With no end in sight to the iPod craze, everyday clothing makers are offering a growing selection of apparel designed so consumers can easily carry their digital music players without getting their wires tangled.
For years, sports apparel manufacturers and haute couture brands have sold Apple Computer Inc.’s (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) iPod-friendly products, but now mainstream clothing manufacturers are hoping to cash in on the trend.
Los Angeles-based manufacturer Kenpo, for example, made a big push at the Magic Marketplace fashion trade show in Las Vegas last week as it showcased a line of light- and heavier-weight outdoor jackets with the iPod control on the outside sleeve.
Kenpo, which has a license with Apple, offers its jackets with a fabric insert and a built-in chip so that consumers can change the controls of their iPods on the outside of the garment’s sleeve while the music player is tucked safely away inside.
A men’s anorak and a polar-fleece and nylon jacket in black and stainless steel will be first available at Macy’s stores in San Francisco in November for prices ranging from $275 to $350.
The jackets are only compatible with iPod, but Kenpo says it may eventually offer clothing that functions with other MP3 players and electronic gadgets in an increasingly tech-driven world.
Kenpo Vice President Joel Bernstein said buyers visiting the company’s booth at the trade show were initially confused by the jackets — until they realized the potential marriage between mainstream fashion and technology.
“If you’re going to start anywhere, you start with the iPod,” Bernstein said.
That’s logical, considering Apple says it has sold more than 21 million iPods, and industry analysts estimate the brand accounts for about three-quarters of all digital music players sold in the United States this year.
By Alexandria Sage and Michael Kahn