Contrary to popular hip-hop belief, not everyone has strongly positive feelings toward man bling. For many of us, it conjures up images of highly flammable polyester shirts with one too many buttons undone and that regrettable glimpse of gold chain (amid ample chest rug) peeking out from underneath. Thanks for the eyeful, every dad, uncle, casino pit dealer and shady used car salesman of the '70s.
Yet lately, we've noticed more and more men experimenting with the look, taking their love for accessories far beyond watches, wedding bands and silk-knot cufflinks. Apparently, man jewellery is now a thing and in my limited contact with the male species, I can confirm that this is indeed true.
Once the sole preserve of rock stars and royalty, who'd decorate themselves with heavy chains and gigantic rings, the look has recently gained mainstream appeal. Annual sales of men's accessories have grown 9 per cent to reach $13.6 billion, capping a two-year period that saw the category grow 13 per cent overall, reports the Business Of Fashion. The most crucial category driving this traction is of course man jewellery, that much-maligned marker of every metrosexual millennial to ever pull a #selfie on your Facebook feed.
The trend started innocently enough, with a few token pieces you'd hardly even notice. Those highlighter yellow Livestrong wristbands soon made way for plaited leather bracelets, stacked on forearms and evoking memories of distant travels to Koh Tao and Byron Bay. In 2014, the look's more sophisticated. They've swapped hippie armbands and shark-tooth pendants for sleek bracelets and necklaces rendered in oxidised metals with a matte finish.
And the trend hasn't gone unnoticed. Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, Versace and Givenchy are just some of the bigwig brands that have made forays into the male jewellery market in recent years. Walk over to the accessories wall in Zara or peruse the items on luxury men's e-tailer Mr Porter and you'll quickly familiarise yourself with the bling-without-the-bling style. After years of missing out, men have finally won their invite to the forearm festivities.
While man jewellery has long been loaded with subliminal messages concerning sexuality, class and masculinity, society is finally becoming more accepting - even embracing - of the look. The modern-day bloke draws inspiration from contemporary style icons like David Beckham and Prince Harry, who is known for sporting stacks of beaded and leather bracelets on his wrist without anyone questioning his manhood.
So, how do we feel about man jewellery? Another welcome avenue for sartorial self-expression, or unfortunate trend in the same category as 'bro-tox' and 'masculine sarongs'? A free-to-be-you-and-me approach to fashion says the former.
We definitely believe men and jewellery can be best friends, so long as you follow a few key pointers. You're not in an MTV video, so resist oversized timepieces and anything that ever featured on , and no one's advocating that you wear 80 per cent of your net worth on your fingers. Just like the ladies, what works on one guy can be a disaster on another.