Man Enough

Fact: men have dramatically increased spending on jewelry, fashion and personal grooming over the past 10 years. If you compare today’s numbers to men’s purchasing patterns in the 1990s, the boom men’s jewelry is experiencing is one of the most relevant and impactful changes in the category.

Total sales of men’s accessories in the U.S. jumped nearly 29 percent from 2012 to 2014, rising from $11.5 billion to $14.8 billion, with jewelry sales surging from $2.9 billion to $4.3 billion during that period, reports the NPD Group.

There has been significant growth of men’s luxury accessories from 2009 to 2014 for various categories with increases upwards of 50% for items like jewelry, watches, bags, and shoes, cites Euromonitor International. It reports men in the U.S. more likely to buy stylish accessories due to greater availability, changing styles at work, demographic shifts, and new societal norms on grooming.

There’s greater information available for men as to what to wear and how to wear it, more blogs and social media posts spotlighting street style, and celebrities like Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Bradley Cooper are seen piling jewelry on, credits Ruth Grothaus, merchandise manager, IB Goodman, Newport, Kentucky.

With GQ proclaiming “Be a Man: Wear Jewelry” the nod’s given to men to explore jewelry, and the more that’s out there the more the category will grow.

Layers of Style
Seasonal runway shows for men’s apparel are presenting a whole picture of style, with the Fashion Times calling out the most popular accessories for men including beads, necklaces and wristbands with bohemian flare, and sculptural brooches and pendant necklaces that add an air of polish to more austere styles. Bands, with or without stones, and chain bracelets too are favorites.

In fact, stacking bracelets is a huge trend for men, and mixing different types like chain, leather and beads, and layering pendant necklaces, says Scott Rauch, president SHR Jewelry Group, New York, hinting of a major men’s jewelry launch mid-September. “Fueling this category is more product that speaks to the modern man, who’s receptive to a range of styles in precious and alternative materials.”

Grothaus says IB Goodman is answering the call to layer with two new lines of its own. The “Made in the USA” collection offers mixable leather bands in three colors and sizes, with an assortment of interchangeable silver clasps. “It mixes well with our other leather and metal bracelets.” The brand also launched Luxury Gold and Diamond bracelets in 1-carat to 4-carat versions that are customizable—made in any karat weight, color gold, platinum or silver, or gems.

To its popular Leslie brand, Quality Gold added more men’s options in 10K and 14K link chain and bracelets in different lengths and widths to satisfy customer requests. Karen Crowe, marketing and merchandising for the Fairfield, Ohio manufacturer says contemporary metals like stainless steel and titanium remain favorites. “They’re durable and we enjoy mixing them with carbon fiber, leather, diamonds, and gold.” Think its Chisel and Edward Mirell brands.

Sales demonstrate that bracelets are a strong category throughout all metal types, cites Cora-Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser for Quality Gold. “Men are layering multiple smaller pieces in bracelets, as well as pendant necklaces. Religious themes are a staple, with crosses and saints’ medals consistently turning well.”

Color & Classic
Color too is a key design direction for men, whether it’s in bezel set gemstones, gem beads, enamel, carbon fiber or wood inlay, or metal.

Bead bracelets are especially popular in gems like tiger’s eye and lava that appeal to guys of all ages and demographics, says Wendy Fox, director of sales independent division, Richline, New York and its Dolan Bullock brand.

IB Goodman also sees success with two new collections of steel accessories using high quality abalone and mother-of pearl, sealed with an enamel finish, in money clips, cufflinks, and more. Grothaus notes that rose gold and rose-colored metals are important ways for men to add color in every category and price point.

Next to bracelets, traditional accessories like cuff links, tie bars and lapel pins are touted by bloggers as must-haves in any style arsenal, says Fox. “There’s more attention given to these classically male props, but with a twist in designs that are more contemporary and fashion-forward.”

Watch Men
Watches top almost every list of must-have accessories in a guy’s wardrobe, No. 1 or close. Watches round out any men’s department.

Watch trends at recent trade shows saw a surge in collections featuring slim cases, cites Thierry Casias, creative director for the New York brand, Bulova that launched its own ultra slim case at only 5.6mm.

Citizen too is celebrating 40 years of its Eco-Drive technology with one of thinnest, light-powered watches in the world at 2.98mm. Samantha Barker, public relations and social media coordinator, Citizen, New York says the design has had an impact on the fashion world.

Not just thin, but lightweight too, cites Barker. “Men are more active, so a watch that goes from gym to office is important. Lightweight materials add to the comfort level. Citizen created a proprietary Super Titanium collection of watches that contain a durable coating to make what starts out as a soft material into something that’s five times stronger than stainless steel and 40% lighter.”

Black finishes are trending in many collections, cites Casia, with Bulova’s interpretation popping yellow and rose gold details on dress styles, and primary color highlights on sportier models. Moreover, the brand has capitalized on the trend for blue in men’s watchcases, dials and straps.

Overall, consumers are driven toward technology and minimal maintenance, says Priscilla-Marie Ilarraza, Seiko, New York, citing its Astron GPS and Radio Sync Solar technologies. “As travel continues to increase personally and professionally, travel-friendly watches are more popular with designs that allow for smooth transitions from work to personal interests.”