Ted Baker took a leap from the fashion world of beautiful prints and wonderful tailoring into the land of audio recently when it launched a headphone range along with a Bluetooth speaker. We loved the Ted Baker Rockall headphones when we reviewed them. Now we are about to see the arrival of a DAB Bluetooth radio, the Finisterre.
The headphones and speaker both combined Ted Baker's exquisite retro style with great sound quality and the new Finisterre DAB Bluetooth radio looks set to follow the same path.
The design of the new radio is lovely. The metal build coupled with the soft leather trim that comes in brown or black oozes quality and from our first impressions, the sound was great too. Yet despite getting it so right, audio is just a side branch of a very big Ted tree.
We caught up with the Ted Baker's CEO and joint founder - who's name is not actually Ted Baker but Ray Kelvin - and we were pleasantly surprised about what we learned from this very trendy, happy and hugging man.
Fanatically particular about every part of design
It may have taken a couple of years to perfect, but Ted Baker didn't launch the audio range until it was 100 per cent happy with it and it shows in the final products.
"It's taken a long amount of time but then we aren't in a rush. We aren't difficult but we are so bloody particular. I'm fanatically particular about every part of design. We don't want to just slap our name on it. Everything we do has to add value," explained Kelvin.
There is a lot to be said about perfecting a design and then launching it rather than the other way round. It's obviously worked here, so maybe other areas such as smartwatch design could take a few tips from Ted.
It doesn't start out with "let's do this because we can make a few quid"
When Ray talked about adding value though, he wasn't talking about cash. In fact, it sounded as though the audio range was launched more for fun rather than to add to the bank balance.
According to Kelvin: "It's not just about doing things to make more money. It has to be fit for purpose. Our policy is look after the people, look after the product, have passion for what you do, and do today better than yesterday."
"The business is doing well. We don't need to do these things, so everything we do we have to make sure it is consistent."
The audio range reflects the clothing, with the same quality materials being used, and this connection between the two worlds looks like it will be further cemented, as there was talk of seeing colours, prints and a different play with leather introduced to the audio range in the future.
Ted Baker has taken on a full-time "Tedhistorian" to provide a series of lectures at the company for employees to understand where things begin and the reasons behind them to make sure it doesn't just go and do something because it can.
The idea is that the retired teacher will help debate what is a good idea and what's a bad idea but we like the idea of a couple of extra colours introduced to the audio range. Plus, it would be very interesting to see some of the Ted Baker prints incorporated.
Famous for being Ted Baker
One of the most interesting things to come from talking to Ray however, was the fact that Ted Baker may have gone into audio, but it has no intention of competing with the likes of Sonos or Sony: fashion is still top priority.
"The one thing we need to be careful of is to make sure [audio] doesn't become too big, if it is going to be big. It's early days, it's selling well, it's gotta be found and word of mouth has got to get there. It's had a good reaction but if it started to go potty, we would pull back because we don't want to be famous for one thing. And if we are going to be famous for one thing, then we want it to be clothing," explained Kelvin.
"We don't want audio to overtake us as a clothing brand, a clothing business. We want it to be a sizeable business, a nice business, but something that fits with everything else. We want to be famous for being Ted Baker."
You can take the girl out of the party, but you can't take the party out of the girl, as they say. The way Ted Baker has stuck to its fashion roots, but incorporated them into the world of tech, in this case audio, is a nice change. We can't wait to see what other designs will appear.
The Ted Baker Finisterre DAB/DAB+/FM Radio and Bluetooth Speaker is compatible with Android, iOS and BlackBerry and it claims to deliver a "warm acoustic sound" and "exceptional hi-fidelity sound quality".
There is a 3.5mm stereo in-line port, along with a 3.5mm stereo headphone out port, a USB port for firmware updates, a clock and alarm with snooze and a sleep function.
The radio that is described as "in tune with the times", will be available from October for £199 and it will come in brushed silver and black leather, or brushed silver and tan leather colour options.
It's fairly large by moderns standards, but this isn't a radio that's designed to hide in the shadows. The quailty design and finish makes this something you'll want to have on display. After all, this is Ted Baker, no ordinary designer label.