Skullcandy used to be a fashion statement—although that statement seemed to say "I'm a loud teenager!" This headphone mainstay was flashy and heavy on neon. But in the past few years, consumers have been drawn to high-end competitors with signature sounds (such as the bass-heavy Beats by Dr. Dre), and Skullcandy realized its product was all show. So it built an in-house engineering team—previously, all this work was farmed out—to maximize airflow and enrich the audio. The new line now boasts a branded Supreme Sound. "We've strengthened the diaphragm of the headphone to smooth out high frequencies," says chief merchandising officer Dan Levine. In a market catering to audio geeks, he wants Skullcandy's statement to be heard, not just seen. ($150, skullcandy.com)
A version of this article appeared in the October 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.