While headphones like Beats and Master & Dynamic have become their own kind of fashion statement, the latest headphone manufacturer on the market is banking on subtler approach. New Normal puts fashion before tech with a sleek adjustable leather pair that fits behind the head.
New York-based New Normal marks the second iteration of the company Normal, which ex-Quirky designer Nikki Kaufman launched in 2014 with a mission of making customizable 3-D printed headphones. The process for the original version was simple: Customers snapped a photo of their ears using Normal's app, which converted them into renderings to be 3-D printed and shipped to customers' doors. Kaufman and her team used the data they gathered during that process to come up with over 30 different sizes for New Normal headphones, and will offer a similar photo-based sizing service for determining each customer's perfect fit here.
Now those customized earbuds come in a stylish package. New Normal is launching with two different editions: the business casual Suit Edition and the workout-centered Sweat Edition. Both are bluetooth connected so there are no cumbersome wires, and have an adjustable piece that fits snuggly around the ear so the earbuds don't fall out. There's even a cleverly hidden USB port for charging on the go (the battery lasts eight hours). Despite all of the integrated technology, the headphones give off the feel of high-end accessory rather than a piece of gear. The Suit Edition, for example, is made with premium leather and even the waterproof, silicon Sweat Edition looks pretty chic.
Wearable technology is finally starting to give equal weight to style and technology, after many false starts. Tech companies pairing with the likes of Hermes and Tory Burch have established that customers don't have to compromise fashion for the ability to stay connected. With New Normal, the headphone industry is catching up.
Pre-order the Suit Edition New Normal headphones for $199 here.