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Marine Serre SS19 headphones trend
Marine Serre SS19Photography Christina Fragkou

Are headphones a legit fashion accessory now?

Margiela says yes – and it’s not the only one

Remember when iPods first came out? Ok yeah, me neither (it was 2001! 17 years ago!), but I do remember those early 00s campaigns featuring silhouettes dancing against brightly coloured backgrounds, each wearing a pair of white Apple headphones. With the perspective of time, these ads no longer look cool, but those white headphones will go down in the very long history of smart shit Apple did – if you think about it, the idea to change the cords from standard issue black to blaring white was a pretty brilliant marketing tactic. iPods were small, meant to be put in a pocket. So how else would Apple ensure everyone on the tube carriage or bus knew someone was listening to an iPod rather than some crummy prehistoric CD walkman (remember those!?) 

While Apple has since ceased production of all models apart from the iPod touch (RIP trusty Classic), those white headphones have become an indelible part of the brand’s design aesthetic. In 2016, they went wireless in the form of AirPods – which people were genuinely disparaging about (complaining that they looked like tampons and toothbrush heads, and would be too easily lost – amongst other things).

And yet... something weird is happening. White headphones, both wired and wireless, are becoming an unignorable fashion statement, possibly for the first time since those 00s ads. But why? We have some thoughts.

THEY’VE BEEN SHOWING UP AT FASHION WEEK

Credit goes to Marine Serre for this one. Back for her AW18 fashion week debut, the LVMH Prize winner incorporated white headphones into her ‘futurewear’ collection, described as “a splicing of fragments from contemporary life with futuristic references”. In other words, her models wore clothes that mixed the everyday with the high-tech – garments had special pockets for lipsticks and water bottles, and fabrics were sporty and technical. Some models donned the headphones again for her motocross inspired SS19 show, with the wires disappearing into specially-created holes. Meanwhile, Maison Margiela introduced a way to push your headphone game to the next level – in John Galliano’s first co-ed show, the brand debuted iridescent metallic covers which clip on to your existing earbuds. 

PEOPLE HAVE BEEN MAKING THEM LOOK GOOD

All it takes for something previously not fashionable to become fashionable? Some cool people to get behind it. From Russian model Sever to runway queen Adesuwa, AirPods especially have become Instagram bait. Maybe it's because they fit so well into selfies? Instagram has supposedly been responsible for a boom in sales of earrings – headphones are a logical next step.

THEY TIE INTO TODAY’S HIGH TECH, BODYHACKING FUTURISM 

One of 2018’s most dominant trends has been a coming together of wo/man and machine, as designers have explored ideas of evolution and pushed forward visions which consider the future potential of humankind. We’ve seen pregnant male models (Xander Zhou), models with computer chip-style stick-on jewellery (Dior), and of course, 3D rendered Instagram influencers. While Google Glass may be no more, the future is looking increasingly AI. And really, the high-tech look of headphones fits right in with this year’s trend.