I like to start my perusal of a magazine by reading the Letter from the Editor. I find the letter telling about the philosophy and focus of the magazine and, in the case of fashion magazines, what has caught the attention of the ultimate arbiter of taste for that publication—the editors’ editor, if you will.
The June 2008 issue of Harper’s Bazaar contains an Editor’s Letter by Editor-in-Chief Glenda Bailey that I believe everyone in the jewelry industry will find highly worth reading. By way of preface, let me say that Ms. Bailey’s observations are part of the reason I reach for Bazaar month after month without delay upon its arrival in my mailbox (this honor of immediate attention shared only by the irresistible crossword puzzles of Maura B. Jacobson in New York magazine).
Why read Ms. Bailey’s letter? Because it lays out in crystal clarity, from the fashion industry’s point of view, the concept of signature jewelry.
Ms. Bailey writes that this season is “all about jewelry, especially necklaces” and minces no words in her opinion: “Now is the time to purchase the classic pieces that will form the basis of your personal style.”
By “classics,” she clarifies, she doesn’t necessarily mean a tennis bracelet or strand of pearls, “although if those are what you crave, this is the perfect opportunity to get them.” Rather, she means “the pieces that can become your signatures. She references Coco Chanel’s gold chains and Diana Vreeland’s cuff bracelets and adds: “There is never a bad moment to buy something you will love forever.”
The necklace pictured is by Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquiere. Ms. Bailey includes a story of how an enormous brooch is reinvented as a necklace when worn on a ribbon around the neck, and discusses mixing high-end and less expensive things to create her own personal look. “With jewelry, the fun is in how you put it together.” She concludes: “After all, true style is never about the pieces you buy each season; it’s about the pieces you wear every season.”
This is the crux of signature style, of course – wearing that special something that suits one perfectly. Jewelers have a couple of opportunities here. First, of course, is providing the signature pieces themselves, pieces that appeal to your customers on an emotional level, whether they gravitate toward tennis bracelets or oversized necklaces. Second, and as I wrote last May, your customers’ signature pieces are centerpieces around which to help them build their jewelry wardrobes. Do not overlook the opportunity to provide the pieces that play the supporting roles. That fabulous necklace almost certainly is going to need some earrings and other pieces that work with it, in order to create multiple outfits of jewelry. The supporting pieces allow the signature piece to shine anew every season so that it can be enjoyed and loved forever.