These days it seems like every brand makes headphones. Only they don't. Most brands outsource the engineering and audio work to a third-party company, slap their name on it, and call it a day. Others call upon a talented audio house with which they work closely to develop a product that matches the ideals and identity of their brand. That's what Diesel did for its new VEKTR headphones. For its first headphone, the storied fashion brand tapped Monster—the company first responsible for the Beats by Dr. Dre line—and collaborated deeply to produce a pair of light, over-ear headphones that deliver great, round, balanced sound.
At the VEKTR launch event held in NYC last week, we got the opportunity to sit down with Diesel's Stefano Rosso and the head Monster himself Noel Lee to talk about how the collaboration came about, why the two companies are a good fit, and why everyone needs a pair of good headphones.
I wanted to talk to both of you about the approach, the idea for the headphones, and how you guys decided on the sound.
Stefano Rosso: The sound we wanted to create for Diesel was a very full sound. Very dynamic. We wanted the headphones to give a warm, quality feel to all of your music. That’s what we wanted to achieve. We wanted to do something that’s never been done in headphones before. These headphones sound amazing. We expe
The headphones are so light and compact. Most headphones that achieve similar sound are much larger and more lumbering. These feel light and comfortable
Noel Lee: Yes, they’re really lightweight and it’s not really a big form-factor. It’s a smaller form-factor so women can also wear it because women don’t like wear big headphones. It’s a good experience for everybody.
How did you guys decide on the design of the headphones?
S: Most of the idea behind the design is black and mixed. We did it like that because we wanted to go against some of the rules of design. Mostly, speakers are all rounded with softer curves. We wanted to make something that went against this trend. So, we started to draw them with more drastic corners that look like rocks. And then we wanted to mix materials, so we go from metal to hard plastic—those are hard materials. But then there are soft materials on the other side. And that’s how it came about: Us going against some of the rules in the game. That’s what we do at Diesel.
N: The tagline we have for the product is: If your eyes could hear, that’s what music would look like. So it’s an expectation. When you see it, you know it’s going to be something different.
Our goal is to educate consumers about the joy of high-quality sound as it relates to the joy of listening to music. So if you hear the music clearer, you hear it more accurately, you hear vocals, you get closer to the person that’s performing, close to what the musicians really wanted to create. -- Noel Lee
Talk to me about the lightness. I didn't expect them to be so light.
N: Usually when you hear a lot of bass you got big drivers. You can look at how ergonomic these are, the cups are shaped like an ear. This is a ground-up design. We didn’t use anything we used in the past. We used new designs and new materials. You heard how loud they play. They’re really dynamic.
Stefano, what made you guys go with Monster?
S: We looked at different brands and different companies, but we looked around and we started meeting people and once we met Noel it was just a natural fit. First of all, the quality of the products that they make, everybody knows it. Then we get to meet the people and understand the values behind the company and the brand. It’s very similar to Diesel. They’re willing to really strive for innovation. The idea of new rules in the game, it’s something that we have in common. Plus, the companies both started in the same year, in ‘78. They’re both family-owned business. It was a natural fit. And they were willing to invest in the design and take time to make the right product. It’s the perfect marriage.
These are apart of the Diesel Noise Division. What are you goals for that? A lot of fashion brands have delved into the headphone game in the past three to five years. What made you want to do this now?
S: It’s very simple. We are a lifestyle brand. In our lifestyle, music is very important. That’s why for the last 11 years we’ve invested in a program called Diesel U Music where we support up-and-coming artists. It was time to evolve this into something new, something different. Something that’s started with the VEKTR, that we hope to develop further with Monster, something more big and more important. Because we believe music is apart of our lifestyle and the lifestyle of our consumer, so we want to give them something that they could wear and something that could be apart of their everyday lifestyle. This is the perfect product to start.
We are able to do products that are not our core product... we are able to give them a distinctive type of design and distinctive type of look. That’s what we do with our watches, with our glasses. It’s what we look for—to try and re-write the rules of the game. With Monster it came very easy because that’s what they do every day. With their quality and our design it just works perfectly.
When it comes to bringing high-end audio to people who would otherwise never think of it, the Monster name always comes up. Is that a goal of the company?
N: Our goal is to educate consumers about the joy of high-quality sound as it relates to the joy of listening to music. So if you hear the music clearer, you hear it more accurately, you hear vocals, you get closer to the person that’s performing, close to what the musicians really wanted to create. That’s our passion. I used to be an audiophile with huge speakers in my living room. In the last 10 years the audiophile has gone away. The lady of the house says, I want a plasma TV and get those big speakers out of my room. The kids growing up in the last 10 years have not really been exposed to something that’s really high quality. They listen to the white earbuds that come with their phones and with their iPods. So we’re exposing them to what real music should sound like.
It’s beyond just an audio product. That’s why the collaboration with a lifestyle brand like Diesel exposes it to more people. And as they become more exposed, you’ll find more people saying, “I’ve never heard my music like that before. I’m going to go back and listen to all my old songs.” They’re going to rediscover their music. Headphones now are lifestyle products.
Stefano, when you went to Monster, did you know what kind of sound you wanted specifically?
S: We were looking for something very deep and round and we knew Monster was going to be able to deliver that. They’re the experts.
N: They’re music lovers. They do a lot with music. And so it’s really: Make the music sound better. That was the goal.
S: I think they took the challenge. For us, it was easy to come up with the design. For them, the challenge was to take the quality and put it into something smaller. The first time I tried them I was surprised. I’m a user of the Beats by Dr. Dre and I have to say they sound the same and they’re much smaller. It’s really revolutionary. It’s really great.
Would it be safe to assume that in-ear headphones coming next?
N: You can assume that.