Sarah & Sebastian co-founder Robert Sebastian Grynkofki admits the Sydney brand’s first collection for men, Traction, was one of the most difficult he’s developed. “I was essentially designing for myself when creating [it], so it was quite an introspective process,” Grynkofki, who runs the brand with Sarah Munro, tells Broadsheet. “I found myself doing a lot of soul searching – drawing from personal experiences, [my] interests and my background in industrial design.”
Grynkofki had nothing to worry about. The collection, which ranges from chains embedded with pearls to textured signet rings and bracelets, balances Sarah & Sebastian’s signature delicacy with a slightly more rugged aesthetic. But Grynkofki admits he wouldn’t be surprised if, despite the collection being geared towards men, plenty of women gravitate towards the pieces. Traction could arguably be shared – like a woman borrowing their boyfriend’s shirt or jacket for the day.
Traction, which launched in Sarah & Sebastian’s boutiques this month, is a story told in four chapters. Chase is inspired by an early work from Grynkofki’s career as a jewellery designer, drawing on architectural elements and playing on an absence of embellishment. Piston blends engineering and intricacy, with pearls inlaid into machined silhouettes, subverting the classic women’s pearl necklace for men. There’s also Lock, which speaks to a sense of adventure with carabiner-inspired design details featured in solid metal bracelets, as well as bracelets made of rope. And the eponymous Traction draws its inspiration from the complex patterns in tyre treads, reflecting Grynkofki’s passion for automotive engineering.
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“Each distinctive narrative within Traction reflects something personal to me,” says Grynkofki. This puts the pressure he felt during the design process into a new light – often the things that mean the most to us can be the hardest to manifest. “Chase, for example, is an evolution of one of the first rings I created. The finely honed voids [the rings don’t complete a full circle] speak to precision and a minimalist aesthetic that I conform to in my style. It’s also a ring I wear every day and is regularly commented on, so I’m excited that it’s found a place in the Traction collection.”
The pieces reflect a growing shift in the way men wear accessories. Masculine-skewed jewellery, from rings to bracelets, have often been deliberately oversized or weighty, almost as if to combat the stereotype of jewellery being worn mainly by women. Traction taps into a shift Grynkofski has been watching emerge, as men begin to explore and get a little more playful with the way they decorate themselves.
“There’s a real appetite for bold, conceptual designs, and I think we’re at the precipice of the category becoming less of a trend and a more natural extension of men’s style,” he says.
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