Word and letter jewelry has been around for ages, and I’m not the first designer to do “Fuck” jewelry. I’ve said myself that there’s nothing new under the sun. I even have two types of blog posts on inspiration/revivals/coincidence/occasional blatant theft in fashion: Fashion Repeats Itself and Great Minds Think Alike. As gorgeous clothing designer/blogger Stacy Lomman recently wrote, “Trends and styles constantly recycle. In fashion, designers reinterpret these ideas and trends by putting their ‘spin’ on them and making them look fresh and current.” I’ve always been proud of my swear-ring “spin”: the quality, the size, the weight, the font, the four separate rings, the characters chosen.
Believe it or not, I gave serious thought as to whether I’d use an “at sign” or an asterisk in this set. I ended up liking the look of the “at” better.
I can’t tell what size the rings in Topshop’s £14.00 “Punctuation Ring Pack” are, but from the picture on the website, I admit that I find the execution of this idea a bit more similar to mine than I would like.
In fact, when I first saw the photo, I felt the way I had instructed Tina J to act while while she modeled my swear rings for my Fall 2012 lookbook.
In contrast, Topshop’s OMG ring set doesn’t bother me at all because the font is so different from my OMG rings. Here is my OMG set …
… and here is Topshop’s. I know I’m biased but I like my font better.
Nevertheless, I do want to slap myself for the times — before I had any experience with my own business — when I glibly made statements like, “Designers should knock themselves off before someone else does.” I’ve since discovered that’s much easier to say than to do it. To get the price breaks I need to sell inexpensive product, I need to manufacture a large quantity of each style. That means I need to pay a lot of money up front. For instance, right now I’m hoping to produce some brass rings that I could sell to y’all for $20 each, but to meet the minimum order requirement, I need to cough up $10,000. (To do the whole alphabet, plus some symbols, would cost about $50,000 upfront.) That’s an investment I can’t currently afford, especially when I don’t have a big order from a retailer and would be doomed to a repeat of the distribution problems I wrote about in this Huffington Post piece on the agony and ecstasy of a small business. And even if I did it, my designs would still be twice the price of Topshop’s because that company is getting bigger price breaks for the efficiency of producing thousands of units of one style compared to my order of 150 to 200 units. I’ve always hoped to collaborate with the likes of Topshop or H&M (or some other giant chain that has access to those nifty, thrifty child-labor factories I read so much about) in order to sell jewelry at the rock-bottom prices that consumers crave. But I’ve always figured it was more likely that because I don’t have an ultra-famous name (hello, Kate Moss, nice job knocking off all the vintage dresses in your closet), they’d reject my offer if I made a pitch … then do my designs anyway.
In this case, I won’t swear to it that Topshop has its eye on me. The influence isn’t as screamingly obvious as when Claire’s Accessories practically Xeroxed five designs by Tatty Devine. If Topshop really wants to ride my creative coattails, it can start offering the YEA HOE rings I custom-made for gorgeous rapper Gangsta Boo.
Okay, that might be too undeniable even for a big chain with a lot more money and lawyers than me. But if Topshop’s next letter-ring offering is a set of YOLO rings like mine, I’ll have to get my one lawyer to write a strongly worded letter about all this. Go ahead, Topshop. I dare you.
On that note, I’ll introduce my Jewel of the Month for May a few days early. SMH is Twitter-ese for “shaking my head.”
When I first started seeing this acronym, I loathed it. A large percentage of the people using it on Twitter are so batshit-crazy that they don’t deserve to be shaking their heads (or their damn heads — SMDH — or their motherfucking heads — SMMFH) in judgment at anyone else. Then, as the Washington Post said about YOLO, it became an acronym I loved to hate. I had to do a ring set, which is now available for pre-order. (My YOLO, OMG and F@#! ring sets are all available for immediate delivery. So are my WTF, LOL, LOLZ and NYC ring sets; my individual exclamation point, asterisk, hashtag, emoticon heart and “at sign” rings; and my emoticon heart cufflinks.)
Because of my rings, I feel more warmly towards SMH, though I don’t tweet it. My most-hated-expression-on-Twitter award now goes to *sips tea*, which is what people upgrade to when SMH isn’t condescending enough for them. I’ll give that one as a freebie idea to Topshop — go ahead, do a tea-sipping ring. That and the super-corny LOVE toe-ring set you have don’t interest me at all. I’ve got better concepts in the works. *WendyB sits back, sips tea, waits for Topshop’s next design.*
Look, I understand that my jewelry isn’t in everyone’s budget. That’s fine. Chain stores exist to give people less-expensive options. However, if you can afford my designs, you should know how much I adore all my customers. Does Topshop give a F@#! about you? Whenever you can, spend your money with someone who appreciates you, like me. Plus I’m a fanatic for quality, which means that my work is worth the money. Remember, you’ll never get more than what you pay for!
UPDATED 4/30/12 TO ADD: If Topshop really wanted to do “punctuation” rings, the company could have offered a set like one I wore a few years ago.
For a special occasion, I left off the “F” from the regular swear-ring set and swapped in the asterisk ring that I sell separately. I don’t sell this as a set, so if I’d seen it on Topshop I would have thought, “Great minds think alike,” rather than “probably an imitation.” See how easy it is to cover your ass? Another way to go is using different materials. A while ago, customers alerted me to an Etsy seller who did F@#! rings using computer-keyboard letters. No problem. Didn’t look anything like mine. I put that in the “great minds think alike” category.
UPDATED 4/30/12 AGAIN TO ADD: Here are some other bloggers’ posts about this.
- The Frisky
- Beautifully Invisible
- The DIY Couturier
- That’s so Katie …
- Make Do Style
- One Woman’s Style and Evolution
- The Luxe Chronicles (Part I and Part II)
- The Unsewn
- Independent Fashion Bloggers
- Sama Gazette