July 24, 2010
"Simplistic designs that showcase a texture instead of a stone have a wide appeal with men, says Karri Ann Frerichs for San Francisco—based designer John Brana. If a stone is used, it’s usually solo and set flush with the surface. In addition, she reports that men look for pieces with significant weight that offer durability, shying away from lightweight pieces that they don’t perceive will withstand the daily wear and tear of an active lifestyle. “For these design preferences, John has developed sterling silver collections that focus on textures and minimalistic designs,” Frerichs explains.
Brana often opts for fabrication over casting to make his hammered and chased pieces. “I can make a simple band in about 20 minutes versus the time involved in making the master, creating rubber molds, injecting the wax, spruing, investing, casting, despruing, and finishing,” says Brana. “Casting would make sense if the designs were heavily patterned, or if I was doing production runs of 50+ rings at a time and could move them out of inventory within 60 days. With fabrication, you can do small runs and not carry any inventory. It also allows you the flexibility to size on the fly, and the ability to customize band width, thickness, and stone choice with ease.”
For design inspiration, Brana looks to natural and organic themes to create his signature textures of Redwood, Reptile, Wave, Tonga, and Sierra. The designer has developed a loyal customer base by turning clients into collectors, making it easy (especially with many pieces retailing under $300) to amass a complete collection based on the texture the client likes best. The brand’s bestseller is Redwood.
“Typically, our male customers start with a thumb ring, look next to the matching bracelet or cufflinks, and round out their collection with a pendant on a rawhide or link chain,” says Frerichs, noting the company’s key demographic is men ages 20 to 35 who live in cosmopolitan areas, appreciate fashion, purchase designer labels, and look for quality over price point."
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