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Raising the fashion jewellery stakes

Lobe layering and bold statement earrings are just some of the biggest fashion trends right now. ANGELA TUFVESSON scours the globe in search of what’s hot this season.

Fashion is fickle and never more so than in the world of fashion jewellery where bold statement pieces can quickly surpass the delicate look and old rules about which metal goes with what can be thrown out faster than retailers can keep up.

“Whether it’s layers of long fashion necklaces or a mix of petite necklaces in an array of tones, or even mixing the two – fashion and petite – you can never go wrong with layering,”
Tal Manning, Mezi Design and Production Director

So what’s hot this season? Jeweller has investigated the local and international fashion scene to provide insight on how consumers will accessorise with jewellery this spring-summer. From lobe layering to statement earrings and mixed metals, the push for personalisation is in full swing as consumers gravitate towards unique looks.

Layer it on

Fashionistas have been layering fine necklaces and delicate rings for several years; however, the newsflash this season is that the trend of stacking jewellery item upon jewellery item has expanded to include bolder pieces.

Tal Manning, production director at Mezi, says the layering trend is visible across both the Sydney-based fashion jewellery business’ bold fashion statement pieces and ‘petite’ range, which caters for customers who prefer smaller items.

“Whether it’s layers of long fashion necklaces or a mix of petite necklaces in an array of tones, or even mixing the two – fashion and petite – you can never go wrong with layering,” she states.

According to Aristides Fine Jewels founder Claire Aristides, layering is indicative of a broader shift away from consumers favouring just a select few traditional jewellery pieces. It’s a trend she believes is likely to endure.

“Now we’re seeing people wanting more delicate pieces and layering a lot more together.”
Claire Aristides, Aristides Fine Jewels Founder

“Layering – it’s like creating a story,” Aristides says. “Layering and mixing and being adventurous is here to stay because traditionally only having your engagement ring and wedding ring and, say, one special set of pearls or something, all that’s gone. Now we’re seeing people wanting more delicate pieces and layering a lot more together.”

Further, consumers are enjoying greater freedom to mix metals.

“Rose gold was probably seen as a bit ‘granny’ but it’s such a pretty gold and people are coming around to it, especially as everyone is really into mixing metals,” Aristides explains. “We see people buying a thumb ring, a forefinger ring and a pinkie ring in different metals and layering them all together.”

With multiple ear piercings commonplace among younger female consumers, layering isn’t limited to necklaces and rings. Dubbed ‘lobe layering’, this trend is popping up everywhere from New York and Paris to Seoul.

A recent report by Women’s Wear Daily, the renowned fashion-industry trade journal, states that the “piercing paradigm” has changed and secondary holes are now so popular that they are a viable sales opportunity for retailers.

“Until recently, secondary piercings were a sentimental bonding exercise amongst young women or an opportunity to add some pizazz,” the article read. “But now, many girls receive piercings without emotional pretence – considering a new hole as routine as buying a t-shirt. Drop in on any dinner table full of twentysomething New York girls, and you’d be hard-pressed to meet an attendee without a fleet of secondary piercings.”

“Our customers love to mix up miss-matching unique earrings to create a completely customised look.”
Tanja Kovacevic, Petite Grand Owner and Designer

Tanja Kovacevic established her business Petite Grand in 2010 following a 15-year career in the fashion industry. She says the lobe layering trend is evident among Australian consumers and driven by a broad consumer push towards personalisation.

“We have noticed that our customers love pieces that they can layer, particularly with earrings,” Kovacevic explains. “The trend to have more than two ear holes is becoming extremely popular. Our customers love to mix up miss-matching unique earrings to create a completely customised look.”

Still in the ear region, Manning says layered studs, suspenders, ear jackets and crawlers go especially well with the classic casual wear apparel that’s currently on trend.

“Denim is still key for day-to-day wear mixed with casual tees and an oversized blazer, which leaves your palette very neutral to be more daring with your jewellery choices or allows for a cool layering look,” she states. “A cool androgynous look with a layered lobe [is] often worn by our customers in our Bondi boutique.”

Make a Statement

Despite the popularity of layering, there is one trend that many industry commentators nominate as the key look this season: statement earrings.

“Statement earrings continue their run of popularity and are the jewellery piece of the season,” states Maia Adams, head of global research at jewellery trend analysis and market intelligence agency Adorn Insight.

Aristides Fine Jewels
Aristides Fine Jewels

Indeed, Harper’s Bazaar reports one of the biggest talking points at this year’s Fashion Week Australia was sculptural jewellery pieces like bold, miss-matching earrings and exaggerated half-moon shaped earrings.

Adams says statement earrings are indicative of a larger trend that makes use of unusual shapes and textures.

“Across the board from fast fashion through to bridge and up to fine and high jewellery, we are thrilled to see an interest in material innovation,” she explains. “At the fashion end of the market this can be seen in mixed media – fabric, wood, recycled plastics – and ‘found object’ pieces – shells, in particular, [like] Prada’s puka shell necklaces.”

Roza Topolnicka, head of creative and retail marketing at Swarovski Gemstones, and Manning list hoop earrings and oversized tassel earrings as characteristic of this trend.

“This season our Zola Tassel Earrings have been a sell out,” Manning says. “This style mixes the delicate threaded tassels with beautiful Swarovski crystal elements. The rich texture found in these bohemian earrings have made them one of our most popular items this season.”

“Statement earrings continue their run of popularity and are the jewellery piece of the season.”
Maia Adams, Adorn Insight Head of Global Research

Why so big? Industry online journal Business of Fashion attributes the popularity of statement earrings to the not-so-humble selfie and paired-back trends in apparel.

“Whereas once costume jewellery was excessively piled on with a full face of make-up and bouffant hair, today it is an accent to oversized shirting and distressed denim; the focal point of the ‘no make-up’ make-up look and abbreviated elfin hairdos. Earrings (or earring, singular) can create a sense of personality for someone who dresses simply,” the report read.

“It can even create an entire look for a FaceTime or Skype conversation, even if one’s bottom half is still dressed for sleep. Essentially, statement earrings are what shoes were to Carrie Bradshaw for a generation who wear Stan Smiths [sneakers].”

The Bigger Picture

Ultimately, Topolnicka says these trends speak to a broader shift in fashion that’s less about rules and more about expression of individual style. Consumers are mixing pieces from luxury and high-street jewellery brands to create eclectic, unique looks.

“Eclecticism is what we see everywhere – on the streets, on the catwalks and in social media,” she states. “There are no boundaries in mixing and matching – we have already got used to the look where a Chanel bag can be paired with a basic H&M t-shirt and the same becomes more and more relevant for jewellery.”

Kovacevic agrees: “High-end brands such as Gucci and Versace are really influencing trends by using bold and experimental shapes, colours and materials that consumers want to incorporate into their everyday wardrobe to add some personality. There is also a desire for handcrafted pieces that customers feel an emotional connection to and which reflect their own unique style.”

In fact, Topolnicka believes dramatic consumer preferences for mixing and matching may even cause a shift in the way new designs become available to consumers.

“In 2016, brands like Burberry, Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren offered instantly shoppable ‘see now-buy now’ collections during their shows,” she says.

“More designers are questioning the whole system and pace of the fashion industry, like Raf Simons who left Dior in 2015 and the recent announcement from the uber-successful Gvasalia brothers from Vetements informing that they will stop doing seasonal collections and are moving from stressful Paris to quiet Zurich. All this creates a very interesting mood of change which will, for sure, also shape the jewellery industry.”

The future of the ever-changing fashion jewellery sector might be anyone’s guess; however, retailers can be sure that layering and bold statement earrings are capturing consumer sentiment right now, and trends in apparel and macro influences like social media and personalisation will continue to impact what consumers demand.

Angela Tufvesson

Angela Tufvesson is a journalist with 10 years’ experience writing for many of Australia’s well-known consumer and trade magazines. She is a freelance contributor to Jeweller reporting on various aspects of the jewellery industry.

SAMS Group Australia

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