By  on April 2, 2009

Junior women’s action sports brand Roxy will launch a line of cobranded headphones this spring with audio components maker JBL featuring bold, colorful designs that are a far cry from the sleek but subdued styles usually found in electronics stores.

In colors such as hot pink or lime green and embellished with graphic prints, the Roxy headphones are meant to be as much a fashion statement as a piece of hardware.

“Our target consumer of young, active girls and women want their electronics to look as good as they sound, so this partnership made a lot of sense,” said Kenna Florie, vice president of marketing at Roxy Americas, a division of Huntington Beach, Calif.-based Quiksilver Inc.

The Roxy initiative comes after several other youth-oriented fashion brands jumped into the audio headphones market. Swedish streetwear maker WeSC launched a line of branded headphones in July 2007. Its offering has grown from four models the first season to 15 models for fall, with almost 100 colorways now available. In December, Encinitas, Calif.-based accessories maker Nixon introduced a collection of headphones, also geared toward the fashion streetwear crowd.

Rather than distributing their headphones through electronics chains, WeSC and Nixon go through fashion retailers. The Nixon models, priced from $40 to $200, are sold in specialty stores that also sell Nixon’s watches, wallets, bags and apparel, including Barneys Co-op items. The WeSC headphones retail from $32 to $200 and are in almost all of the company’s U.S. fashion accounts, including Urban Outfitters, Scoop, Ron Robinson, Colette and Karmaloop.

WeSC’s headphone sales grew 600 percent from 2007 to 2008, and last year’s sales have already been matched in the first three months of 2009, said company president Greger Hagelin. Headphones now account for more than 11 percent of the total WeSC business.

“We see headphones as like a great pair of sneakers or the perfect handbag,” Hagelin said.

At online fashion retailer Karmaloop, headphones bring in about $90,000 a month in sales, said Greg Selkoe, chief executive officer of the e-commerce site. It sells styles from WeSC, Nixon and SkullCandy, a fast-growing Salt Lake City-based company that makes audio accessories for the action sports consumer.

The Roxy headphones, which retail from $39.95 to $69.95, are to launch in Apple retail stores in May, followed by a rollout to electronics retailers, specialty fashion stores, Quiksilver stores and roxy.com. The launch will be supported by a print advertising campaign in Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Paper and Nylon magazines, as well as an online initiative.

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