The brand’s designer and marketing manager on marketing unisex jewels.
As part of our April issue we took a closer look at how gender shapes jewellery design and the rise of androgynous jewellery styles. Nadia Huffmeyer, marketing manager at Dutch silver brand Buddha to Buddha and Lotte van Tongeren, the brand’s head designer share their views on creating and marketing unisex jewellery.
Professional Jeweller: Do androgynous or unisex influences shape your work, and if so in what way?
Nadia Huffmeyer: Unisex is part of our Buddha to Buddha DNA. We only work with sterling silver which we often combine with leather. These materials appeal to both men and women and they complement virtually every style. This is very different from brands and designers working with materials such as pearls, lacy fabrics and or rose gold which are rarely seen on men.
Unlike many other brands we didn’t create a separate collection for either men or women, our jewellery has always been targeted at both audiences and we were known for this from the beginning. If unisex means it appeals to everybody, then yes, we are most definitely a unisex brand.
PJ: Do you specify which of your pieces are more suited to men or women, even though the majority of the lines are unisex?
Lotte van Tongeren: From the very beginning we have made unisex bracelets in two lengths for both women and men to wear and we offer all ring sizes for our designs regardless of whether we think the style is more feminine or masculine. We don’t specify who should buy what, we let the customer decide. There are definitely pieces that will be bought more by either of the two sexes. Women in general prefer bracelets and rings that are smaller in width because they simply fit better on the body and will also choose pieces that have floral engravings, mother of pearl or black and white zirconia for a more feminine look. On the other hand we have very heavy solid silver bracelets that only fit around a man’s wrist.
PJ: How relevant are cultural or catwalk trends in shaping Buddha to Buddha’s jewellery demand or styles?
LvT: Our Buddha to Buddha collection is non-seasonal and some of our bestsellers have been in the collection for over seven years. It is our strength that even though we are very aware of cultural and catwalk trends, we translate these into a timeless concept. We always try to emphasise that our pieces are long-term investments; they will keep their value and never go out of style, like a pair of 501 Levi’s jeans, a Burberry mac or Converse All-stars trainers. The androgynous look is one trend where all of our pieces work well. We see women wearing big, chunky pieces with dainty dresses and men in suits with several smaller silver and leather bracelets bunched together.
PJ: Which pieces in your collection do you believe have unisex or androgynous appeal?
NH: Looking purely at sales, there are definitely some types of linked bracelets such as the 080 Chain, 151 Edwin Small and 158 Esther Small that are sold 50/50 to men and women.
PJ: What makes a piece of jewellery gender non-specific?
LvT: Sizing is very important when you carry a unisex collection, as is the material. Silver is worn well by both men and women and our chain linked bracelets have a certain neutral appearance which is gender non-specific.
PJ: How do you successfully market jewellery to males and females at the same time?
NH: In our campaigns we use male and female models and they both wear all of our pieces mixed together: old, new, bold, and delicate. It’s entirely up to our end customer to decide what works for them. Our packaging and display material is also very neutral in colour with mostly black, white, beige and a dash in natural materials which complements the craftsmanship of our pieces.
PJ: What type of shopper buys unisex jewellery?
NH: Our customer is someone that wants unique, quality pieces, craftsmanship, timeless designs, durable materials, a story, a brand with a history and a positive brand philosophy.