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This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application No. 60/809,070, filed May 26, 2006, which is incorporated herein by reference.
The present invention relates to a system for customizing personal storage articles such as a wallet, purse, pocketbook or other similar item, and more particularly to the use of a removable outer shell to change the appearance and function of the personal storage article.
The typical personal storage article, such as a wallet, purse or pocketbook, has both aesthetic and functional components. For example, from a functional point of view, a wallet has to hold money. In addition though, many feel that the wallet should also have a certain aesthetic property as well to reflect a desired appearance. Another example is a woman's purse or pocketbook. With these items, the look of the purse or pocketbook is often considered by the user to be more important than the ability of the bag to hold needed items.
Presently, circumstances often require a user to own multiple personal storage articles, each for a given purpose. The purpose can be aesthetic, for example, to match a given outfit. The purpose can also be functional, for example, to make the personal storage item capable of storing various amounts of objects. The prior art requires the purchase of a different personal storage article for each different application.
Additionally, the purchase of a personal storage article can be a substantial investment. For example, purses can sell for several hundred or even thousands of dollars. Repeated use can result in wear and tear on the outside surface of the article, thereby degrading its aesthetic characteristics, and requiring its replacement. This can be an expensive proposition.
Prior art personal storage articles have attempted to address the above-described problems by providing products with removable and changeable interiors or handles, but none with completely removable and changeable outer shells.
Accordingly, a need exists for a personal storage device that addresses the above-described deficiencies in the prior art by providing a personal storage device whose aesthetic and functional characteristics are not fixed.
The present invention overcomes the problems identified above by providing a system for combining a personal storage article with a removable outer shell that allows for appearance and functionality customization. The inventive changeable outer shell feature provides a relatively low-cost fashion option for the wearer and allows the wearer to conveniently maintain the content of the personal storage article while switching exterior styles. The invention also provides the user an opportunity to customize the functionality of the personal storage article by joining the host with a shell that has additional functional properties.
In one aspect of the invention, a shell for use with a personal storage article is disclosed. The shell contains a cover that is fastened to the personal storage article in a temporary manner, such that it can be removed. The cover is shaped to conform with the outer surface of the personal storage article and can contain a functional element, such as a hidden pocket, a pocket, additional storage space, or a photo holder.
In yet another aspect of the invention, the personal storage article can be intended for use with a shell (or a series of shells) and may or may not include an integral fastening mechanism.
In yet another aspect of the invention, the shell is designed for use with a personal storage article host that was not previously intended for such use. In that case, the fastener of the cover may attach visibly or invisibly to the personal storage article, and may or may not require the modification of the personal storage article.
FIG. 1 shows an example of a host wallet according to a first embodiment.
FIG. 2 shows an example of a host purse according to a second embodiment.
FIG. 3 shows one example of an outer shell for use with a wallet host.
FIG. 4 shows one example of an outer shell for use with a purse host.
FIG. 5 illustrates how an outer shell could fasten to a host wallet.
FIG. 6 illustrates how an outer shell could fasten to a host purse.
The inventive system combines a wallet, purse, pocketbook, or other similar item, with a removable outer shell that can be changed to accommodate at least one different, pre-fabricated shell. The shell can come in a variety of styles and designs to suit the wearer's mood or complement the wearer's overall fashion style or “look.” Alternatively, the shell may provide added functionality, and can be replaced when different functionality is desired, or an existing functionality is no longer needed.
In one example, a basic wallet or purse would be the “host” to the shell. In a given size, the host would remain the same, but the pre-fabricated shells could differ aesthetically in terms of material, texture and graphic design or pattern on the material. The material could be cloth, leather, plastic or any other suitable material. The pre-fabricated shells could also differ in terms of added functionality provided. For example, a given shell may have a hidden pocket, additional storage space, a photo holder or other such structure. The hosts and shells could be manufactured and sold as separate pieces or as part of a package. In another embodiment, “shells” could be manufactured at standard sizes for use with “hosts” that were not originally designed to be used in conjunction with a “shell.”
The host wallet or purse could be constructed in a similar manner to current products on the market. The removable outer shell could be fastened to the edges, or other areas of the personal storage article host with a small zipper or other fasteners such as buttons, snaps, Velcro or hooks (or a combination of different types of fasteners). Hosts can be produced in different sizes and shapes. One or more shells can be constructed appropriate for use with that size and shape host.
The host wallet, purse, or other similar item, could be a standard design on the inside—compartments for cash, slots for cards and a pocket for change, etc. In one embodiment, the exterior surface of the host is modified in some manner to accommodate a fastener that will attach the outer shell. Such fastener could be visible from the exterior of the shell, or invisible. In another embodiment, the shell is capable of attaching to the host without the need for any modification to the host.
FIG. 1 shows a wallet 100 according to a first embodiment of the present invention. The wallet 100 has been modified to be non-permanently attached to a removable shell through the use of a fastener receptor 102, which is a zipper in the present example. The fastener receptor 102 is attached to an outer surface 101 of the wallet 100. One of skill in the art would appreciate that the fastener itself could be attached to the wallet, with the receptor for the fastener instead attached to the shell.
Similarly, FIG. 2 shows a purse 103 according to a second embodiment of the present invention. The purse 103 has been modified to be non-permanently attached to a removable shell through the use of a multiple fastener receptors 105a and 105b, that are designed to mate with multiple fasteners. Fastener receptors 105a and 105b are attached to an outer surface 104 of the purse 103. One of skill in the art would appreciate that any number of fasteners (including a single fastener) or any type of suitable fastener could be substituted in place of fasteners 105a and 105b.
FIG. 3 shows a removable shell 106 for use with wallet 100. Fastener 108 is attached to the sides of the outer surface of the shell 107. In the present example the outer surface 107 contains a heart pattern. Any desired visual appearance can be achieved by so modifying the pattern, shape or materials that comprise shell 106.
FIG. 4 shows a removable shell 109 for use with purse 103. Fasteners 111a and 111b are attached to the sides of the outer surface of the shell 110. In the present example the outer surface of the shell 110 contains a flower pattern.
FIG. 5 shows shell 106 non-permanently attached to wallet 100 through the mating of fastener 108 and fastener receptor 102.
Similarly, FIG. 6 shows shell 109 non-permanently attached to purse 103 though the mating of fastener 111a with fastener receptor 105a and fastener 111b with fastener receptor 105b.
The form of the removable shell might vary. In a first embodiment, the host might fit completely within the shell. In another embodiment the shell might consist of panels of material that are fastened separately to the surfaces of the personal storage article.
A person of ordinary skill in the art would appreciate that there are many possible ways of mating the host to the shell. The exact methodology used is not important to the present invention—only that the host and shell can be temporarily joined, and easily separated, as desired. For example, the following is a non-exhaustive list of possible mechanisms:
Zipper—A small zipper could fasten the outer shell to the host. Half of the zipper track would be on the host, the other half on the outer shell. When zipped together the outer shell is joined to the host.
Buttons—Small buttons could fasten the outer shell to the host. The buttons would be sewn around the edges of the host. The outer shell would have corresponding buttonholes. When buttoned together the outer shell is joined to the host.
Snaps—Small snaps could fasten the outer shell to the host. The female snaps would be sewn around the edges of the host. The outer shell would have corresponding male snaps. When snapped together the outer shell is joined to the host.
Velcro—Small strips of Velcro could fasten the outer shell to the host. The Velcro would be sewn around the edges of the host. The outer shell would have corresponding Velcro material. When pressed together the outer shell is joined to the host.
While the preferred embodiment of the invention has been illustrated and described, it will be appreciated that various changes can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.