to look good, to slip my feet into anything designed in Mediterranean countries. And despite my interest in Monster’s Vivienne Tam Butterfly earphones, it would recoil at the thought of butterflies stuffed in my sound holes.

The above is an example of a company trying to get a leg up on both geek and the fashionista pillars while maintaining parity in the fickle audiophile market. At 200$, the Butterfly headset is a bit pricey, but with cute critters on the sides, a designer label, and utility as a headset, it really blurs the lines of fashion and geek. With Monster’s speakers inside, they are bound to sound good too, unless, like the Beats Tour, they present a powerful wall of sound while sacrificing the details. But as much as designer earphones are a great idea, they don’t spell ‘gotta have it’ to either camp.

I’m gasping here. At 30 years of age and male (when did that happen – the age thing, not the male thing), and sporting a trimmed beard, a mildly receding hairline, both Portuguese and French shoes, a nice Casio calculator watch, a custom Marinoni bicycle, and an iPod touch, I consider myself moderately interested in esoteric hobbies. Somewhat adroitly, I hop back and forth between fashion, exercise, and tech geekiness, but I’m hardly an athlete; at classic Intel CPU parties, I don’t whip out an IBM Blue Lightning to generate discussion; and I don’t turn heads whilst walking down the streets of Seoul’s Gangnam district. If that avant-garde me which peaked when I did (at 24) ever comes back, I’ll need something fashionable but affordable for my Apple life. Currently, that item doesn’t really exist, at least not for the moderately fashionable person unless you hop to local design houses who kick out unique iDevice/iPod accessories at a rate of one per week.

When that item or range of items appears, I’ll buy. My membership at the local geek chapter will be cancelled, my audiophile tendencies questioned, and to be labelled a ‘sell out’, but a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.

Can’t wait.

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