Pros: Fashionable, “shaggy chic” handmade iPod cases with retro styling, protective of full-sized iPods unless turned upside down. Some include earbud pockets and clear front screen/control panels.
Cons: Love it or hate it designs, with naturally deteriorating denim fringe; some cases have no direct access to the iPod’s controls or screen.
Because of the influx of a number of new fashion cases to iLounge – some from large designers, some from small designers, we have made a modest tweak to our review format solely for this type of product. In the past, our grades of all iPod cases have been objective and based on certain specific characteristics: overall protectivity, overall look, fit and finish, pricing, and value-added features such as pack-ins. Fashion cases don’t fit as neatly into some of these categories, because they’re designed mostly for looks, to appeal to the tastes and sensibilities of certain people – not everyone – and priced commensurately.
Therefore, our evaluations of fashion cases will be solely based on the construction and protectiveness of the finished products, and not their looks or pricing. You can decide for yourself whether you like their appearance and pricing, while we’ll strive to tell you how resilient they are, and how well they’re built overall.
With thin, soft denim as its base material, Catherine’s Pita has developed over twenty different “cozies” that fit 3G, 4G and photo iPods, each with a different patch or other stitched element on its front, some with small rear headphone pockets stitched on their backs. Each case appears to be individually designed, and replaced by another largely similar but somewhat different version (2.0, 3.0, 4.0) thereafter. The cases’ front and back pieces look to be two rectangles of fabric cut from old jeans, aggressively stitched together with blue or red threads.
One of the Cozies we tested is called Window of My World 3.0 ($25.00), and it’s the most practical of the bunch – it has a thin vinyl front window that displays a fabric blue floral pattern on the rear interior of the case when an iPod’s not inside, and alternately the majority of the face of recent full-sized iPods. The rear of the case includes a shiny metal piece of foil stitched into a headphone pocket. Both the case and its pocket are entirely open at their tops.
Another case, Rock City, USA, includes a heat-grafted, resilient, and stitched American flag/lightning bolt patch on its front, with red and white cotton fabric on both sides of its interior, and as a headphone pocket on its back. Catherine’s Pita also shows a version called Rock City, USA 2.0 ($25.00) with a larger denim pocket on its back.
Finally, the Tropical Robot series ($25.00) features a heat-grafted, thin dyed cartoony robot patch on its front, with the same blue floral cotton interior used in the Window of My World 3.0 case, and no pocket on the back. Unlike the Window of My World case, which has one interior side of cotton pattern and one of exposed denim, both the front and back of the Tropical Robot’s interior include the softer cotton.
Though the appearance of these cases will either turn you on or off pretty quickly, it’s hard to criticize their iPod protectiveness: despite their shabby chic look, they’re stitched aggressively enough on their sides to serve as more than adequate iPod protectors. But some of the design decisions, namely the designers’ use of entirely open tops and pockets, and flimsy feeling pockets and front window materials, counterbalance the strong stitching of the denim. Additionally, while the cases’ frayed edges are part of the “look” of the product, they are legitimately frayed and not just a fashion affectation, so these cases will likely come apart – thread-by-thread, that is – with normal use.
Leaving looks and pricing aside on these cases, we rate the clear plastic front Window of the World case a B, as it provides fair iPod protection, plus access to the iPod’s screen and controls, and uses fairly resilient denim. iLounge editorial opinion was sharply split on the aesthetics of the other cases, but we’ll leave you to decide whether they fit your needs. Because they’re one-of-a-kind and handmade, they’re surely different from other fashion cases out there.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge. His recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school – ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.
Company and Price
Company: Catherine’s Pita
Model: iPod Cozies
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G, iPod photo