Equality: Tolerance, androgyny and sterotypes
Equality is about so many things. I am lucky enough to live in a generally tolerant and equality conscious country. In Sweden it is not unusual to see female engineers, truck drivers or digger drivers, just as men are hairdressers and stylists. Social stereotypes are losing their importance.
I am often asked how our pieces can be unisex, how a big diamond ring can be worn by a man or a woman. At Hargreaves Stockholm we believe that anything can be worn by anyone. Our designs lean towards the simple, clean lines that Scandinavia is known for but we make sure there is enough weight behind the pieces for anyone to feel confident wearing them.
Our Commitment rings are a perfect example. I don't see them as just "engagement" rings as I think that can make us feel we have to have a partner or the desire to get married to wear one. Even in this day and age it is expected that it is just the woman who wears the traditional engagement ring. I think one of our eternity rings looks just as fabulous as a pinky ring on a man or a woman as it does worn as a traditional engagement ring. Yes, one of our solid plain bands is the perfect wedding ring and fits together in its Commitment stack beautifully but it can also be the perfect, thumb ring. In Sweden we are fortunate enough that any man or woman can marry any other consenting man or woman so why shouldn't the jewellery boundaries be removed too? Why shouldn't a man get the option of choosing a symbolic, decadent piece of jewellery that he loves too?
At our brand launch at Stockholm Fashion Week AW17, the very lovely Benjamin Falk (of www.manscape.se @manscapese) tried on our Fealty arm ring. He totally rocked it. I was wearing mine too and I also believe that anyone in the room that night could have rocked it too.
Jonny Depp recently wore a traditional diamond engagement ring and was lambasted for it. It looked amazing. It was totally in keeping with his style and was a beautiful addition. It didn't look out of place at all.
I hope that over time we will be known as a Scandinavian brand that has beautiful design that can be worn by anyone. Our Freyr ring is a big statement piece but I absolutely designed it with both men and women in mind. It is not apologetic or subtle but it is bold and weighty and although not for everyone, I think that it could be for anyone.
Unisex Fashion is becoming more normal. Why is that important? It is important because those blurred lines help equality. They help everyone to become more free to be themselves, whoever that may be. It makes society more fluid and accepting. If David Beckham or Kanye West can wear a skirt just because they feel like it, if Jaden Smith can feel comfortable enough to wear a dress to prom without the fear or becoming labelled in any way, it breaks down barriers, it takes away social stigma. It starts to bring tolerance for all.
At Hargreaves Stockholm we truly believe that you don't have to ever be considering the idea of marriage to wear a diamond ring, you don't have to wear a diamond ring to get married, you don't have to be a woman 25-45 to be looking for a diamond ring. We think about our pieces and how they can be worn and who can wear them. We try to keep our designs as fluid as people truly are. Of course some pieces will always appeal more to women and some to men but we want anyone to feel they can wear our pieces just because they love them, not because they fit in to the social box of who is meant to love them.
It isn't about everyone looking the same though and it isn't about dressing neutrally or androgynously, far from it, it is about people being free to choose pieces they want to wear just because they love them. Whether that means a man wears a beautiful, simple arm ring that can be glimpsed under his shirt cuff or whether he chooses a diamond set band either as a commitment band or just because he loves it. Or whether a woman chooses a heavy, simple diamond set solitaire just because she wants to rather than for any kind of commitment to any thing other than loving the piece itself.
Times are changing, it is no longer a reflection of masculinity, or a lack of, for a man to wear bracelets, necklaces and rings. It is also becoming more normal for women to buy their own fine jewellery. De Beers tried to market the "right hand ring" when women started buying their own diamond rings and wearing them on their right hand but hopefully we have moved past those kinds of labels now. One thing is for sure and that is at Hargreaves Stockholm, whoever you are, you will always have a place with us. We will concentrate on making beautiful pieces and you can concentrate on wearing them however you choose.