En Vogue, Headphones Can’t Be ‘Beat’

Eric Lim/New University

By Kristine Hoang

Parka jackets and desert boots have definitely been popular trends this fall, but so have headphones. With the constant influx of midterms and essays, headphones have been seen all around study lounges and libraries.

Some are simple, but others amp up outfits. Take the underground DJ or indie look, for instance. By wearing stylish headphones around the head or even the neck, anyone could look like a serious music junkie. Whether the motive is to look like an electronic music hobbyist or a person who looks up the latest albums on their spare time, it all depends on the rest of the outfit.

For those who enjoy hip hop, wearing headphones pays respect to hip hop music and fashion. For indie kids, headphones help to emulate the coveted looks of Natalie Portman in the film Garden State and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer.

In general, headphones provide individuals with a space to display and emphasize parts of their identity, through the combination of sight (the visual presence of headphones) and sound (the types and genres of music itself).  Stylish headphones can indicate lifestyle.

One popular brand of headphones being worn on campus is Beats by Dr. Dre, the lovechild of American record producer and executive Dr. Dre and chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records Jimmy Iovine. It was founded in 2008.

The headphones have made appearances in music videos, movies, and advertisements — such as the music videos of Korean pop sensations Big Bang and 2NE1, and American hip-hop group Far East Movement. Celebrities who are constantly being watched by style editors, like Katie Holmes and L.A.M.B. designer Gwen Stefani, have also been spotted wearing Beats.

Besides their claim of delivering super-deep bass and crystal clear vocals, Beats also delivers pleasing aesthetics.  They are minimalist in design, lacking flashy prints prominent in some other headphones marketed towards stylish folk. Their signature “b” logo is imprinted on their ear pads and earplugs.

Iovine, placing a strong importance on design, had hired design expert Robert Brunner at Ammunition Group to create Beats’ look and feel. Brunner was formerly the top design executive at Apple Inc., preceding iPod designer Jonathan Ive.  He was recently listed in Fast Company’s 100 most creative people.

For people who love to color-coordinate, Beats, which come in a variety of colors, allows them to do just that. With colors ranging from pink to silver, Beats could be worn to match both MP3 players and outfits.  For instance, “JustBeats” by Dr. Dre headphones, the collaboration between Justin Bieber and Beats, could be worn to match purple shoes or a purple detail on a T-shirt, since the earphones themselves are purple.

That being said, Beats has an Artists Series, which is its collaboration series with celebrities like Lady Gaga and P. Diddy, who both happen to be names in the fashion industry. “Heartbeats,” which features studs, is the name for Lady Gaga’s Beats headphones.  For fans of Gaga style, the studs are reminiscent of the singer’s studded Hermes Birkin bag and many studded black leather jackets.

P. Diddy’s Beats headphones are called “Diddybeats,” which feature a “db” logo instead of the classic Beats “b” logo.  Though primarily known for being a hip hop artist, P. Diddy is the head of his sportswear fashion line, Sean John.

Beats is not the only headphone company focused on trendy aesthetics.  Five years before Beats’ debut, Skullcandy emerged as a design-conscious brand of headphones.

Thought Beats and Skullcandy were enough for fashion? Imagine studying with the crystal brand Swarovski’s Fashion Rocks DJ Headphones, which are encrusted in Amethyst Crystals and priced at $2404.