Cellphones. Hand-held computers. iPods. Digital cameras.
Such gadgets may make our lives easier. But for businessmen like Scott Jordan and Jeasung Yoo, they also offered a perplexing practical problem: how to carry them all in a convenient, stylish way.
The solution went beyond your run-of-the-mill cargo pants and safari vests. About four years ago, both men began designing their own lines of clothing laden with hidden pockets to hold everything you might need to carry. Their companies -- Jordan's is called SCOTTeVEST Inc., Yoo's is called KOYONO Inc. -- are part of a growing trend toward the integration of clothing and technology, an effort that lies partly in proving that fashion and function are not mutually exclusive.
''People aren't going to wear it if it looks geeky," Jordan says. ''It's got to be attractive."
SCOTTeVEST, based in Idaho and sold online, offers an array of jacket designs, some with more than 30 pockets. The company also offers a jacket with solar panels that will recharge electronic devices. The clothes utilize a patented system that allows wearers to connect their gadgets without any visible wires.
Adam Young, a Millbury resident who works at the US Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, said he first saw SCOTTeVEST clothes on display at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. He later received a jacket as a gift and uses it for his phone and other gadgets, as well as notebooks and pens. He liked the jacket's straightforward concept.
''It was a neat idea," Young says.
SCOTTeVEST products have become popular not only with technophiles and travelers, but also with undercover law enforcement, Jordan says. Meanwhile, KOYONO is marketed toward the ''creative class" of artists and innovators, says Jim Haviland, the company's ''chief experience officer."
KOYONO is known for its BlackCoat design, which has as many as 14 compartments. It also offers a T-shirt with two storage compartments that can be worn under a button-down shirt.
Peter Murphy stocks KOYONO jackets at his menswear store, Peter Mark, in Newburyport. He says the jackets do appeal to the tech-savvy, but he also likes their versatility and their ability to double as carry-on luggage.
''When I fly, that's what I use," Murphy says. ''It's almost like a mini-suitcase."
Other established companies have begun making forays into ''wearable technology" as well. Last fall, GapKids and Wild Planet began selling a children's fleece jacket called the ''Hoodio" that featured a built-in FM radio. The snowboard company Burton offers a jacket that allows wearers to plug in their iPods and control them through a sleeve panel. Later this year, Burton will offer a new jacket that allows wearers to talk on their cellphones or listen to music through speakers and a microphone built into the jacket's hood and collar.
Bryan Johnston, a Burton vice president and director of global marketing, said it made sense for the company to find ways to accommodate technology because it is already a part of the snowboarding lifestyle.
''The consumers, they're not going to wait for us," Johnston says. ''They're going to do it on their own if they have to." (For the record, Johnston says the company recommends that snowboarders only use these products on the lift to avoid any potential dangers on the mountain.)
Given the convenience of technology, Jordan notes that important business decisions can take place just as easily on the ski slope as in an office. He sees the marriage of clothing and technology as helping to enable the ''mobile workforce."
''You need not be sitting behind your desk to accomplish your goals," he said.