"V-MODA, STARTED THE IDEA OF FASHION HEADPHONES IN 2004..."
- Stereophile + Innerfidelity Editor, Tyll
Born in Chicago, the city of House music, V-MODA CEO Val Kolton developed an interest in technology, music and design at a very early age. In elementary school he was already programming, and learning to play several musical instruments, from drums to guitar. He explored new music and new technologies, seeing them not only as potential professions, but also as parts of culture and a particular lifestyle.
V-MODA is the direct result of an intuition that came to Val after a summer in Ibiza, where he experienced the world’s greatest DJs and clubs, and the unique vibe of the White Isle. He wanted to somehow capture this contemporary culture, combining the love of great sound with a globe-trotting lifestyle driven by a need for music, fashion and art. Back in Los Angeles, one day Val found himself on Rodeo Drive, watching a woman step out of her Rolls Royce, dressed to kill in total haute couture. There was just one thing that ruined her perfect image: a set of cheap white plastic headphones. This was back in 2002. Kolton suddenly realized how to put his obsessions together – he would make stylish headphones with great sound, worthy of the most demanding audiophile, using metal instead of plastic to create the missing link, with a true fashion/lifestyle brand centered around music.
Working out of a rented room in Hollywood, sinking into serious debt and laboring long hours for several years, Val Kolton and designer Joseph Bucknall created the first V-MODA products and launched the brand at the Magic/PROJECT fashion show, with a line of dance-music inspired t-shirts, hats, compilation CDs, and the world’s first line of pro-quality colored metal fashion headphones, which they called “hearwear.” These were also the first headphones in the world to feature an array of colored cables. The show brought in a bit of much-needed revenue. Val then hit Melrose Avenue, going door to door, trying to sell the idea to fashion boutiques. In spite of his conviction that headphones ARE fashion, every store owner said "headphones are electronics, who cares if they are metal and have colors. You should sell them in electronics stores." One electronics dealer said, “headphones are not a significant category, that is why they’re shelved behind the clock radios”. Clearly Val was just ahead of his time. History has proved it.
In fact, after many more months of searching, and considering the idea of going back to computer programming to make a living, Virgin and Apple both understood Val’s vision, adding the V-MODA product line to their mix. Later that year, Kolton was named one of L.A.’s Top 20 Entrepreneurs in their 20s. Today the company has sold over 4 million high-end headphones around the world, and V-MODA is the preferred brand of many of the world’s most popular DJs and modern audiophiles alike.
Education and Background
V-MODA is the embodiment of Val’s research, and continues to break down both aesthetic and technological barriers. Val is a graduate of the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, where he studied Management Information Systems and Finance. After graduation, he became a strategy and technology engineering consultant for a number of Fortune 500 companies and leading brands. After Ibiza, he became an avid inventor, filing his own patents, while also producing remixes and further developing the V-MODA brand.