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Urbanears blends fashion, headphones

Urbanears is a Scandinavian start-up that realizes headphones are for more than just music, as they've become a lifestyle fashion accessory.

Leave it to the Scandinavians to create headphones that stand alone as works of art. Urbanears is a start-up from Stockholm, Sweden, that designs aesthetically pleasing headphones--but dig a little deeper and you discover a company with a greater mission.


Zound Industries, Urbanears' parent company, realizes the integration of fashion and technology and sees that headphones can strengthen a brand. It's not the first, as the rise of mobile devices has encouraged the creation of unique, personalized headphones. SkullCandy did this by creating hundreds of one-of-a-kind headphones recognizable from a distance.

But Zound is doing something different. Besides developing the Urbanears brand, it has partnered with Marvel, Hello Kitty, Fame, and Star Wars to design headphones that fans might wear as a reflection of their personality. Moreover, these brands are stronger by selling a product that seemingly everyone needs--headphones more exciting than the ol' earbuds.

At launch, Urbanears will sell only three headphones. The Plattan is a sleek, classic headphone that folds down to the size of a fist. Its best feature, though, is the Zound Plug on the ear cap; your friend can plug in and listen to your music. The Tanto is an over-the-ears headphone reminiscent of the 80s style, with no special features but good sound and practicality. The third is Medis, an in-ear headphone with a fabric cord and structure that anchors the earpiece securely. Go ahead, jump as much as you want--they're staying put.

The Scandinavian team worked for the last 18 months around the clock and finally brought Urbanears public two weeks ago. Plans for Zound Industries include concept stores and mobile booths.They have agents in 16 countries, but the brainpower comes from eight young men who say "yes, we could use more women around here."

Look out for the release of Urbanears in early December 2009. Until then, you may drool over the headphones in the catalog.