Fashion Victims

Looking at my photo, you might think that fashion, even dress sense, passed me by some time ago. Browse through my wardrobe and you could be surprised.

It’s true that you won’t find any jeans; I think it is about 40 years since I last had any jeans, as I got them soaked by rain a couple of times and realised how impractical they are. Neither will you find trousers with their crotch dangling towards knee-level, as has lately become popular, because you can neither walk nor cycle properly in them.

You will find lots of Gore-Tex®, eVent™, and Lycra®, though.

The first two are my mainstays for outdoor waterproof clothing, the third is the cyclist’s equivalent of denim. They may be highly functional, but they are equally fashionable in the right circles. For example a couple of anniversaries ago I bought my wife a stunning blue Gore-Tex jacket with the exclusive Arc’teryx label, at the sort of price you might pay for a fashionable evening gown.

Computers and related devices like iPhones and iPads are also a fashion market in themselves. Not only have we chosen a fairly exclusive fashion label in Apple, but we engage in all sorts of accessorising too.

The more nerdy may vaunt the fact that they are running the latest developer release of Yosemite, even if only half their apps still work. Others may have rushed out and bought one of the few Thunderbolt peripherals so that they can brag about its speed.

But the most fashion-centric field of them all is how you personalise and protect your portable kit, be it MacBook plain, Pro, Air, iPod, iPhone, or iPad.

Most Apple and other retailers fill more shelf space with covers, cases, rucsacs, sleeves, screen protectors, and the other alluring apparel that we dress our devices with, than they devote to software. Now that we can buy almost anything digital through an online store, this perhaps makes sense, but try downloading a neoprene sleeve!

One of fashion’s pre-requisites is periodic change. Black ribbed rubber might be so last year, and you know that next year brushed metal will be out again. This is aided and abetted by frequent switches in form factor: although we at last seem to be stabilising on docks and connectors, you know that the next iPads and iPhones will not fit today’s cases. When you go to buy your next models, you will also simply have to walk out with a new wardrobe for them.

Another characteristic is absence of support problems, ensuring optimal profits to everyone in the supply chain. Computer clothing is even better than regular fashion apparel here, as there is no need for discreet fitting rooms, or contested exchanges when a slim fit size 10 turns out to be smaller than a regular size 8.

Indeed, sizism may actually work in reverse, with the over-proud loudly asking for a sleeve for their new 15” MacBook Pro, only to wrap it around a battered old 13” MacBook once they get home. Some apparently make their entire purchasing decision backwards, finding a case that looks right first, and letting that determine which model they must buy to pad it out.

The traditional fashion houses have been strangely slow to recognise this lucrative sector, though. I was disappointed that Mappin & Webb seemed unable to tempt me with a luxurious leather iPad case, for instance, and that Piquadro seems the height of luxury that Apple’s stores would wish me to yearn for.

Then along comes the Watch: Apple’s aspiration in the fashion market.

Yes, I know it is not really a watch, but an iPhone extension. But now Apple has realised that they can take the exact same internals, dress them in a gold cover, slap a gorgeously haute couture strap on it, and charge you £13,500. Now that’s what I call a case.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 27 issue 18, 2011.