It’s Dope, It’s Freaking, It’s Jammywammy…. It’s the Inimitable will.i.am.
Gathered at London’s Fashion Retail Academy STYLEetc were treated to an audience with will.i.am for the launch of his latest brainchild – the i.am+ foto.sosho, a camera accessory for iPhone. First, the name ‘foto sosho’, I know you are thinking ‘what?’ try saying ‘photo-social’ but in Will’s fun, slang infused lilt. Get it?
The revolutionary i.am+ and foto.sosho develop the current demand for social media and pocket technology. Part app and part hardwear, the foto.sosho is a camera accessory which clips onto the iPhone just like a case, transforming the iPhone into a sophisticated point and shoot digital camera. This offers on-board editing, filters, social media connectivity and a 14 mega pixel lens. To compliment the camera accessory and app there is also a chance for early buyers to acquire an i.am+ profile within the i.am domain. Each profile will include a unique short web URL (for example ‘http://i.am/STYLEetc). As the i.am products and services advance profile users will have access to new collaborative and social features, in Will’s words it “turbo-charges your iPhone”.
The Black Eyed Peas musician became animated as he described the journey which took him down the technology route. He has always been interested in science, technology, engineering and maths and was a part of the team behind the successful Beats by Dr Dre. He told a story about witnessing a model take a photo on her phone which within a short space of time went viral. Then he started playing around, holding a photographers lens up to his phone, joking at first about the possibility, which soon became a dream. The entire concept was turned around in a 12 month period as Will insisted the product be ready for Christmas.
will.i.am talked a lot about how he wanted to oversee not just the idea and the design, but the manufacture too. He is enthusiastic about getting young people into coding and technology, interested to see “who is going to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates?” He’d like to see more women in the industry too: “it should be my sister, or your sister”. Will calls technology “recession proof” since it was the one thing which grew during the down period, he does have a point with Apple reporting a 21% increase in profits this year (Guardian, July 2012).
The camera accessory can be worn around the neck and has been designed as a fashion item. will.i.am says he is excited to see people wearing it. Dressed all in black with thick rimmed gold glasses and gold necklaces, when he puts the accessory on you cannot deny it does look very cool. You can imagine it being embraced into urban street style, yet with the basic model retailing at £199 you have to question which kids exactly the product is aimed at. No doubt the price will not stop the Apple generation, with Chris Brown and Rihanna already being quoted as fans this takes celebrity endorsements to the next level.
STYLEetc asked will.i.am just how important the fashion aspect of the concept was, keeping in mind the many other celebrities who have entered the fashion market.
“Fashion is hard” he says, admitting that people from the industry who have tried to enter the market before have “tainted anybody else from music who wanted to do clothes”, that they “messed that up”. “Hey, there’s an artist doing clothes! You’re gonna ruin it and that’s the truth”. Instead he “wanted to do fashion with technology” since the “camera is synonymous with fashion” and this is “technology that’s wearable”.
However Will isn’t adverse to working with designers and hints that a special collaboration with a UK designer is in the pipe line for an up and coming camera bag range. There may also be a related TV show on the cards. One thing is for sure, will.i.am is certainly not stopping any time soon.
The products launch in London on the 6th December for iPhone 4 & 4s with an iPhone 5 compatible version available to reserve now for January release, exclusive to Selfridges.
There are two standard models:
foto.sosho C.4 a modern look camera which included standard, 0.67xwide macro, 0.28x fisheye lenses. Available in black or white. RRP £199.
foto.sosho V.4 a vintage look camera which includes a slide-out keyboard, standard, 0.67xwide macro, 0.28x fisheye lenses. Available in white & gold or black & silver. RRP £299.
By STYLEetc writer @pearlwestwood