Nearly every company at the Action Sports Retailer show (ASR) seemed to be hooking-up some sort of collaboration — from DVS shoes photo-printed insoles and packaging to Retail Mafia-designed Boost Mobile phones sold in briefcases with accessories. Among the many ventures, the Gravis' Black Box Collection stood out for aesthetics, durability, and usefulness.
Black Box is Gravis’ limited collection of shoes, bags and accessories available only through premium retailers and boutiques. Each season they work with top musicians, artists, or designers from around the world to create a line of unique and yet ultimately highly-functional products. For the fall/winter 2006 Black Box Collection, Gravis teamed up with top DJs A-Trak, Kid Millionaire, and T.Raumschmiere to create an impressive line of DJ bags with coordinating shoes and accessories.
The focus of the line is on the DJ Wheelie (pictured above and below right), DJ Gig (pictured right), and DJ Messenger (pictured below left) bags. They look great and have the quality construction and sturdy materials found across the Gravis lines. Functional features developed through the input of the DJs create the optimum DJ travel accessories. DJ Wheelie, the Cadillac of the line, features a spacious 150-record holding compartment with multiple access points (designed to allow crate-like record organizing), and, for easier mobility, a telescoping handle and skateboard wheels. The medium bag shares many features with the larger bag, including multiple storage areas, padding in all the important places, a special compartment for a Serato Scratch Live Unit, and another for a 15” laptop. The DJ Messenger Bag holds 50 records and includes a catch-all pocket, making it ideal for running errands and stopping by your fave vinyl store. Bonus: medium and small bags have special sleeves for docking onto the big bag. A DJ friend of mine was duly impressed with the features and thought they would make shlepping gear a lot easier.
The Black Box Collection also includes a pair of kicks, sweatshirt, tee, and hat. Available in mid and low versions, the shoe, called Omega, uses BAPESTA-like colored patent leather. (Pictured below.) The black-on-black, subtly patterned zip-up hoodie, shirt, and new era hat also show the downtown influence with a design of turntables, iPods, Napster-ish head outlines, digital cameras, and Gravis logos.
The winning combo of features, details, and construction make Gravis’ Black Box collection a unique mix of style, quality, and function, surpassing competitors' good-looking, but less useful output. Gravis successfully merged their bag-making expertise and real-life experience of some well-traveled DJs to make products sure to be valued in a niche market. They're also competitively-priced and, unlike some collaborations, the bags aren't limited in production. Due out mid-June, they'll be available in select stores whose clients will be stoked on these bags. I hope other companies will follow suit in creating collaborations that are as functional as they are stylish.
by Andrew Potash