This Jewelry Company is Redefining Androgynous Bling
Dapper Designs is blurring the lines between what’s his and what’s hers. In Gabrielle Nicole’s newest collection, she explores classic jewelry trends and puts her own spin on it, creating a line that spans across gender and includes everybody – however they identify. Inspired by unisex fashion, gender neutrality, and the queen of androgynous fashion, Ruby Rose, Dapper Designs speaks to the sect of the fashion community that rarely feels heard. To learn more about this unisex fashion trailblazer, peep the full interview below.
How are you Gabby?
I’m good, how are you doing?
I’m great! We’re all really excited about Dapper Designs. What inspired you to create a gender fluid jewelry line?
To start, I was really inspired by past unisex fashion trends like the boyfriend jean and the boyfriend watch. Women are constantly stealing their boyfriends’ style and menswear trends, and that got me thinking why not create a line that blurs the lines between what’s his and what’s hers? I’ve created a collection that’s essentially created and intended for all, and from there the interchangeable concept was born. Each of the rings can hook onto any of the necklaces for a completely different look, and there are also two pieces in one, which is really awesome. Some people use the necklaces and bracelets as a way to wear their wedding band, family heirlooms, charms. I actually use the Haden necklace to wear my mom’s old class ring that I’m too nervous to resize.
Yeah, it’s been really fun.
What’s the reception been like to the line?
We’ve been working with a ton of really diverse influencers including local ones from New York City. We’ve worked with Alison of She Does Him, LA-based actor and style influencer Parker York Smith, the band Over Atlantic based in London – the overall reaction has been of open arms. People are wanting to learn more and more about what we’re designing and the message we’re trying to convey. People have gravitated towards the collection with the reaction of gender norms and social boundaries is a problem that people are noticing in today’s society. As a reaction to that topic, here’s a brand that’s actually doing something about it. For us, and everyone, gender neutral is built into DNA, it’s not about getting attention. You’ll see a lot of influential people and celebrities wearing pieces that are unisex, creating pieces that aren’t just for a certain gender, and it’s a really beautiful thing to see.
Do you find that a lot of people who love the line and are avid customers are gender neutral, gender non-conforming, or gender fluid, or is it an even mix of people who are binary, but still support the line and its message?
It’s definitely a mix – those who are gender neutral are attracted to the line and its concept because they feel supported and they feel heard, but it’s also for people who just support the cause. They like what we’re doing and want to be a part of it, or they’re attracted to the design. They’re like that’s cool, I’d actually wear that, and I can give it to my boyfriend or my girlfriend, whatever the case may be. Dapper Designs is something that’s intended for everybody.
Going back to the design aspect, when you’re designing new pieces, do you think about trends in women’s fashion and men’s fashion and combine aspects of each, or do you pay those social concepts no mind at all?
I do take into account the current trends, what’s new in fashion from an aesthetic point of view, but I’m mostly focused on creating new and unique pieces that blur those gender lines that we talk so much about and pieces that make people stop and ask about it. Each piece holds a story that only the wearer knows – they’re wearing it for a reason. With Dapper, you can be true to yourself and wear your heart on your sleeve. That’s where my inspiration comes from.
Do you have a muse for the line? What kind of person do you envision wearing these pieces and loving them?
I get this question a lot, and most people have seen or at least heard of the show Orange is the New Black. My muse is Ruby Rose. I adore her, I kinda have a girl crush on her [laughs] In her interview with Elle, she stated that she wants people to feel empowered to define their own identities and live their lives in a way that feels authentic, and that’s what my brand is all about. Dapper Designs is about encompassing authenticity to be who you are, as you are feeling in that moment. As a designer, some days I’m feeling more masculine, so I’ll wear pieces that emit a more masculine energy like the Eli or the Harper, and maybe the next day I’ll be feeling more feminine so I’ll wear the Ainsley or the Aubrey. I’m always asking myself, does this fit into why Dapper Designs was born, and also, why does what I wear need to be defined by or fit into gender? It doesn’t, and it’s time that we break free of those roles.
Gender fluidity and androgynous fashion is a huge movement right now. Do you think this is an awakening within the fashion community that fashion doesn’t have to be gendered to get people to buy it?
Absolutely, it’s huge right now. Big publications like Vogue, Refinery29, HollywoodReporter, TeenVogue – they’ve all covered the topic and continued to the conversation going. Something that’s largely overlooked is that if non-gendered clothing and accessories continue on this trend, it will change how people shop. As it continues, retailers will have to adapt to how their consumers are shopping. Abercrombie & Fitch recently introduced gender neutral fitting rooms, so gender fluidity and unisex fashion are definitely going forward full speed, and it’s definitely a step in the right direction. It’s really exciting that it’s something that’s here to stay. I’m really passionate about it and how my brand can be a part of it.
What’s in the pipeline for the rest of the year?
There’s actually something that I’m really excited about! I’m working on a collection that’s inspired by the legend of the red string of fate. It’s an old East Asian myth where your pinky finger is tied to an invisible red string that will be passed on to another person with whom their lives will change. I thought it was a really cool concept that I’m really excited to start working on. It will be launching this holiday season, so keep an eye out for that. It’ll be a collection filled with really unique treasures.
Images via Dapper Designs
Stay tuned to Milk for more androgynous fashion inspo.