The Chic New Look of Men’s Bracelets

An article by Clint Rainey in the March 12–19, 2012 issue of New York magazine states it clearly: Men’s bracelets are back: “Bracelets are back in for dudes, fueling a surge in men’s accessories that has forecasters predicting twenty-year sales highs.”

The article traces the history of men’s bracelets through the ages in a delightful chart. Among the historical highlights (all titles and text are from the article):

c. 9000-3300 B.C.: Proto-bracelets.

“Made from bone links, stones and seashells; gave ancient man a mobile way to ward  off evil and become one with animal spirits.”

1940s: The I.D. bracelet as actual I.D. bracelet.

“Issued to American soldiers during WWII.”

1950s: The I.D. bracelet as a trend.

“Postwar, soldiers were cool; jocks, rebels, and greasers co-opted their look. James Dean and Elvis wore them.”

Late Aughts: Punk throwback.

“Leather and metal; looked subtle next to guys in Ed Hardy, but still signaled allegiance with an unconventional lifestyle exemplified by wearers like Johnny Depp.”

The Present: Creative-class signifiers.

“Centuries of bracelet styles—’beads, strings, braids, ropes, metal, maybe a stone,’ says Christopher Frye of Bloomingdale’s—blended into high fashion for GQ types.”

Men’s bracelets are starting to appear in women’s fashion magazines. The April 2012 issue of Glamour features actor Ian Somerhalder of The Vampire Diaries wearing a beaded bracelet from Fragments along with a T-shirt from Alternative. His ring is not identified. The female model wears earrings from Isabel Marant with a sweater from Tommy Hilfiger.

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that I received a marketing email from Bergdorf Goodman this week promoting men’s bracelets. Eddie Borgo, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Same Sky, Tory Burch, and Giles & Brother by Philip Crangi are the featured designers. My one recommendation to designers: Make certain that you identify and that retailers specify the wearable length(s) of each bracelet. In men’s jewelry, as in women’s, one size does not fit all.

Bracelets have been huge for women these last several seasons. Why should women have all the fun? [Ed. note: JCK couldn’t agree more! Just wait until you see our April issue—featuring a men’s jewelry spotlight.]