Updating An Icon
The original Tracks was an icon for the brand, a beautiful and versatile headphone durable enough for the streets. So how do you update an icon?
The team focused on bringing a new level of purity into the design; an updated design that is truer to the original idea where the mechanical elements of the headphone are almost invisible. The updated design is elevated with premium materials and details, and the headphones are cast in new fashion-influenced hues.
The Color Process
The story behind the colors is a process that you don’t always hear much about. Color is powerful. It’s emotional and personal. Color is one of the primary methods people use to communicate who they are, and who they want to be, through what they wear.
A good color strategy starts with understanding the brand and consumer. Sol Republic had been a very youthful brand since its inception… but the team and I were trying to change that, and saw the brand starting to mature slightly to attract a sophisticated urban consumer. Previously we had a lot of confident bright colors in the palette like neons and bold solids and we started to look at how we wanted to evolve that. We wanted to have emotional colors with depth.
When we begin the process, we become social anthropologists. We’re researching cultural trends and shifts, and getting inspiration in as many places as we can. The designers look at the runway, what’s happening in product design, automotive, furniture and across as many industries as possible.
And we do a lot of traveling to absorb cultural influences. What people are wearing on the streets of Berlin or Hong Kong is more surprising and interesting sometimes than the runway. Then you go back into the lab, and build out your strategy.
It takes a lot of time to synthesize this into something concrete and then apply that to your brand.
The Color Strategy
We were designing a new Tracks headphone platform at the same time were crafting our color strategy, so it was the first place we applied our new colors.
For example, we were really interested in creating a signature blue color for our headphones. Our brand has a lot of energy built into it, and it’s (blue) an energizing color. At the time in the marketplace, blue headphones had become boring, it was becoming a staple color that was too conservative. We had these swatches of fabric that one of the designers had found during his travels and it was unlike the other blues we were seeing.
We started making samples, and sampled over 30 different hues until we got it right. The finished color that resulted had an astonishing level of depth of color, and looked great in every environment (outside, inside, at the office, etc…) Deep Blue was the result, an electrifying hue that is also urban as well. A blue for the future.
Custom Mixed Colors
Most of our colors are unique, and you won’t find off the shelf. We custom mixed each hue, sometimes spending 2-3 months to get the colors right. Each color is designed to complement the others, so they look great side-by-side.
The Tracks series continues to be a brand icon, it’s the first product most people think of when they think of SOL REPUBLIC. This updated design brings fresh energy into the lineup. This is the first product showcasing a new color direction for the brand, a cleaner look, and is a hint of more great things to come.
Written by Greg McNamara
Design Director, SOL REPUBLIC
Founder of Mast