Tech Talk: Kate Spade Partners With Startup Everpurse to Sell IPhone-Charging Bags

This piece originally appeared on the Wall Street Journal

Since Americans shop and consume media online mostly through their phones today, it makes sense that fashion designers and retailers sell products to keep their customers’ phones fully charged.

Kate Spade & Co. believes customers will want purses that double as a power supply and has created a new collection of designer bags that include technology from the seed-funded startup Everpurse to enable this functionality.

Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Mary Beech said Kate Spade & Co. is “committed to digital innovation,” and designing for “customers who live a life on-the-go.”

She said everyone can relate to running down a mobile phone’s battery and feeling stranded, begging co-workers to borrow a charger, or jostling for access to a wall outlet at a cafe or airport. The new collection is meant to alleviate such modern problems.

Instead of wrapping a designer skin around existing consumer electronics, Everpurse co-founder and Chief Executive Liz Salcedo said, Kate Spade and Everpurse co-developed the new collection of bags in an exhaustive process that took roughly 10 months.

The collection, which will be available this September includes bags–clutches, wristlets, totes and backpacks–that will be sold by Kate Spade New York stores, Kate Spade online, Nordstrom and Everpurse.com.

Everpurse CEO Liz Salcedo (left) with Kate Spade & Co. CMO Mary Beech

The bags will cost between $198 and $698. They will have the ability to charge iPhones including all models from iPhone 5 through the iPhone 6 Plus. The bags themselves are never plugged into a wall outlet, but instead rest on a charging mat, which sends energy wirelessly into a battery inside.

A fully charged Kate Spade Everpurse should last a typical iPhone user for two days, said Everpurse co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Dan Salcedo.

Everpurse investor and adviser Peter England–formerly the CEO of Unilever’s Elizabeth Arden, Elizabeth Taylor Fragrances and Calvin Klein Cosmetics businesses–said Kate Spade’s willingness to incorporate technology into its core offering, premium bags for women, is exceptional in the industry.

“By its nature fashion is fickle with seasonal changes,” he said. “While there has been a lot of talk about fashion and tech, often times designers don’t understand it. And you cannot have batteries exploding in bags.”

One reason Mr. England said he invested in Everpurse is that its technology meets the demanding standards of companies such as Apple and Kate Spade. It also isn’t “reproducible in an easy way,” he said. Mr. England hopes the startup will become the fashion industry’s “Intel inside,” though much depends on how well the new collection performs through the 2015 holiday season.

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