British fashion designer Richard Nicoll wanted to create an electric atmosphere at his catwalk show at London Fashion Week this weekend. He did that, in part, by debuting a rechargeable handbag that can power your cell phone.
The cutting-edge accessory merges style with practicality, and gives fashion-conscious cell phone users the freedom to zip between fashion shows and boutiques without worrying that their smartphones will run out of juice.
Designed in conjunction with Vodafone, the battery-powered bag can, when fully charged, provide energy for iPhones, iPads, Androids and BlackBerry devices for several days. Users simply plug their gadget into a discrete pocket inside the bag. A Bluetooth-enable LED “charm” hangs on its exterior, and flashes to indicate incoming calls. The bag itself does not ring, so ushers needn’t worry about asking people to turn off their handbags.
“We wanted to create a collaborative product that fused fashion and technology,” Nicoll told TIME after his runway presentation on Sunday. “The recharging bag is especially relevant for my collection this season, because it’s about the notion of work and all its facets in modern times.”
The bag isn’t as clunky as you might think, and it won’t weigh down the wispy-young-things carrying it. There isn’t an unsightly external socket either: users charge the bag by attaching a magnetic adapter to the bag’s exterior.
Its debut at London Fashion Week has resonance for the thousands of journalists, bloggers, stylists, and PR aficionados cramming into runway shows. Their personal brands depend on getting their thoughts and opinions out quickly. “With all the tweeting, Instagramming, and Foursquaring I do all day, my iPhone and iPad always run out of juice,” says Claire Sulmers, editor-in-chief of the influential blog The Fashion Bomb. “Fashion people need to be fully loaded. After attending and live tweeting three or four shows, your battery is already depleted.”
The ability to tweet a runway look to her 20,000 followers the moment it heads down the catwalk—rather than when she’s back at the hotel—is the difference between gaining 50 new followers and having her message disappear into the Twittersphere.
It’s no wonder that fashion journalists stampede to electrical outlets like bulls rather than ladies. As such, Vodafone installed chargers on the front row of every London Fashion Week venue this year. That’s a feat that hasn’t yet been achieved in Milan, New York or Paris.
Given that every socket includes a discrete Vodafone logo, that’s good for Vodafone’s branding. But it’s also good for those lucky enough to sit ringside. As Elle UK tweeted over the weekend: “We are loving the front row phone chargers at #LFW #lifesave”.