Manly jewellery, or the delicate art of gendered marketing

Recently, I have started making cufflinks. I had wanted for a while now to try making jewellery for men. I did not expect to stumble upon the very type of obstacle I hate most, which made me question my design choices a lot more than usual.

jewellery for men

 

Jewellery is for girls

This notion, as sexist and moronic as it is, is everywhere. Real men don’t wear accessories, they are not interested in fashion, and if they do there must be something wrong with them. I will not rant too long on this matter because there is so much to say and I don’t feel qualified enough for it. But there is something furiously unhealthy in our society.

 

Manly designs

When you look up “jewellery for men” on the internet, you get very simple things made with leather, metal, chain. The designs have lots of angles and straight lines, dark colours, wide seams or links, rough looks.

It would seem the 21st century man is supposed to be a suit-clad caveman with everything about him very large and very sturdy (there was so much potential for a joke about size and/or hardness here, be thankful I’m a classy person).

So here I come, all about round shapes and lively colours, ready to conquer the manly market. I would love to make things in leather but it’s not something one can improvise; I have too much to learn before starting and now is not the time. Metal is coming, but slowly. This was not looking very promising…

 

Go old or go funny

After a time of reflexion, the first easy-to-make accessories I decided to try were cufflinks. I liked this idea because I could keep using the materials I enjoy: metal and gemstones.

But cufflinks are either old school or a joke: as far as I know, nowadays, people only buy it for occasions such as weddings or to make a silly gift. I guess it says a lot about how masculinity in fashion has changed over time. Accessories for men, I find, are very limited, just like styles of clothes. Professional wear? Nothing much there except suits. Formal event? Suits again, or maybe a tuxedo if it is really formal.

For women, on any day and any occasion, tons of options are available! Who said that men don’t like diversity in their clothing and women do? Why is it considered effeminate for a man to like jewellery? And why would something ‘effeminate’ on a man be such a bad thing anyway?

 

Marketing outside of the box

We are all influenced by the buttloads of images and sounds we receive daily, that spread all the dumbest clichés. I look at what I make and keep wondering: ‘Is it too girly?’. And then I get pissed off at myself for falling into that trap again.

I have yet to find the delicate balance needed to try to make things that get out of those stupid constraints while also trying to sell them. It is not easy to reconcile your deepest convictions with… well, marketing.

 

In the end, I still finished my cufflinks. I made them in my own style and I’m happy with them. I am not one to be discouraged by ideas I despise, however prevalent they may be.

jewellery for men

Does this look girly to you? I don’t know anymore. I have decided to stop caring.

 

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