Hewlett-Packard's Sneak Peek at Fashion Week

Posted by: Reena Jana on September 09, 2008

Tonight at 7pm at the New York runway presentation of fashion designer Vivienne Tam’s Spring 2009 clothing line, many of the models will strut down the catwalk carrying tiny Hewlett-Packard laptops instead of handbags. These deep-red computers, emblazoned with brightly-hued peony flower designs, will be presented as “accessories” and were designed by Tam in partnership with the PC giant. They mark the first high-fashion collaboration for HP and the first high-tech project for Tam (whom we’ve named to our list of powerful people in fashion). They’ll be offered in a limited edition in early 2009. Here’s a very early look:

tam.jpg

HP won’t disclose future pricing or even share the size or specifications of the PC, only saying that it is the size of a clutch-style purse. Could this be a sneak peek at future product lines? Yes, says David Roman, vice president, Marketing Communications, Personal Systems Group. “It’s aligned with and anticipates a product we’re developing in a new category that hasn’t been rolled out,” Roman adds. He will, however, say that the Vivienne Tam edition has a “smaller form factor” than most notebook PCs that HP has on the market today.

What’s intriguing about the Vivienne Tam project for HP is that Tam was involved in more than just the decorative aspects of the PC. She designed on-screen icons, a screensaver, and wallpaper for the computer, which are all currently available on Glam.com. The peony design on the exterior of the PC is also carried through underneath the keyboard. And she also designed the packaging for the future product, says Roman. Initially, he says, the deal was for Tam to just design the PC itself.

HP learned some interesting innovation lessons from Tam. One, Tam’s precise vision for the computer’s design helped its in-house industrial designers learn what was possible in terms of how complex patterns and chic colors can be achieved using HP’s current supply chain. “We use a technique that can build a design into the plastic, so it’s molded into the plastic as a computer is built,” says Roman. “It’s not painted on. We saw that we could use our sophisticated supply chain to do this and keep it at a competitive, aggressive price point.” Two, they also considered how to build buzz around a new notebook computer outside of the typical tech showcases (like CES) and target a specific consumer (in this case, “fashionista moms,” as Roman calls them, women who want a small, stylish, and affordable computer).

Of course, we all know that personal electronics such as iPhones, BlackBerrys, and Jawbone headsets are all rapidly becoming “lifestyle” accessories. But let’s stay tuned and see how HP’s flirtation with the fashion world pans out, and what surprising future innovation narratives the company might experience by its new focus on style.

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Reader Comments

Squeezebox

September 10, 2008 12:59 PM

If you can't make it cheaper or better, make it prettier. Same old notebook. :(

Squash TheSqueeZeBox

September 11, 2008 01:12 AM

soooo when did breaking into new markets, and getting more wallet share become a sad face? Especially when its a great company like HP. The name of the game is making money... you are fooling yourself if you dont believe giants think the same. While HP is known for innovation this is a clear marketing strategy that will help win recognition for other great triumphs.

Perspective

September 11, 2008 11:52 AM

wow - Squeezebox must be a frustrated dell employee with stock options in the tank. but then again they never had a creative inkling in their corporate bones. just copy others.

son

September 11, 2008 07:47 PM

so small for what, already got a smartphone

Sandy

September 11, 2008 08:22 PM

I agree, nicely done exterior with a size format that is very intriguing. However, it's still limited by it's OS--Vista. That's why Apple wins the end game. Besides their innovative AND stylish designs, OS X is both svelte, fun AND functional.

steve

September 15, 2008 04:44 AM

Apple sucks! Windows and Windows Mobile Smartphone are the best. Windows Mobile Smartphone beats Iphone 3G lack of features. Oh wonder why so many people complaint about Iphone 3G bugs and many problems like slow 3G connection. Some 3G maybe apple can call it 56k speed :)
Windows Mobile Smartphone been using 3G for 2yrs now. I guess we all know which Mobile phone is Smarter. You guess it Windows Mobile ;)-

Jen

September 17, 2008 08:57 PM

Will be great for traveling professionals.

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