Fashion Gets in Line

A sure sign of fashion’s farewell to the romantic and sometimes ornate motifs of the past several seasons is the linear look, which is coming on strong for spring and summer, especially line-style bracelets and vertical-bar-like motifs. Bars in gold, platinum, or silver-in finished metal or gem-intensive, on the end of a lariat chain or hanging as a pendant-are the trend of the moment. At the same time, the look of the line (thanks, undoubtedly, to De Beers’ touting of the line bracelet) is hot not only in bracelets but also in earrings, necklaces, and rings.

The appeal of this motif isn’t difficult to trace. Like all fashion trends, it ties neatly into the socioeconomic state of the world at the moment. With consumers and businesspeople alike feeling the pinch after years of boom, it’s time for a paring down. But note: Trimming doesn’t mean eliminating. The idea isn’t minimalism, but rather an attempt to show the sleeker, tougher-but still feminine-side of jewelry. Sound impossible? Not according to fashion designers who mixed masculine military lines with sexy miniskirts.

Like that blending of themes, jewelry featuring linear motifs is simple and sleek, yet its austerity is softened intrinsically by precious metals and gems-especially color. For the first time in a few years, that ’90s credo-“less is more”-is creeping back into fashion lingo, this time meaning less fussiness and more substance.

The Consumer Trends Institute, for example, notes simplification as one of the most important socioeconomic trends for retailers to understand in the coming decade. In fashion, that translates into the strong surge of black-and-white styles on designer’s runways. Ralph Lauren was one of several whose 2001 looks included a bold yet simple contrast. (Lauren’s interpretation was a white shift dress with linear black trim). In jewelry, the look equals pieces like the diamond line bracelets being trumpeted by De Beers.

For jewelers wary of passing fads, the good news is that De Beers is planning to continue its blitz in consumer media to promote the line bracelet throughout 2001. While De Beers is focusing on upscale, higher-priced bracelets, the campaign focuses on the product rather than on the general diamond category. Ad copy, such as “the mystery of a curve, the clarity of a line,” will emphasize the image of a line. For that reason, trend watchers can expect that the linear motif itself, rather than just the stones, will gain momentum among consumers throughout the year.