Here come the boys… male consumers are no longer just looking for their other halves, but they are increasingly choosing to adorn their outfits with jewellery as well.
Gone are the days where male shoppers are limited to watches and wedding rings. Today’s dapper gents are looking for jewellery that can be worn every day and/ or for special occasions.
Men’s jewellery may be a small part of the market, but it certainly shouldn’t be ignored. Across the board, experts are reporting a rise men buying fashion accessories, and British jewellers should make sure they are not missing out on this growing area of the market.
Chana Baram, a retail analyst at award-winning market research provider, Mintel, says men are increasingly spending more and more on their appearance, and for the modern man — jewellery is key.
Baram tells Professional Jeweller: “As traditional rules regarding masculinity and femininity are breaking down, particularly among younger generations, both men and women are opting to buy into many items previously perceived as exclusive to one gender. Whilst it is unlikely that the men’s jewellery market will truly compete with the women’s anytime soon, there is no denying that this part of the market is becoming increasingly important. More brands and retailers should be giving men’s jewellery dedicated space in-store.”
She continues: “We see in our research that men are increasingly spending more and are more interested in their appearance. Jewellery is no exception, and there is a trend for men to wear both fashion jewellery and precious jewellery with gemstones.”
Sales from the UK’s leading men’s jewellery suppliers also back Mintel’s research.
Compared to the same period in 2018, lifestyle brand Anchor & Crew has seen website sales increase by around 70% from the beginning of the year to date, with the team expecting this trend to carry through to the end of the year.
Award winning supplier, Unique & Co, continues to see a lift in men’s jewellery sales. Last year the firm reported an 8% increase in sales compared to 2017, and this year has got off to a very promising start with further growth despite a generally challenging market.
“As one of the leading men’s jewellery brands in the UK we have seen an increased interest in men’s jewellery over the years,” shares Unique & Co founder, Daniel Ozel, adding: “Sales through our existing retailers have grown consistently and our accounts have also grown reflecting the interest for men’s jewellery from both the retailer and ultimately the customer.”
Out of the big fashion brands, Thomas Sabo has been the only one to fully embrace the men’s jewellery market, with new pieces being added for male consumers every season.
Managing director for Thomas Sabo in the UK, Tony Bjork, shares: “Men’s jewellery has been performing well and as seasons go on, has been steadily growing as more men discover our range of jewellery and become comfortable with experimenting with layering different types of jewellery, rings, necklaces and bracelets. We have one of the largest and strongest collections of men’s jewellery on the high street, so this is good to see.”
Discussing the wholesale side of the business, he adds: “We are definitely seeing an increasing interest, and in fact are working with several of our key accounts to ensure the men’s jewellery stands out: especially now that it represents a larger part of their buy, to ensure men see this distinction and sales are strong.
British brand, Deakin & Francis, has also witnessed an increase in men’s jewellery sales throughout the past year.
Creative director, James Deakin, remarks: “The men’s market has evolved at speed, with some countries more open to this than others, but there is healthy appetite for the men’s jewellery market and its ongoing progression, with designers testing and pushing boundaries and consumers adopting new styles.”
Buckley London is one of a number of brands to move into the men’s jewellery market over the last 12 months, with others set to increase their focus on this sector of the trade in the second half of the year.
Reflecting on the first year stocking men’s goods, Buckley London’s design director, Christina Lenihan, shares: “We have been very excited to see men’s jewellery performing well within our sales data. We have seen our existing customer increasingly drawn to the modern and wearable styles. We are little over a year into the first collections being introduced to the public and as a whole, they are increasing in popularity. Our high street partners have relayed to us that the ranges have been received well.”
While more brands and designers are embracing men’s jewellery, many British jewellers have been slow to tap into this particular sector of the market.
Anchor & Crew managing director, Andrew Warner, remarks: “The trade is still being slow to act compared to the consumer. We are being inundated daily asking for local stockists around the country and around the world but the retailers are still not confident in expanding into this area of the jewellery world.”
Pearse Curran, the founder of luxury men’s jewellery brand, Oscar Graves, says the limited space for men’s jewellery on the British high street remains a challenge.
He tells Professional Jeweller: “The men’s jewellery sector has been great for us this year. We have moved more into direct to consumer. In our opinion, the trade can still be quite nervous of men’s jewellery and understandably so.
“The challenge for men’s jewellery has never changed; lack of appropriate space given to men’s jewellery displays,” continues Curran, with Gecko’s creative director,
Desiree Pringle, adding: “I believe if men’s jewellery was given more prominence in-store consumers would be more drawn to it.”
While retailers may be slow to make space for men’s jewellery, the stores that have embraced this sector of the market have not regretted it.
Ozel from Unique & Co reports: “Retailers are happy with the sales and it’s a growing category. We get more retailers taking our brand on, but also existing retailers are dedicating more and better shop space. It a category for them to grow and also to stand out from competition.”
Thomas Sabo’s MD for the UK adds: “Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, one of the reasons we have seen more partners take more men’s jewellery is that it is such a growth segment, and more and more men are looking to experiment with their jewellery collections.”
Earlier feedback from retailers stocking Buckley London’s men’s jewellery offer has also been positive.
Interestingly, data shows both male and female consumers are buying into this category for Buckley London.
“Our sales data confirms consistent sell-through of the men’s collections from both our male and female customers, showing that women are also purchasing our product to gift to the men in their life,” shares Lenihan. “We have also found that brand loyalty is very important to our male customers, differing to women who will happily purchase from multiple retailers depending on the product and style they are looking for, men will tend to find a brand they like and purchase from them going forwards.”
So if men’s jewellery sales are on the rise, what’s catching the eye of the male consumer?
Buckley London says men are moving away from traditional styles as they choose to wear jewellery to complete a look.
Inspired by celebrities and influencers, men are being encouraged to find their own jewellery style — with stacking and layering being a continued trend in this sector of the market.
Warner from Anchor & Crew remarks: “There is a current trend for layering different types of bracelet together, with them being different types of bracelet all on one wrist so a beaded bracelet with a bangle with a leather bracelet for instance. Bracelets are still the strongest area for us and is an ever increasing market.”
Bracelets are still dominating in the men’s jewellery category. Whether that be from male consumers buying easy-to-wear leather wristwear and simple bangles, or shoppers playing with different colours and textured designs.
“One of the biggest trends remains layering and stacking of wristwear,” states Ozel. “Our collection of bracelets with multiple strands have sold extremely well.
Plating details in black, blue and rose gold are also popular and we are bringing in more plating finishes in gold, bronze and brushed for AW19.”
Alongside bracelets, retailers and suppliers are noting a sales increase for rings. At Thomas Sabo, men are investing in statement and chunkier ring designs, whereas
Unique & Co consumers are buying rings with subtle design details as a general style accessory.
For fine jewellery rings, men are experimenting with unique touches for wedding bands and signet rings continue to shine.
Domino Jewellery’s creative director, Naomi Newton-Sherlock, tells Professional Jeweller: “Finishing touches/ textures are very popular for men’s wedding rings as it gives them the opportunity to personalise a classic wedding band, making it personal to them. Matt/ satin finishes and grooves have been popular for many years now. More recently hand finished looks such as hammered effects are becoming very popular with artisan products back in vogue.”
The creative director adds: “Signet rings have always been a popular, classic piece of jewellery but we have seen an increase in consumer interest as the trend has grown over recent years. The popularity of signet rings goes hand in hand with the personalisation trend — providing the perfect space for an engraving, whether it be laser, seal or hand engraved. People may not be using signet rings to seal envelopes any more, but they are definitely using them to stamp their own mark on their individual look.”
Deakin & Francis creative director, James Deakin, echoes: “Our managing director Henry Deakin has noticed a trend for bespoke, statement pieces. He has been designing personalised signet rings, with a twist! You know what they say, the bigger the better, and this is definitely the case at the moment. People want items that will set them apart from others; be a talking point.”
For men looking to accessorise a suit and add a piece of jewellery to an outfit for a formal occasion, cufflinks still have an important role to play, alongside tie and lapel pins.
“Our cufflinks continue to be our best seller, even though men are not wearing cufflinks as frequently, they are seen as more of an accessory for a special occasion.
Whether this be for a job interview, a special night out, a date or a wedding, cufflinks always polish off a complete sartorial look,” says Tateossian founder, Robert Tateossian.
Necklaces are slowly starting to gain more interest, but bracelets and rings are by far the order of the day when it comes to men’s jewellery.
For jewellery retailers looking to bolster the men’s jewellery side of their business suppliers believe more space needs to be dedicated to this product category in-store so men feel more confident buying and styling.
Rather than simply viewing men’s jewellery as an add-on, more could be done to make this sector of the market a sparkling success.
By giving men’s jewellery more space, male consumers will feel more comfortable browsing, and it may stand-out more to female shoppers too.
“The sector needs some jewellers to take the safe risk and actually stock a range of men’s jewellery, not just a single brand of jewellery, but two or three different brands to provide choice for the consumer. They will soon see a good business in this area and also many a repeat customer,” says Warner.
He continues: “Most of the retailers are pushing the ladies side of the business or the watch side of the business and using gents jewellery as an add-on rather than doing a focus area on men which is wrong as they a missing a key growing demographic. Most boys (13 to 18 years old) are regularly buying bracelets from the likes to Topman, River Island and Burton Menswear but as these boys grow older and into men they then lack the places to purchase men’s jewellery apart from online.”
Suppliers also recognise a need to build brand awareness and educate men on the options available to them.
Unique & Co has been working hard behind the scenes updating its marketing materials and store displays in order to help retailers sell their offer.
“The marketing is important to make men aware to wear more jewellery,” says Daniel Ozel, with Robert Tateossian adding: “I feel more education on how we can wear and style jewellery and how we can stack bracelets is needed. Also, we need to continue to create more visibility on a brand’s profile, taking advantage of all the social platforms and how we can be clever and confident with marketing, specifically via celebrities, influencers, actors etc.”
Robert Tateossian continues: “Several of our key retailers have made sure there is expansive counter space on the shop floor for our product. For example, Harrods has revamped the men’s cufflinks area — this helps promote the product and strengthens the products over-all aesthetic.”
Furthermore, retailers shouldn’t forget to utilise the same tools used to enhance women’s jewellery sales.
For example, promotions on men’s jewellery products, particularly around occasions like Father’s Day, have proven to bolster business.
Events are also popular, whether dedicated to men’s jewellery alone, or as part of a wider bridal or in-store event.
Additionally, trade professionals selling men’s jewellery shouldn’t neglect the female shopper who could purchase items as a gift.
Pearse Curran of Oscar Graves warns: “Historically women have not been too keen on men’s jewellery. This, in our opinion, is down to design reasons, nothing else. Men’s jewellery designs need to be elevated to a level where not only are men interested but women are too. It has been one of the main reasons Oscar Graves rings have been so successful for us. Women are very much attracted to them and can visualise their spouse wearing a piece.”
Digital also plays an important role in this sector of the market as men look to influencers for style guidance.