(article orginally in Forbes)

Will This Swedish Wearable Tech Start-Up Become The Next Beats By Dre?

I’ve always fundamentally hated the concept of “wearable technology”. I’m surrounded by tech in every facet of my life already, so call me stubborn that I want to keep fashion one of the last sacred spaces where my personal style decisions have nothing to do with function.Courtesy Of YNOIRCourtesy Of YNOIRCourtesy Of YNOIRCourtesy Of YNOIR

Then my wife reminded me that I always have my headphones on. For as long as I can remember, I’ve liked the idea of my life having a private soundtrack. It’s also every writer’s prerogative to tune out all disturbances—I’m thinking specifically about my neighbor’s weed whacker right now which is buzz-sawing outside of my office window while I’m trying to write this story. Beats By Dr. Dre revolutionized the whole concept of wearable, audio technology, capitalizing on the desire of a new generation to tune life out (“What I didn’t hear you?”). Apple’s recent $3 billion Beats acquisition solidified any doubt that there’s a global market for a fashionable way to ignore people.Courtesy Of YNOIRCourtesy Of YNOIR

Courtesy Of YNOIR

But I’m not LeBron James looking to pump myself up before Game 4 of the NBA Finals, and bright red digital earmuffs will never find their way into my wardrobe. Most fashion models and stylish celebs I suspect would agree.

“Beats has done an amazing marketing job,” says Patrik Slettman, one of three founders of the Swedish audio start-up YNOIR. “Millions of Millennials around the world have adopted Beats as a fashion accessory. But not everyone is comfortable sporting big over-the-ear headphones. We’re not all professional athletes psyching ourselves up for the big game. Most of us are regular people on our way to catch the subway to work, meeting friends after school, or just talking on the phone while strolling around in the city. We want to help people look fashionable and elegant listening to music or talking on the phone while doing every day things.”

Courtesy Of YNOIRCourtesy Of YNOIRCourtesy Of YNOIRCourtesy Of YNOIR

Courtesy Of YNOIR

After two years of research and development, YNOIR’s headphones officially hit the market next week June 14 in Florence, Italy, at the world-famous Italian fashion fair Pitti Uomo, and will be sold through hand-picked fashion and accessory retailers in Stockholm, New York City, Miami, and London, as well as online at YNOIR.com.

YNOIR’s disruptive approach to the existing market for wearable audio coalesces around a central focal point where the cords meet, instead of up by ear buds, which results in an elegant piece of audio-jewelry hanging visibly on the wearer's chest in either yellow, rose, or white 18K gold.

Courtesy Of YNOIRCourtesy Of YNOIR

Courtesy Of YNOIR

YNOIR’s strategic decision to debut their headphones in Italy in the ears of well-dressed fashionistas isn’t accidental since the key to their business model is striking that fine balance between personal style and audio experience.

"Our headphones make a bold fashion statement in an elegant way but we are equally proud of the sound which has been two years in the making from an engineering standpoint", says Slettman. "No matter what type of music you listen to, music is emotion and attitude. We feel this should be reflected in the way you listen to it as a personal statement."

Courtesy Of YNOIRCourtesy Of YNOIR

Courtesy Of YNOIR

LeBron won’t be wearing a pair of YNOIR headphones in his pre-game warm up for the NBA Finals (this year) but celebrity brand ambassadorship is definitely on Slettman’s radar.

“We have talked to a couple celebrities already”, Slettman tells me. “I recently showed a pair of our earphones to a famous model and she flipped over them so that’s definitely part of our strategy. Giving love to those who love what we’re doing.”

Apple and other investors might just want to keep a close eye on these guys. Each pair of YNOIR headphones will have a starting retail price of $300.