Taking a cue, many brands and labels are offering new-age design sensibilities, blending the masculine with the feminine
Last year, luxury label Louis Vuitton introduced LV Volt, a collection of unisex jewellery featuring the iconic LV initials on bracelets, rings, pendants and bangles in both silver and gold. Rich with ultra-graphic lines and liquid fluidity, the statement-making collection was designed by Francesca Amfitheatrof, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director for watches and jewellery, who is also a creator for Thief & Heist, a unisex jewellery brand. The campaign film featured a diverse group of people — Paris Opera Ballet’s principal dancer Hugo Marchand, Swedish Oscar-winning actor Alicia Vikander, French artist Sharon Alexie, and Chinese model XiaoXing Mao.
By bringing out gender-fluid jewellery, the iconic brand is just keeping up with the times. Today, accessorising is in no way different from the way we dress up and so many brands and labels are offering new-age design sensibilities in pieces like chains, bracelets, rings, etc, blending masculine and feminine fashion.
Not just Louis Vuitton, Italian luxury jewellery and watch brand Bvlgari’s new collection, titled B.Zero1 Rock, is also a genderless one, inspired from gas pipes and the Colosseum of Rome. “Why should jewellery be segregated by gender?” asks Delhi-based Eishita Puri, the founder of homegrown jewellery brand Eurumme, which has a range of gender-fluid accessories. “The same chain, for example, can be worn by all genders, if designed mindfully,” she adds.
There are brands galore across the globe today that offer choices in gender-fluid jewellery. Miami-based Eliou, the brand adorned by American model Gigi Hadid, is the brainchild of Duda Teixeira and Cristina Mantilla. It offers handmade and personalised necklaces in beads, pearls and shells, as well as a unique range of hand-embroidered earrings in a sophisticated casual collection suitable for all age groups.
Closer home, we have Delhi-based brand Outhouse, which offers modern and minimal gold jewellery and has an interesting take on necklaces, which can be seen in their many commercial campaigns worn by both men and women. Kolkata-based Perthro, founded by Ritumainty Mondal, too, has minimalistic dainty designs.
Then, of course, there is Mia, a lightweight trendy jewellery collection from Tanishq. One of its pieces is a clear-cut, moulded bejewelled diamond brooch or lapel pin in the shape of a dragonfly. It is suited for denims, jackets, coats and saris. What’s even more interesting is that the design and contours of the sassy silver piece are not segregated by gender. There are several other non-binary pieces on offer that are either size-agnostic or can be ordered in a wide range of sizes, conforming to the core design codes of being lightweight, minimal and internationally-styled.
So what do designers keep in mind while designing such jewellery? According to Puri, gender is a social construct and one needs to keep the basic tenets in mind for a unisex design. “While designing a gender-fluid piece, I try not to think about which gender I’m designing for… instead, I think about the individual I’m creating for.
Some days one may feel masculine, other days feminine… to each their own! The key point is that the piece must have actual usability for all genders,” asserts Puri, who launched Eurumme in 2015. The brand’s pieces are often adorned by celebrities, including actors Sonam Kapoor Ahuja and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
The boom in the trend can be credited to men, especially those in the public eye, who have dared to push the envelope, breaking stereotypes and making fashion statements. “The concept of gender-fluid jewellery has had a huge push in recent times due to a fresh perspective in fashion expression and style of younger television and entertainment idols like Harry Styles, Ranveer Singh, etc, to name a few,” shares Mumbai-based Percy Visaria, designer-founder, Soulful, a unisex classic fusion brand. “Gender-fluid pieces in gold, brass and other metals are making a strong style aesthetic for 2021 and the demand in India is definitely growing, as easy-to-style pieces have a higher demand than vibrant statement pieces,” she adds.
Odisha-born and New York-based fashion designer Bibhu Mohapatra agrees: “The style has been mainly led by young artists and entertainers like American actor Timothee Chalamet and Canadian singer Shawn Mendes. The all-gender and versatile pieces in natural diamonds, pearls, necklaces, stud earrings, bracelets, collar pins, tuxedo stud sets are equally adorned by men and have become some of the biggest trends, now permeated into the mainstream,” says Mohapatra, who launched his first fine jewellery collection Artemis, in collaboration with Forevermark, a De Beers group of company, in 2016. The designer is known for his signature dresses and sharply-cut jackets, which became collector’s pieces, drawing the attention of powerhouses such as Lupita Nyong’o, Gwyneth Paltrow and former First Lady Michelle Obama, who wore an original Bibhu Mohapatra for her first visit to India.
Industry insights from The Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index, in the 12-month period ending December 2020, has jewellery as the most preferred passion-led investment, followed by art, watches, wine and classic cars from the Indian UHNWIs’ vantage.
The first-ever jewellery trend report (2021) by Natural Diamond Council (NDC) also suggests how men and women are wearing the same pieces today, but in a very individualistic manner and that’s what gender-fluid jewellery is all about. “Last year has been difficult for all and it changed the way we seek happiness and most importantly our purchase decisions. Things that are meaningful and last forever hold value for us. Owing to this sentiment, our report showcases natural diamonds like never seen before and hold importance in the future of jewellery,” says Richa Singh, managing director, NDC India.
However, men’s jewellery is still in its infancy with just a few brands offering it. Contemporary men’s jewellery is also a completely untapped sector. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” says Delhi-based Armaan Narang, founder of Amyr, a bespoke jewellery brand curated exclusively for men, “I’m not saying that fine jewellery is a necessity, but India boasts of one of the largest gems and jewellery industries in the world, yet fashionable jewellery is completely untapped.”
Amyr offers bold designs for Gen Z and modern-day youngsters. Narang feels the need is to tap the Instagram-obsessed, clout-hunting hype beasts who want versatility and personalisation. “Their buying decisions aren’t just based on price, but a brand’s differentiating factor, something unique which will complement and enhance their personality,” he says.
As far as gender-fluid jewellery is concerned, the growth is slow but steady as more and more brands embrace the trend. “It’d be inaccurate to say that there’s huge demand, but there’s certainly growing demand in this space. The trajectory is slow but steady,” says Puri of Eurumme.
Amazon Fashion, which houses an array of gender-fluid jewellery, ranging from around 2,000 styles in precious to 40,000 styles in imitation jewellery, has seen good demand. “We have seen an increase in the share of gender-neutral customer intent by ~41% y-o-y from Amazon customers in Q1 2021. We believe that there is a great deal of potential and most of the demand is going to shift towards eliminating the gender label altogether,” says Saurabh Srivastava, director and head, Amazon Fashion, which has styles spread across products such as rings, earrings, bracelets, pendants, chains and more, featuring unique selections from 100-plus top brands.
The demand for gender-fluid jewellery is steadily on the rise in India, believes Shyamala Ramanan, business head, Mia by Tanishq. “It goes beyond just pieces of jewellery and is today becoming a movement, whose expression is often aided by fashion as a device. Mia, in keeping with today’s consumers, helps them make a statement on inclusivity and dissolving biases. Designing differently defeats the very purpose of this trend,” says Ramanan.