The last 12 months have been marked by the seals of comfort and ease. Stuck at home, with our social interactions largely limited to our apps, we have increasingly turned to pajamas and casual clothes for everyday dressing. But despite this trend, more surprising products have seen a surge in demand recently. Trousers with elastic waistbands and clothes with comfortable fabrics have been a success out of nowhere, of course. But consumers have also increasingly turned to jewellery.
2020 and 2021, years of men's jewelry
The rise of men's jewelry can be seen as a counter-trend to the one that made comfortable clothing so popular. But it also allows their owners to easily transform their everyday outfit. “Dressing up smart and casual has never been so relevant. A nice piece of jewelry instantly elevates a more casual look,” explains Damien Paul, Head of Men's Fashion at Matchesfashion. This online store has increased its offer of men's jewelry by more than 50% for the spring-summer 2021 collection.
And if more and more men are buying jewellery, they are turning to an increasingly varied range of pieces. “ Whether a piece of jewelry is timeless and understated or daring, men of different tastes and styles are experimenting with jewelry. While having the certainty that they will wear them well beyond a season or 2”, continues Paul. “While some of our customers like to wear one or two distinctive pieces, others like to change their jewelry regularly. They like to combine different pieces according to their outfit, or wear them in accumulation.»
In addition, men are increasingly turning their backs on the most well-known brands. Instead, it favors smaller designers, independent brands and more unique men's jewelry. “I would say that men are looking to more unusual and beautifully crafted pieces from talented jewelry designers rather than big established brands,” adds Paul. “The story and the unique character of the brand are essential. Consumers also appreciate when the jewel is handcrafted. With precious stones or pearls. More and more men want their jewelry to be individualized. »
Very good, one of the spearheads of the trend
Très Bien, a brand with boutiques in Malmö and London, has played its part in establishing the success of emerging jewelers. The designer recently launched a selection of jewelry featuring sterling silver pieces designed by 3 rising stars of men's jewelry design. "People want to wear designs they can associate with real people," said Alexander Francis, Buyer and Brand Manager of Très Bien. “ Personal connection is a very important factor right now. Plus, with anything handmade, no two pieces are the same, which makes these pieces of jewelry even more desirable. »
Paul and Francis believe this growth is just the beginning for men's jewelry.It could take several directions. " There really is no limit to what happens next, " says Paul. “Whether you're a bohemian or a social media influencer, I think we're going to see more and more jewelry with stones. I expect to see continued growth in sales of men's necklaces. Whether it's a simple string or something more meaningful. And, of course, more and more men are turning to bracelets to go with a rocking watch.»
Francis thinks, and hopes, that habits will change dramatically. "Right now we see a lot of people wearing chains and rings accumulating," he says. “But I think a 'less but better' approach is going to win jewelry. And hopefully the fashion industry in general. I would like to see people take a more qualitative than quantitative approach. See them acquire men's jewelry that can be passed down from generation to generation.» Whether you want to expand your jewelry collection or just want to stick with the classics, here are 3 emerging men's jewelry designers you need to know.
A men's jewelery designer who has made a name for himself is Bleue Burnham. This is a jeweler based in East London. Burnham, an autodidact, describes his work as “a conversation between fine jewelry and the beauty of the natural world, human culture, plant kingdom and wildlife. »
The relationship between jewelry and the natural world is reflected in Burnham's designs. They mix silver and gold with lab-grown colored gemstones. The focus is on ethics and sustainable trade. During his career, Burnham was responsible for the sustainable development of Oliver Spencer, which gives an added dimension to his new jewelry brand.
Most Burnham Blue jewelry is made from recycled silver and gold. Its website states that it is committed to reducing the brand's footprint through careful choices in terms of materials, shipping methods and packaging.
Burnham is just one name among a growing number of emerging men's jewelry designers. He believes that this success is the result of strong consumer demand. “The jewelry world has remained fairly stagnant. There were only a few channels of creative thought: gothic, massive, skull-shaped pieces; literal designs or clean, minimalist jewelry,” he says. “If you compare jewelry with the clothing industry, it seems antiquated. Clothing fashion has evolved much more creatively. There's so much room for more creative exploration, and I feel like these up-and-coming designers are doing it.»
Like his colleagues and stores that sell jewelry, Burnham has seen men's jewelry grow in popularity over the past year. Highlighting steady growth and strong relationships with dealers, Burnham adds: “I really think men appreciate jewelry more. But I don't know if this is related to confinements or simply to the evolution of men's aspirations in terms of fashion. »
Also based in London, SWEETLIMEJUICE is described by co-founder Simpson Ma as a “luxury fashion jewelry brand based on experimental craftsmanship. » The house explains its unusual name as a rejection of the world of jewelry, which it is trying to shake off.
Founded in 2018 by Ma and fellow London College of Fashion graduate Jovy Hon, SWEETLIMEJUICE blends traditional techniques with progressive ideas. Most often through the wrapping of stones in denim to create 925 silver men's jewelry. "We focus on reinterpreting traditional craft techniques to create contemporary jewelry," adds Ma.
As a rising jewelry brand, SWEETLIMEJUICE is part of a global phenomenon of the rise of small retailers. "It's both exciting and challenging," says Ma. “Customers today have a stronger desire for jewelry that can truly represent their personality. They are much more open to jewelry made with unusual materials or worn in an unconventional way. This gives us more flexibility to express our creativity. However, it is also becoming easier and easier to create a jewelry brand. There are countless brands you can buy online, at all price points. So it's harder than ever to stand out. We spent a lot of time finding our niche. »
Last year also had an impact on SWEETLIMEJUICE, both in terms of production and customer base. Ma reveals in particular that he experienced difficulties in supplying washed denim. The pandemic has allowed him to have more time to focus on the creations. “Most of our customers are still passionate about jewelry, even if they are stuck at home,” Ma said. “ If people tend to neglect their attire, they play with jewelry in order to alter their appearance. I also think wearing a necklace or a ring has an immediate comforting effect. Some particularly like to play with their rings while they type on their keyboard. »
Jewelry designer Georgia Kemball describes her work as both "inspired by magic and mysticism" and having "a kind of raw and wild”. Both approaches are visible in his creations. They are available from merchants such as MatchesFashion, LN-CC and Machine A. These men's jewels feature characters such as goblins or Cupid. They are hand sculpted in wax before being immortalized in sterling silver and gold.
Another source of inspiration for Kemball is the bond between the jewel and its wearer. Like Burnham and the SWEETLIMEJUICE team, Kemball finds that the rise of alternative creators is something important to wear. “I find creating jewelry to be quite a lonely experience,” she said. “So it's nice to be part of a larger community and feel like you're part of something bigger." She thinks the trend of gifting men's jewelry has played a part in her success. "When you give a gift, you want to give something original, something that has a special meaning. »