The History of Fashion Jewelry

Jewelry has made significant impressions on society dating back to ancient times. In ancient civilizations, gold was considered a preferred luxury metal because did not tarnish and was shapeable. Jewelry personified natural forms such as shells, plant life, and animals. Significant advances in style became increasingly evident with the setting of pearls and gemstones in shiny metals. Jewelry was worn in the form of necklaces, bracelets, pendants, earrings, and wreathes.

During Medieval Times, jewelry was widely adorned and worn by various levels of society. Brooches, pendants and pins with religious motifs were very popular during this period. Jewelry became so popular, sumptuary laws were created to limit lower levels of society from wearing gold and silver jewelry.

15th – 17th Centuries

Fake pearls and enamels became increasingly acceptable and were mass produced. These items were typically worn during the daytime as substitute for finer jewelry. Fine jewelry was kept for evening wear. Diamonds increased in popularity as well. The invention of the prong setting enhanced the brilliance of the diamond; therefore, expanding its allure with the upper-classes.

Victorian Era

The Victorian Era was an important advancement for Jewelry as an art form. Artistic expression became more apparent in fashion and jewelry. The early Victorian years were referred to as the Romantic period. The Romantic period emphasized dreams and emotions as inspiration for artistic expression. Morning brooches were a staple of this period. The hair of a loved one was intertwined within a pin, pendant, or brooch to make a sentimental piece of jewelry.

Mass production of jewelry lowered its luster with Victorians as importation of jewelry began from North America to Europe; thus, the beginning of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Arts and Crafts guilds were smaller jeweler associations, but provided higher quality jewelry and intricate artwork in design.

Early 20th Century

The Art Nouveau Movement was derived from the Arts and Crafts movement. It started in Paris and spread to North America. Asymmetrical and flowing lines inspired natural designs. Among these natural designs, floral and female forms were very popular. This period has a continuous influence on Jewelry design.

1930 to 1940

The reinstatement of mass produced jewelry followed the Art Nouveau Movement. This type of jewelry was meant to be worn selectively as an accessory to specific outfits. Two designers, Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli masterminded accessorizing fine and costume jewelry with day to day fashion. Vermeil jewelry was popular, but in short supply from war efforts. Rhinestones popularity increased.

1950’s

Hollywood’s flamboyance and glamour influence spread across continents. Engrained with it was costume jewelry on the silver screen. The styles and look of the stars quickly spread and was widely accepted across the world. The emergence of the middle class in America increased the demand for costume jewelry. This encouraged technical advances in mass production methods.

Today’s era has brought a creative culmination of styles to fashion jewelry, both timeless and trendy. Many celebrities have caught the wave by designing their own lines. Tori Spelling and Suzanne Somers are among a few. The fashion Jewelry industry is now a multi-billion dollar industry.

Jewelry is much more eclectic in today’s era. Pieces are made by many different stones, textures, colors, various lengths, or metals. Jewelry is sold in large department stores, restaurants, gift shops, jewelry parties, and boutiques.

Fashion jewelry adds a splash of pizazz to attire no matter the occasion. Most importantly, fashion jewelry is fun! It is fun to shop for jewelry, sell jewelry, collect jewelry, and of course, show it off.

Mecca Clothing – Urban Fashion Pioneer

In 1994, Mecca USA burst onto the fashion market while rap music was also making its own stand. The timing proved to be fortuitous for both. Mecca Clothing quickly became a wardrobe staple of hip hop rappers and the urban youth who were looking to these artists as inspiration. Instead, of trying to create clothing to suit office, evening or other areas; the brand has firmly established itself as the line representing sporty, casual and street wear.

The driving force behind Mecca USA was Mike Alesko and Tony Shellman. Mike Alesko is well known in the fashion industry, creating not only the Mecca Clothing brand but International News, the Seattle based company that would later spawn Mecca. Tony Shellman is a hip-hop fashion innovator who also cofounded Encye and the Parish Nation clothing line. Their clothing line took design inspiration from the birthplace of hip-hop, New York City.

With New York City serving as their fashion muse, the line took on a rugged and raw edge, giving wearers an instant statement making look. The line quickly evolved into the “uniform” for inner city youth. By the end of the decade, Mecca USA’s appeal was not limited to a city audience. Instead, increasing numbers of suburban youth were looking to Mecca USA as a way to express themselves and identify with the rap musicians they wanted to emulate.

The brand made its way into malls and major department stores, getting the attention of those who had previously only been buying mainstream labels such as Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren. Over the years, numerous celebrities have worn the line including. The Mecca clothing expanded its base, making its way into Europe, Asia and all around the globe.

Mecca USA has always focused on denim wear. Originally only offering designs for men, such as baggy unique-pocket designer denim jeans, trendy foil printed tees and high-quality hoodies. Reversible jackets, airbrushed tees and polo shirts were also popular. Today Mecca USA has further extended its audience with clothing suited to girls and women. The line for girls is called Mecca Girls and features sequins, rhinestones, skirts, tops, pants, and outerwear among other items. The most successful extension of the company however, has been Mecca Femme.

Introduced in 2002, Mecca Femme is about cutting edge innovation. A mixture of urban street wear with high-fashion looks and European inspiration, creating a unique look that female fans of urban wear have flocked too. Mecca jeans is popular with men and Mecca Femme has similarly staked a claim in this arena with women.

The Mecca Femme brand jeans feature a blend of cotton and spandex to create a figure hugging and pleasing silhouette. The jeans have quickly become a favorite among urban women because it is fitted to curvier body types. Female celebrities have also quickly flocked to buy them.

Unlike other hip hop clothing lines that rely on high prices in order to show their “quality” Mecca USA has always been affordably priced. Making their clothing accessible to everyone and keeping consumers loyal and coming back for more. Though the prices are low, quality has always been a major part of the brands identity. High-quality materials are used to showcase screen printing, prints, special stitch treatments, foiled logos and other signature looks.

Mecca Clothing has paved the way for other hip hop related brands such as Sean John, Rocawear, Akademiks, Phat Farm and Ecko. Since the beginning, Mecca has been firmly rooted in the hip hop industry and there is still a cult following for Mecca USA among those seeking attention getting street wear.

Fashion and Style

Early Western travelers, traveling whether to Persia, Turkey, India, or China, would frequently remark on the absence of change in fashion in the respective places. The Japanese Shogun’s secretary bragged (not completely accurately) to a Spanish visitor in 1609 that Japanese clothing had not changed in over a thousand years.However, there is considerable evidence in Ming China of rapidly changing fashions in Chinese clothing. Changes in costume often took place at times of economic or social change, as occurred in ancient Rome and the medieval Caliphate, followed by a long period without major changes. In 8th-century Moorish Spain, the musician Ziryab introduced to Córdoba sophisticated clothing-styles based on seasonal and daily fashions from his native Baghdad, modified by his own inspiration.

Similar changes in fashion occurred in the 11th century in the Middle East following the arrival of the Turks, who introduced clothing styles from Central Asia and the Far East. The beginning in Europe of continual and increasingly rapid change in clothing styles can be fairly reliably dated. Historians, including James Laver and Fernand Braudel, date the start of Western fashion in clothing to the middle of the 14th century, though it should be noted that they tend to rely heavily on contemporary imagery and illuminated manuscripts were not common before the fourteenth century. The most dramatic early change in fashion was a sudden drastic shortening and tightening of the male over-garment from calf-length to barely covering the buttocks, sometimes accompanied with stuffing in the chest to make it look bigger. This created the distinctive Western outline of a tailored top worn over leggings or trousers. The pace of change accelerated considerably in the following century, and women and men’s fashion, especially in the dressing and adorning of the hair, became equally complex.

Art historians are therefore able to use fashion with confidence and precision to date images, often to within five years, particularly in the case of images from the 15th century. Initially, changes in fashion led to a fragmentation across the upper classes of Europe of what had previously been a very similar style of dressing and the subsequent development of distinctive national styles. These national styles remained very different until a counter-movement in the 17th to 18th centuries imposed similar styles once again, mostly originating from Ancien Régime France. Though the rich usually led fashion, the increasing affluence of early modern Europe led to the bourgeoisie and even peasants following trends at a distance, but still uncomfortably close for the elites – a factor that Fernand Braudel regards as one of the main motors of changing fashion.