This Bang & Olufsen x Balenciaga Bluetooth speaker is the weirdest collab of the year

Bang & Olufsen/Balenciaga Speaker Bag held by a woman in a black dress
(Image credit: Bang & Olufsen/Balenciaga)

The world of digital audio tech moves at breakneck speed and one can often uncover curious and highly intriguing partnerships – think Maserati and Sonus faber, Philips and Bowers & Wilkins, Dirac and Nio or Devialet and premium economy flight seats for starters.

Sometimes these burgeoning relationships bear strange but beautiful fruit (see the Maserati Cielo or Razer's green sneaker collaboration with Cariuma). And then sometimes you get a metal handbag-shaped Bluetooth speaker with an Italian lambskin-lined storage compartment inside. 

What's happened is that luxury clothing brand Balenciaga and Danish high-end audio specialist Bang & Olufsen have released a bag that can play music – something I'm relatively sure neither music lovers nor fashionistas put at the top of their birthday list. 

The Speaker Bag (as it has been predictably named) is milled from a solid block of aluminum and it has a lambskin-lined storage compartment inside. In another highly foreseeable moment, B&O described it as "part bag, part Bluetooth sound system".

The Speaker Bag was shown at Balenciaga's 51st couture fashion show in Paris, during which models (including US celeb Kim Kardashian and British supermodel Naomi Campbell) carried the bag along the catwalk as it played music to a probably unsuspecting audience.

The limited-edition collection comprises just 20 bags in total, each of which was pearl-blasted, anodised and hand-polished at Bang & Olufsen's aluminum factory in Struer, Denmark, to give it a satin finish. The bag was then sent to Balenciaga's studio in Italy where its interior was completed.

Bang & Olufsen x Balenciaga's Speaker Bag in silver on gray background

The Speaker Bag also comes in silver (Image credit: Bang & Olufsen/Balenciaga)

Opinion: at least it will carry sound pretty well…  

Sorry folks. Anyway, said sound can apparently be adjusted via a set of controls under the handle, while battery life is a claimed 18 hours – and naturally, Balenciaga and Bang & Olufsen's logos have been lasered into the top of each Speaker Bag, which comes in your choice of black or silver.

Models at the Balenciaga show also wore striking, ink-tinted, hand-moulded futuristic black face shields made in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz (a company clearly in a friendly mood – the car manufacturer recently collaborated with Master & Dynamic to produce F1-esque headphones) to hide their identity.

Why am I so… disappointed? It just feels altogether too kitsch for Bang & Olufsen; an aspirational brand known to have created some of the most intriguing and talented audio-visual products on the market. See the splendid Beoplay H95 headphones, a beautiful book-shaped wireless speaker, a stunning 48-inch OLED TV and the unforgettable Beosound Edge, a striking speaker that draws inspiration from the humble British Pound coin, to see what I mean. 

I truly doubt you can get too many of your worldly belongings into what Balenciaga is calling a "true hybrid product" and as a functional purse it's also likely to be heavy. 

What I'm saying is, this Bang & Olufsen x Balenciaga Bluetooth speaker is undoubtedly the strangest collab of the year and perhaps it's just one of those partnerships that may not stand the test of time. Would you buy Bang & Olufsen’s part Bluetooth speaker, part Balenciaga bag?

Then again, Karl Lagerfeld is known to have said "Trendy is the last stage before tacky", so who am I to say? 

Bang & Olufsen Speaker Bag held by a model wearing denim

Bluetooth speaker but make it fashion (Image credit: Bang & Olufsen/Balenciaga)
Becky Scarrott
Audio Editor

Becky became Audio Editor at TechRadar in 2024, but joined the team in 2022 as Senior Staff Writer, focusing on all things hi-fi. Before this, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.