The Elusive Handmade Cufflinks

by : Patrick McMurray

As a buyer for an online shop selling men's luxury fashion accessories, including, silk ties, cufflinks, wallets and belts, I have to adhere to customer demands and source products accordingly. And so begins an arduous task.

The men's fashion accessories market in England is undersupplied and the demand for English made products is strong and getting stronger, so the balance is in my favour, however meeting this demand is not easy.

To find cufflinks that conform to core principles of good design .i.e. 'form and function' amongst all the imitations. The task gets harder and even more so when searching for cufflinks that are handmade in England with a maximum retail price of ?65.00. However through persistence, my searching tactics were well rewarded.

The first designer I discovered that conformed to my selection criteria was Ian Flaherty who works out of his London studio. His cufflinks stems are made from pure English Pewter, double coated with rhodium and inset with Swarovski Crystal cuffllinks or hand enamelled. Ian's designs are smartly presented and true to good form and function and priced accordingly.

A pair of Ian's Swarovski Cube cufflinks were hand picked by Victoria Gray editor of The Sunday Express Magazine and recently featured under the title 'Twelve of the best gifts for father's day' They were an instant hit.

There are few ways men can express themselves without their character being called into question. Wearing cufflinks and neckties are two ways to do this. If you're going to express yourself then do it with style. So if you're looking for something out of the ordinary without looking like a garish novelty then Ian Flaherty's cufflinks are worth more than a glance. And when you consider the materials used in their construction and the fact that they are handmade in England the price is no longer an issue.

And if price is an issue then there is no need for concern. Thanks to Simon Carter another premier British designer who recognised the demand for affordable cufflinks that differ from the rest, but without carrying the price tag. Simons' cufflinks for men are not handmade in England; nickel is used instead of pewter or silver. Less expensive materials are used to adorn the cufflinks, like cat's-eye glass in varying shades. Another favourite material of Simons' is Mother of Pearl and Paua Shell, which comes from the far away shores of New Zealand. The way the materials are combined and arranged ensures individuality and from a starting price of ?29.00 you're assured value for money. One of his latest designs is very clever, called the Aspirin; you can store your headache pills, which are just a twist of the lid away.

A closing anecdote: Swank Inc a popular designer and manufacturer of men's cufflinks were incorporated on April 17, 1936. When Cufflinks peaked in the 1960's they were making 12 million a year. Even though these were aimed at the lowest end of the market, retailing for an average of $2.50 a pair, that still adds up to a lot of men wearing cufflinks. These days the figure is closer to 200,000, but cufflinks are making a strong comeback with gross sales having increased consistently over the last ten years, while the French cuff continues to be the most prestigious type of shirt.

And don't forget, best of all Vivienne Westwood has been producing men's cufflinks for many years.