Kenpo Creates Innovative iPod Jacket

Kenpo Inc., a downtown Los Angeles-based general clothing company, has unveiled their new Kenpo Jacket for iPod. The jacket will be available online at http://www.kenpofashion.com and at Macy’s department stores in California (locally at South Coast Plaza), New York and the surrounding areas for an MSRP of $275 at the end of the month.
The jacket will be available in two styles: an all-season hooded midweight coat with yellow stripes down the arm and a fleece-lined jacket with a different pocket orientation. Both jackets will also be available in silver and black.
The Kenpo Jacket for iPod, at first glance, looks like an ordinary jacket you might find hanging at Sports Chalet during ski season. Inside, however, is an iPod-shaped pocket and a cable that connects to the iPod’s headphone jack. The cable runs hidden from an interior pocket located next to the iPod pocket down to the left sleeve of the jacket. The fabric iPod switch sensor is located near the left jacket cuff, laid between the jacket’s innards, with the buttons laid out side-by-side along the forearm. The ‘smart fabric’ touch-sensitive iPod sensor, created and patented by the British company Eleksen, controls the iPod via the ribbon cable. Track and volume control is thus wholly available without unzipping the jacket.
The tiny iPod controller device that sits inside the jacket pocket is designed for third- and fourth- generation iPods and the iPod Mini. The third-generation models are those that have four touch-sensitive buttons above the scroll wheel, and the fourth-generation iPods are those with the gray (or red, as with the U2 model) click wheel. According to Kenpo, consumers can exchange the interface device for one compatible with the new iPod Nano and iPod Video for free, via mail.
Since the jacket is entirely made of fabric, aside from the easily removed iPod controller device, it is machine washable. The jacket also requires no batteries. Rather, it draws its power from the iPod.
While Kenpo’s Jacket for iPod is not the first marketed iPod jacket, it is the cheapest yet. Ski and snowboard company Burton debuted theirs, the $500 Burton Amp, in early 2003 in conjunction with Apple (Burton has since replaced the Amp Jacket with the Amp Backpack, which goes for $200).
Another ski company, the high-end brand Spyder, has been selling theirs online for the past few months at an incredible $3,000 with tax. Both alternatives are ski and snowboard jackets that have the iPod controls integrated into the jacket sleeve. Kenpo plans to expand the niche that Burton and Spyder set out to appease with lower prices, expanded distribution and, eventually, more styles.
Kenpo plans to release a women’s line of the Jacket for iPod as well as an active wear line that will focus on fashionable everyday items, such as track jackets. According to Kenpo’s project director Thomas Krutilek, the lines should be available in spring.
The iPod accessory market is a very selective one, with a plethora of third-party peripherals being released nearly every day. Kenpo hopes that their Jacket for iPod will not be overlooked by the casual iPod user. Additionally, the company hopes to expand what some might consider a niche reserved for tech-savvy gadget lovers. They believe that the jacket is the ultimate in form and function, and that it really is an exceptional product that the average person would enjoy. Timothy C. Nisimura, the jacket’s production coordinator, says that ‘the jacket is a perfect fit for the on-the-go lifestyle.’ Whether the iPod community at large will embrace the jacket remains to be seen.