From WWD Womens Wear Daily
PARIS — When friends Adrien Messié, a former collaborator of French design maven Andrée Putman, and Erwan Le Louër, founder of ethical jewelry label JEM, stepped into the jewelry arena in 2012 with Le Gramme, they thought the market for men’s jewelry was “mature, but there was no selection,” explained Le Louër over a bottle of Evian in his pristine design office on Rue Beaubourg, just steps from the Centre Pompidou, Paris’ hub for modern and contemporary art.
“We launched the line just to see, did everything contrary to the market: We only had five references really — one design declined into different weights — and the fact is, it grew like crazy.”
In its first year, Le Gramme did twice as well as the founders predicted; in the second year, it tripled volume and now expects to triple again having sold approximately 5,000 pieces via its wholesale network, which currently spans 50 stores, including The Webster Miami, Selfridges and Bergdorf Goodman. Hip Parisian retailer Colette is said to be placing a reorder every two weeks.
“Over the past couple of seasons, we have seen a notable increase in the demand for men’s jewelry at Mr Porter,” Toby Bateman, the online retailer’s buying director, told WWD. “We’ve seen this growth across all subcategories: from Tod’s’ woven leather wrap styles, Luis Morais’ beaded offerings and Miansai’s eclectic range, to brands like Le Gramme, with their understated cuffs in precious metals proving the most popular.
“We expect this trend to continue, and with this in mind we’ll be increasing our offering for the coming season,” Bateman added.
At Le Bon Marché, accessories are thriving, accounting for 40 percent of the men’s offer in terms of volume, and jewelry is a rapidly growing category within that segment.
“Sales are up 140 percent,” said Carole Falewee, buyer and product manager for Le Bon Marché’s men’s wear department, citing Le Gramme among the buzziest labels. “Men’s tastes have evolved from ostentatious rock-inspired pieces such as skulls and crosses to more refined, simpler items.”
Le Gramme, which at the moment has fewer than five minimalist bracelet collections employing either brushed or polished sterling silver, black silver, yellow or red gold, is manufactured in France.
Seven craftsmen work on one piece, which can weigh between 0.25 and 3.7 ounces and retail between $260 and $6,800. “It’s not like we invented anything new. The shape already existed,” explained Le Louër, “but we are freaks when it comes to details; we can spend up to a week working on one angle, and maybe men respect that. Also, the styles are so simple they fit many types — from the hipster to the lawyer.”
The trend is going strong on both sides of the pond.
Case in point: Title of Work.
Jonathan Meizler, founder of the New York-based label, was running a successful accessories business built on ties and bow ties when he decided to launch a jewelry line three seasons ago, which “exploded immediately,” he said, despite a strong dollar.
“I had been doing primarily cuff links and tie bars for a bit and that was a nice niche, but as a designer I [was thinking about] what I could bring into the market that has not been explored yet. I saw a lot of people wearing layered bracelets and I thought, let’s do that in one piece.”
The multiwrap, a long bracelet made of multiple types of leather and chains in varying widths, which — when wrapped around the wrist, looks like a carefully curated assembly of classics — is now his bestseller.
“There’s a no-fuss factor in it,” said the designer, who has also started to integrate 18-karat rose gold and rough black diamonds, inching closer to the fine jewelry department, which is traditionally women’s territory. The pieces are still masculine thanks to their simple, clean lines and a darker edge, especially when mixed with waxed leather and oxidized silver for a rugged, used look.
Meizler says men are “experimenting more at this time. You see a guy with a whole wrist of chains, and it’s OK, it looks good and it’s sexy.”
Just don’t complicate things too much.
“Men have no patience to wear jewelry,” Catherine Zadeh is convinced — which perhaps explains why her parachute cord bracelet with a satin finish is a hit. “It’s waterproof. You can wear it in the shower or in the ocean. We always say our hash-tag is: never-take-it-off.”
With her namesake line, Zadeh aims for “the man who does not wear jewelry,” which, according to her, is 95 percent of men.
“We focus on a very simple and understated aesthetic, no Gothic or rock ’n’ roll, no big crosses or heavy pieces, but clean, elegant lines,” she noted, adding that sales of her line, which is handmade by New York artisans, jumped 250 percent in 2014 from the previous year.
Retailers have taken notice of the spike as well.
“The men’s business overall has been very strong the last few seasons, and chains, pendants, cuff links have become very popular. Everyone has a wrist full of collected pieces,” agreed Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus, citing David Yurman, John Hardy and Stephen Webster among his top performers. “It’s all about the wrist for a gentleman, because it’s an easy way to translate fashion into the wardrobe.”
Downing has a hunch the jewels’ success story originated on the red carpet. “Male celebs often wear bracelets. They don’t have an open shirt, so the focus is on the wrist. And it’s not just the younger customer,” he noted. “Men of every age are embracing the idea of curated pieces for everyday use.”
Downing noted there was a time when men used to shop with women or just to find a gift; now they come “a lot” to the store to shop for themselves.
“It gives them a sense of confidence. Twenty years ago, there was an idea of international style. Now we are seeing an entirely new generation able to adapt to a trend much more quickly and pick it up. It’s the Internet that opened up the conversation of fashion,” he observed.
At Neiman’s, the category is experiencing a “nice growth,” according to Downing. “We are often looking for new collections to take in. It’s an underserved category — not as enormous an industry as women’s.”
“With guys, it’s tricky — you can’t go too crazy, because they won’t buy it,” said Michael Saiger, founder and head designer of Miami-based Miansai. “Designing for guys is like science.”
After six years in this still fairly novel business segment, Saiger attempts to keep the pieces modern with an industrial feel, which translates into square wires mixed with round screws, for instance. Besides his famous fishhooks, he is due to start working with more silver and brass, but said, “It just cannot feel like costume jewelry, it has to stay affordable and reach a wide demographic. Otherwise it doesn’t work.”
The opening price point at Miansai is $55, with the bulk of his business coming between $55 and $500, though Saiger says having opened his first store in New York last year exceeded his expectations. “People buy much more into the higher-priced segment now; they will come to the store for a watch and get a piece in solid gold for $5,000. It didn’t happen before, because there was nowhere to showcase those items. I feel like this has been the strongest season I’ve ever done.”
The company doubled its sales in 2014, and expects to keep up the pace of growth for 2015, having also hired a bigger sales team. Saiger said he aims to open five to 10 stores in the next five to seven years, with L.A., London and Paris among priorities, while he is keen to also expand the online business.
While simple styles have had a run, retailers cited an appetite for bolder designs as well.
Jo Harris, general merchandise manager of men’s wear at Harrods, said she noted that her “customers are influenced by statement iconic jewelry from the likes of Alexander McQueen and Versace. Generally, choice for men has widened.”
“We notice that men are increasingly discerning about their luxury purchases and are looking for unusual details that allow them to express their personal style in unique ways,” said designer David Yurman, who opened a flagship in New York last winter.
The space, which features a room dedicated to men, has performed well. “The percentage of men’s jewelry that we sell there is greater than most of our flagship markets. Currently, our men’s category accounts for 18 percent of our total retail business, and has emerged as one of our fastest-growing mainline product divisions,” Yurman explained.
The bulk of the label’s men’s business is generated in the $750-to-$1,000 price tier across the full assortment, “but we’re seeing that our male clients are increasingly willing to spend more on great design. Our most successful new launch in 2014 was a forged-carbon linked bracelet that was priced at $1,850,” said the designer.
Yurman plans to expand his range with new styles.
“When we design for men, we look for innovative materials, unusual techniques and design motifs steeped in history. Our clients have a tendency to accumulate and wear their jewelry like talismans to remind them of special places and times in their lives — ultimately layering pieces to create their own signature look,” he said, echoing retailers’ observations.
Yurman just launched his Faceted Metal collection, harkening back to high jewelry pieces with a new platinum that mimics the facets of a cut diamond. For spring, the brand will launch a collection called Heirloom in green and in black jade. “It’s the first time that we have used these stones in such distinctive cuts,” said Yurman.
Le Gramme, buoyed by the brand’s quick success, is expanding its range, too.
“We are branching out into leather goods and design very shortly,” Le Louër revealed, adding: “It’s going to be conceptual — a men’s lifestyle brand.”
On the other hand, following the launch of men’s watches one year ago, Miansai is targeting women with a watch line launched for spring. “Right now, women account for 20 percent of business. But that number is changing rapidly. By the end of this year, I expect it to be at around 40 percent,” Saiger predicted.
Men’s Jewellery Guide: Spring/Summer 2015
Keeping your look cool as the weather warms up can be difficult. When the mercury rises, we want to shed as much clothing as possible, meaning dynamic outfits involving numerous layers simply don’t cut it. A linen T-shirt, lightweight cotton jacket, chino shorts and boat shoes might work for spring’s sunnier moments, but this combination will have you sweating something crazy when the height of summer hits.
But there is a solution. Want to keep your look on point without overheating? Try investing in a couple of pieces of jewellery to add interest. Lightweight, perfectly portable for summer getaways, and available at prices across the spectrum, jewellery offers an easy way to amp up your warm-weather attire.
“Bracelets, necklaces and rings are a tricky thing to get right,” says Warren Beckett A.K.A. blogger Monsieur Robot. “Too many and you look like you’re trying too hard, but get it right and you can really elevate your outfit.”
With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a rundown of the key pieces of jewellery to see you through the season:
Bracelets & Cuffs
While some style purists will still argue a watch is the only accessory suitable for a man’s wrist, recent trends beg to differ. Historically we men may have been wary of jewellery but given the growth in the market over the past few years, it seems plenty of us are now giving it a go.
“Jewellery is perhaps the most difficult type of accessory for men to pull off,” says Beckett. “My advice is it should feel like an extension of your body – you can carry off anything with the right level of confidence. For spring/summer 2015, I’m layering cuffs and bracelets by specialist brands such as Stephen Einhorn and Miansai.”
Bracelets and cuffs are perfect for adding personality and character to your look when wearing lightweight tees and vests. “This season is all about the modern wrap bracelet; something with a clean design that’s casual and can be worn all summer long,” says Michael Saiger, Founder and Creative Director of Miami-based accessories brand Miansai.
A well-placed leather bracelet will bring a little understated texture to your outfit, and can – depending on the style in question – appear ruggedly casual or surprisingly smart. Try teaming a jet black or rich dark brown design with a short-sleeved shirt, some tailored shorts and a pair of leather loafers for a refined yet laid-back aesthetic.
If your style is more surf’s up than buttoned up, consider a colourful beaded or textile bracelet from brands such as Simon Carter or Ted Baker. These work well layered up on one, or both, of your wrists and can be combined with casual beach wear, as well as relaxed unstructured cotton and linen short suits.
Looking for something more statement-making? Try adding a quality cuff or two to your accessories collection. Miansai offers a slew of expertly crafted gold- and silver-plated styles that don’t cost the earth, while minimal Scandi brand Acne Studios do a selection of gold and oxidised silver bangles that will really set off smarter summer attire.
- Ted Baker Dudem Flat Leather Bracelet
- Tateossian Tat Sq Lthr Dbl Wrap Sml Click
- Paul Smith London Black-leather Wrap Bracelet 1003034
- Ted Baker Leather Wrap Bracelet
- Miansai Double Wrap Rope Bracelet
- Miansai Hook Rope Bracelet
- Tods Woven-leather Wrap Bracelet
- Simon Carter Semi Precious Bracelet Pack
- Double Strand Beaded Wrist Bracelet Silver & Round Lapis
- Luis Morais Bead Bracelet
- Miansai Orange Hook Leather Wrap Bracelet Sc78879
- Miansai Rope And Silver-plated Anchor Bracelet
- Acne Studios Oxidized Sterling Silver Cuff
- Miansai Layered Brass Cuff
- Miansai Gold-plated Cuff
Slightly more dangerous territory than bracelets and cuffs, necklaces are notoriously difficult to wear well. Get it right, and you bring an otherwise banal outfit up a whole notch. Get it wrong, and you either look like a juvenile delinquent hell bent on boozing in a public park, or someone who has dropped out of life to explore shamanism.
The key here is to keep things as low-key as possible. Necklaces that are big – either in physical size or aesthetic – are traditionally associated with womenswear, so look for slim to medium width chains and pendants in silver, brass and gold, which you can team with V-neck tees and vests during summer.
Feel free to layer your necklaces, provided the styles you’ve chosen are slight enough – this works nicely under the collar of a smart shirt buttoned-up to the top.
If metal’s not on your hit list, try a leather or beaded design. These look great combined with unbuttoned (one or two buttons only please) poplin cotton and linen shirts.
- Spiga Necklace Chain 42cm Silver
- Topman Premium Silver Plated Figaro Chain Necklace
- Reclaimed Vintage Gold Plated Necklace
- Maison Martin Margiela Segmented Circle Necklace
- Topman Icon Silver Necklace
- Icon Brand Prime Necklace
- Miansai Hook Necklace Sc78891
- Miansai Noir Anchor Pendant Necklace
- Icon Brand Wild At Heart Necklace
- David Yurman Spiritual Beads Necklace With Stone
- Box Belcher Chain
- Tobias Wistisen Studded Cross Necklace
Far from just an indicator that you’re off the market, rings can be mixed and matched to suit a series of different spring/summer get-ups. While plain gold, rose gold and silver cuffs work well, rings in the same metals tend to look too much like wedding bands.
Instead, try opting for designs cast from oxidised silver, brushed brass and zinc, or go for styles in gold, rose gold and silver that are engraved, feature cut-out/lattice effects or have plaited inserts so as to shake off the matrimonial connotations.
Layer up, and eclectically, for a casual, rock-inflected look with a bohemian edge, or stick to one or two sleek pieces (silver and matte black finishes work well) for combining with tailoring and spring/summer evening attire.
- All_blues Mens Bipolar 6.2 Oxidised Silver Ring
- Acne Studios Oxidized Sterling Silver Ring
- Maison Martin Margiela Rustic Brass Ring
- All_blues X Matthew Miller Marked Silver Ring
- Topman Engraved Ring
- Icon Brand Ring
- Seven London Leather-detail Silver Band Ring
- Reclaimed Vintage Black Stainless Steel Ring
- Topman Icon Silver Ring
- Seven London Life Feather Ring
- Skull Ring Silver
- Saint Laurent Silver-plated Eagle Ring
Though full-on formal wear is probably the last thing you’ll want to be found in on summer’s more scorching days, many of us will have one or two occasions where cufflinks are de rigueur.
While silver and gold styles work well year-round, it’s worth taking advantage of the warmer weather and switching things up a little. Being small and discreet, cufflinks are ideal for introducing some seasonal colour to a white lightweight cotton shirt and beige linen suit combination.
Knot cufflinks, available from the likes of T.M.Lewin, Thomas Pink and John Lewis, come in a wide range of hues and will add a distinctly nautical touch to your attire, while rose gold or copper styles (try Ted Baker or Alice Made This) are both classic and minimal but seem more spring/summer-appropriate than gold or silver.
- T.m.lewin Round Knots Gift Set
- John Lewis Silk Knot Cufflinks Box Of 3 Light Blue/navy/grey
- William Taupe Cufflinks
- T.m.lewin Navy White Knots
- Tateossian Round Knot Cufflinks
- Thomas Pink Gold Knot Cufflinks
- Tateossian Round Knot Cufflinks
- Ted Baker Brushup Crystal Cufflinks
- Edward Copper Cufflinks
- Tateossian Cuff Links
- Lanvin Rose Gold-plated Cufflinks
- Kingsman Deakin & Francis Rose Gold-plated Chevron Cufflinks
Though for many of us accessories are usually an afterthought, it’s worth taking a second to appreciate just how much one or two of these subtle additions can instantly step up your style game – especially during the warmer months.
But above all else, remember that whatever style(s) you choose should look personal, as if they’re subtle extensions of the kind of things you’d find in your wardrobe. You want to wear your jewellery – you don’t want it to wear you.