(Nytimes)-With silver tankards and billiard balls in blue, the jewelry house puts emphasis on a new collection.
The next time you pass a Tiffany & Co. store, peer through the window. You may be surprised to see that about half of the shoppers are men.
For decades, the company has sold a men’s collection, although most of the items have reflected the more old-fashioned rigors of male accessorizing: Think tie bars and money clips, perhaps engraved with elaborate monograms. Most of the male shoppers, though, would be buying pieces for women; the renowned jewelry house, founded in 1837 in New York, remains a top-of-mind destination for engagement rings and anniversary gifts.
Yet Tiffany is in a period of uncertainty. Its stock value has dropped by more than 30 percent in the last 12 months, and growth has slowed in the important Asia-Pacific region, particularly as a result of the unrest in Hong Kong. On the positive side, its profits have exceeded analyst’s estimates, despite a recently announced decrease of $9 million in second-quarter sales compared with 2018.
So the company created another reason for those male shoppers to spend: Tiffany Men’s.
Arriving Oct. 1 in stores worldwide and online, the new line is intended to “write the next chapter in the incredible history of this brand,” said Reed Krakoff, Tiffany’s chief artistic officer — and to help improve those financial numbers.
The introductory group of nearly 100 items is divided into the Tiffany 1837 Makers collection, primarily inspired by the jeweler’s holloware heritage and tradition of making sports trophies, and the Diamond Point collection, somewhat more elevated pieces with a strong graphic pattern. The items include billiard balls in Tiffany blue, sunglasses, ice cube tongs, briefcases with atypical bold prints and iterations of the house’s popular double-tipped “T” bracelets. There are plans to add more pieces, and collections, over time.
“We have a newfound focus on expanding the men’s collection to give the customer more of what they’re coming in for,” Mr. Krakoff said. “Our men’s clientele is interested in wardrobe pieces, in travel, with this sense of a curated life.”
Nickelson Wooster, the retail and brand consultant who came to fame as an Instagram idol, echoed Mr. Krakoff’s assessment. “More than ever,” Mr. Wooster said, “men are now open to wearing jewelry and accessories. If they’re clever, brands and retailers are building their offerings to meet this need.”
As for Tiffany itself, Mr. Wooster, who has worked with the likes of Bergdorf Goodman and Thom Browne, noted that the company “has a tradition of classic craftsmanship, but I do not see them as old-fashioned.” He added: “I think that they can even be daring. I always think about what they’ve done with Elsa Peretti.” (Since 1974 Ms. Peretti, an Italian designer and former model, has had a jewelry line at Tiffany that includes bold cuffs, abstract heart pendants and kidney-shaped Bean earrings.)
Tiffany Men’s may not be daring, but it does show Tiffany & Co.’s willingness to step a bit beyond its sterling silver Revere bowl comfort zone.
Among the new collection’s casual choices are attractive leather cord bracelets, bottle openers and even a sterling silver beer mug. “We are trying to separate luxury from formality,” Mr. Krakoff said. “We have this idea that formality does not equal luxury, and vice versa.”
That aesthetic has shaped other areas of the company, too. Since Mr. Krakoff joined Tiffany in 2017, its first designer to be part of the company’s executive suite, he has focused on modernizing its reputation by increasing its assortment of women’s accessories and household goods, introducing a pet line and creating an Everyday Objects collection (some of which is integrated into Tiffany Men’s). Even the flagship Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan got a makeover, which included the introduction of its first cafe.
Additionally, Mr. Krakoff has instituted a more youthful promotional tone (perhaps overdue, when your biggest pop-culture association is a 1961 movie), by casting the likes of Zoë Kravitz, who showed off her tattooed hand in one image for the 2018 holiday campaign, and Elle Fanning.
Whether it all will work or not — and whether Tiffany Men’s will catch on — remains to be seen. The label has faltered in some key sales areas of late (for example, engagement jewelry was down by 4 percent and designer jewelry down 12 percent for the first half of the year, compared with 2018). Yet if it can persuade its male fans to spend more on themselves — and, globally, men’s fine jewelry alone accounts for approximately $5.8 billion in sales annually — the brand may have a winner.
For now, Tiffany is banking on its cyan glow. “We want to continue to give people something that you fall in love with,” Mr. Krakoff said. “Tiffany has that magic to it, that blue box, the excitement you get when you see that blue box. We will continue to fulfill that promise, in many different ways.”