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China puts a ring on him




Key points to remember:

  • Young Chinese male consumers are increasingly interested in sophisticated and diverse jewelry offerings, but major jewelry houses have been slow to respond to their demand.

  • The men’s jewelry market is still in the early stages of its development, which leaves a great opportunity for brands to gain market share.

  • Brands must de-stigmatize the genre of male jewelry, go beyond “rapper chains” and diversify men’s adornment as well as that of women.

When one thinks of today’s luxury men’s accessory market, a prefixed set of traditional jewelry that embodies “masculine” qualities is implied. These items include gothic rings, rapper-inspired Cuban link chains, or male wardrobe additions such as tie clips, cufflinks, or belt buckles. But for the growing cohort of trendy young metrosexuals in China, these style conventions are barely enough.

So how can luxury brands take advantage of this booming men’s jewelry market? The first step is to recognize the industry’s long-held male stereotypes about accessories. Then they can destigmatize them.

Take the diamond, for example. The gem’s cultural association with forever love resonates much less with Chinese millennials and Gen Z than with their Western counterparts. Growing up in a culture relatively new to the Western concept of equating diamonds and marriage proposals, young Chinese men are more likely to view diamonds as a symbol of fashion than as a piece of engagement.

According to a report According to investment firm Guosen Securities, consumers in the 1980s contributed 80% of China’s diamond sales in 2017, while their American counterparts contributed only 50%. Buying a diamond is almost exclusively linked to romantic gifts in the United States, but the cultural detachment from China allows more young men to buy diamonds for fashion statements.

On social media, a growing number of young Chinese men are sharing their and gender-specific approaches to jewelry. The #MenJewelry () hashtag now has over 30,000 posts on the Xiaohongshu lifestyle platform, where menswear KOLs share their tips and tricks for navigating the limited offerings of luxury menswear.

Limited by choice, many Chinese men are now buying luxury jewelry for women with gender-neutral designs. Chanel’s classic Coco Crush rings, Piaget’s Possession rings and Bulgari’s B.Zero diamond rings have become their must-have pieces. Fred’s Force 10 bracelet, Tiffany & Co.’s True bracelets, Cartier’s Ecrou De Cartier bracelets, and Cartier’s Panthere pendant are also popular.

“Timeless design [in mens and women’s collections] from Bulgari, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels are the safe choices for luxury lovers, says Shark, a KOL who manages the Bilibili men’s account @. I would say most men don’t have a clear idea of ​​what they want before they go shopping. They are more likely to be inspired on the spot and follow the pulse. “

In addition to being stylistically safe, classic pieces from top brands are also endlessly versatile. Compared to stereotypical ‘male jewelry’, made of raw metals or hip-hop-style gold details, great classics have become ideal for layering, mixing and matching for an urban and professional look. But, says Shark, the love of classic investment jewelry doesn’t apply to the masses. “For the majority of men who are just starting to take an interest in fashion, stereotypical male accessories fall into two categories: Chrome Hearts rings or ethnic-looking accessories with feathers or colored stones,” explains- he does.

While the desire to wear unisex jewelry signals a search for masculine style upgrades, the fluid gender trend could also come from male Chinese pop stars increasingly wearing dressy jewelry on screen, helping the public to accept adventurous male styles. On the popular talent show “Street Dance of China”, pop star mentors Zhang Yixing and Jackson Wang appear in each episode with a hybrid look that features “male” streetwear and “female” accessories like a pearl necklace. . Meanwhile, Chinese fashion magazines increasingly feature stylish male icons wearing delicate and fine jewelry. Last year, the December issue of Harper’s Bazaar China star of the pop star Jackson Wang in a full leather look and the jewelry Juste un Clou de Cartier, a collection known for its chic minimalist shapes.

Left: Jackson Wang in Cartier jewelry; right: Zhang Jiaxings jewelry + streetwear hybrid look in the Street Dance of China talent show. Photo: Harper’s Bazaar China, @StreetDanceofChina Weibo

China’s growing interest in men’s jewelry has not gone unnoticed by the biggest names in the jewelry world. In recent years, luxury houses have tested the waters by featuring Chinese male popstars in their jewelry campaigns to promote unisex use of their most iconic designs. Bvlgari has Kris Wu as a brand ambassador, and he regularly shows up with the Roman House’s diamond watches, earrings and brooches at VIP events. Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton chose Fan Chengcheng to star in its LV Volt jewelry campaign. For her dedicated jewelry line, Tiffany Men for the Modern Man, Tiffany called on superstar Jackson Yee as a spokesperson to nurture China’s young male consumers.

Louis Vuitton played Fan Chengcheng in its LV Volt jewelry campaigns, 2020. Photo: @ Louis Vuitton Weibo

“In China, the male customer is a lot more engaged, a lot more enthusiastic about men’s fashion and a lot more comfortable with wearing jewelry, cosmetics and fashion in all of these different categories,” said the artistic director in Tiffany boss Reed Krakoff at a interview Last year.

However, despite the growing media representation of men with jewelry in the luxury world, the category’s limited innovation and customization has not caught up with the rapidly evolving demands of Gen Z China. Today, most Chinese men still buy jewelry from the women’s catalogs of major brands, where few products or services meet their needs.

Still, emerging national brands can provide inspiration from the luxury world to create younger, more edgy jewelry offerings for men. Founded in 2019, Chamber of Commerce quickly grew up on Taobao, thanks to his sexless jewelry and futuristic allure. The self-proclaimed “post-genre accessory brand” targets Gen Z members who embrace a tech aesthetic inspired by Cyberpunk. WBJ, a Taiwan-based brand specializing in bespoke men’s jewelry, has also gained loyalty among mainland male fashionistas with its playful, diamond-embellished accessories. Unlike stereotypical male jewelry, these emerging brands create inventive jewelry that blends well with the everyday styles of the modern man.

The emerging brand WBJ specializes in bold and bespoke jewelry for men. Photo: WBJs Tmall store

With Gen-Z China’s growing desire for diverse men’s accessories, brands should help destigmatize the genre of men’s jewelry and tailor their positioning to appeal to male buyers. Hungry for novelty and quick to learn, Gen Z men now want the same range and variations of jewelry as women. Now it is a question of who will serve them.

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