Headphones are perhaps the most obvious place for high fashion and tech to collaborate — a statement pair can have the same “stop and stare” impact on pristine runways and grungy subways alike. Beats by Dr. Dre has long been the poster child for this powerful sync of sound and style, debuting products created with high profile names including Fendi, Alexander Wang, and the queen of cutesy cool, Hello Kitty herself.
Today, the brand officially announced its newest design partner: Balmain. Creative director spearheaded two special edition takes on Beats’ Powerbeats3 Wireless and Beats Studio Wireless headphones. The former is an in-ear style that is built for workouts while the latter is Beats’ classic over-ear statement maker.
Balmain’s custom designs come in either "Safari," a tannish color, and "Khaki," a military green shade, and have gold metallic touches on the ear pieces and over-ear band. A suede case houses the headphones with the Balmain logo and coin zipper pull. If you had any doubt these are headphones intended for a cool kid audience, you need only look to the ad campaign, which stars Kylie Jenner.
There are no jazzy tech additions to the existing headphone models, but that isn’t the point of most fashion-tech collaborations. The focus here is on design inspiration, not new audio upgrades — and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Ahead of today’s release, Refinery29 chatted via email with Rousteing about all things music, Instagram, and working with Kylie Jenner.
What made you want to collaborate with Beats and how did the partnership come about?
“Anyone who’d been following the story so far already knows that music forms an essential component of Balmain’s singular style. That simply reflects how my generation grew up — for us, music and fashion have always been completely intertwined and inseparable. I cannot conceive of one without a full helping of the other. It’s obvious that Beats gets that.”
What's the inspiration behind the "urban safari" theme?
“Over the years, safari, exploration and discovery have been repeated themes in Balmain collections. Of course, that reflects the spirit of the house — freedom and an openness to what is new are core Balmain values, and they are what lie behind the diverse Balmain Army's eagerness to explore, learn, set off to new worlds. Sand and khaki, traditional tones of safaris, reflect that theme — and they also correspond to colors that have been key to past collections. And, of course, the gold touches highlight Balmain’s singular history as one of Paris’ historic houses.”
How did you decide to work with Jenner?
“Beats is so connected to today’s younger generation and [Kylie] is a great symbol of that generation. She reflects their values and how they live today, with her honesty and her frank willingness to enjoy life. I am always struck by her genuineness — she expresses the values of today’s youth as well as any musician I could have chosen. Besides, she’s beautiful and incredibly professional — I knew she would do a great job representing a project that is so important to me.”
How has music played an important role in your life and career?
“Music is always there. It always accompanies me. The songs my team and I have blaring in the background as we work on the many collections inevitably seeps into our creative process. The music always pushes me to create, think, expand on new ideas and inspirations.”
What's the song you want to work to? Wake up to? Fall asleep to?
"Wake up to: Ed Sheeran — 'Shape of You'
"Work to: Michael Jackson — 'They Don’t Care About Us'
"Go To Sleep to: Barbra Streisand — 'Prisoner'"
Who's your favorite person to text with and why?
“I love having long, never-ending conversations with my family and good friends – I love those conversations that carry on for days and days, and it’s always great when a funny response pops up at the most unexpected time, from a friend waking up or returning home in another time zone.”
“Good lights, good friends, and a good mood!”