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Gucci serves up Apple iPod a la mode

Gucci creates a $195 case for the music player, joining fashion retailers in selling to owners looking for a hip--if costly--way to holster their iPod.

The iPod is making its way from the subway to the runway.

As part of its spring line, fashion label Gucci is selling a $195 carrying case designed specifically for Apple Computer's popular music player. At that price, the ebony-and-beige, coated-canvas case costs nearly as much as an iPod itself.

Gucci's iPod case

While clearly a niche play, the case appears to be popular among its intended clientele. It is sold out at the Beverly Hills Gucci store, but there are a few left in New York. The San Jose, Calif., store has one left, according to a representative, having sold four of the cases since they arrived a few months back.

Although the iPod itself is considered by some to be the pinnacle of style, there is a definite market for hip ways to holster the device. Apple's minimalist design with the iPod may have helped spur the market.

"Something that is white and stainless steel allows you to apply a lot of personalization," said Danika Cleary, an iPod product manager. Cleary noted that a recent issue of Harper's Bazaar fashion magazine had three of four celebrities listing the iPod as one of the items in their purse.

"We've totally infiltrated the fashion world," Cleary said. "It's not surprising the fashion designers are picking up on it."

Gucci, which debuted its case earlier this year, is not the only high-fashion label to offer an iPod add-on.

"Prada also does a case for iPod," Cleary said. "I actually was lucky enough to get my hand on one the last time I was in New York."

Coach and Emilio Pucci also sell iPod holsters, as does Aneta Genova, a New York-based line that specializes in fashion for technology gear.

Gucci's iPod purse may be at the high end of what most consumers go for, but there appears to be a large market for bags, cases and plastic skins to protect and transport the iPod. Apple's research shows that at various times, add-on cases have been selling at a rate greater than one for each iPod.

Some of the cases are designed to show off the iPod's design, while others, like the Gucci case, make a statement of their own. "It completely encloses the iPod and lets the Gucci logo and the Gucci brand be the statement," Cleary said.

Indeed, there has long been a cottage industry for products that serve as adornments to Cupertino's latest hot thing.

The Gucci case may be an indulgence, but it is not the priciest accessory that has come out to adorn the iPod. Among the more expensive add-ons was the $499 Burton Amp--a snowboarding jacket that featured built-in, waterproof controls for the iPod, with the music player itself stowed safely away from the cold.

Those looking for the Gucci case specifically may soon have some additional options. Until now, the case has been available only at select U.S. Gucci stores, but the company expects it to soon land on shelves of upscale department stores.