Traditionally, jewelry has been bought by men for women to wear. But times are changing. More women are buying their own jewelry. And jewelry is being increasingly worn by men as well as women.
The trend of gender neutral or “unisex” jewelry, especially simple pieces which can be worn by men as well as women is growing, part of a general societal morphing in gender roles. Millennials, Gen Y and younger generations especially are not locked into the rigid prescriptions of gender boundaries adhered to by earlier generations.
What does this mean to you? Men comprise roughly half the population, but traditionally are only a small portion of end users of jewelry sales. If you can open your market and sell jewelry to be worn by men as well as women, you can potentially increase your market reach by up to two fold.
Tips for profiting from the gender neutral jewelry trend:
- Think outside traditional boundaries. Don’t assume rings, pendants or bracelets are only suitable for women. Assume your potential customers are men as well as women, not just for watches, wedding bands and cuff links, but for most jewelry.
- Add inventory that is simple, basic and gender neutral, which would appeal to both men and women, such as simple chains and pendants, bangles, chain or bead bracelets, band and gemstone rings, and earrings (single earrings or pairs, such as hoops or posts). Provide options that would make pieces more widely attractive to both men and women. For example, for a simple gemstone pendant, provide the option of a leather or fabric cord rather than a traditional chain.
- Change your merchandising and marketing. Display items in more gender neutral settings that appeal to both men and women. Simple, natural settings are best, rather than ones that are overly feminine or masculine.
- When you show items to clients, present them “gender neutral,” “suitable for men or women.” Often customers just want to be reassured what they’re attracted to is appropriate. Let them know that boundaries are becoming less rigid, and that many men are buying and wearing jewelry such as bracelets and pendants. You can let customers know that other men have bought and are wearing the pieces you are showing. Ask men, “Would you wear this?” to get a feel for what men are comfortable wearing. When men are letting you know they would be comfortable wearing a piece, you can share that feedback with other customers.
- Men don’t in general read fashion magazines as much as women, but they do look at Instagram. Instagram is filled with pictures of celebrities, including male actors and musicians wearing jewelry. Brad Pitt designs and wears all kinds of jewelry - rings, necklaces and bracelets. Have some of these pictures in your store available to show on your phone, computer or print outs.
- Promote the possibility of sales of matching or coordinating jewelry for men and women. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, who is known for wearing layered bracelets including bead and metal bracelets, presented a bracelet matching a favorite bead bracelet of his as a present to his wife Meghan so they could share a favorite piece. For anniversary gifts, suggest matching or coordinating pieces. For women customers, suggest the possibilities of gifts to men.
- Especially promote gender neutral jewelry to younger clientele who are naturally less restricted in their perceptions about what’s appropriate for men and women.
It’s been suggested all jewelry may eventually be gender neutral. At least one major US wedding band manufacturer no longer describes their different styles as “men’s bands” or “women’s bands.” It’s too much of a mine field with changing gender perceptions and roles. They just offer the different styles in different sizes that would fit both women and men. Open your thinking to new possibilities and take the appropriate steps to capitalize on the increased sales and market reach this growing trend offers.
Mia Katrin is an award-winning jewelry designer featured in over 100 top stores nationally. She is available for lectures and seminars. To add her Collections or book a lecture: www.jeweljewel.com, 877-539-3569, facebook.com/MiaKatrinforJEWELCOUTURELLC, subscribe to her YouTube channel www.youtube.com/channel/UC2B-53XBuB_HD5-bofc5jAA