Michael Mercanti is making edgy jewellery for men
Jewellery designer Michael Mercanti parties until 3 a.m. most nights (The Social and Amber are favourites), but he calls it research. Speech, the 22-year-old’s man-friendly line of metal-and-leather necklaces, bracelets and rings, is inspired by rock ’n’ roll and crafted for the young glunge (grunge meets glam) set. Launched in fall 2008, it’s already been hyped on international fashion blogs—and, yes, local dudes are wearing it, too. Currently sold at the Queen West boutique Carte Blanche, Mercanti’s pieces are beloved by guys who have “confidence and a harder edge.” We chatted with the up-and-comer about his guitar heroes, magazine collection and good luck charms.
How did you get started in jewellery?
I used to intern at [streetwear boutique] Bully on Queen Street—it’s closed now. I designed their first collection of necklaces and helped with the clothes, too. That’s where I learned how to work with leather and hardware, like rivets and buttons.
Hardware happens to be the name of your second collection. What’s it like?
It’s mostly in silver, with a lot of vintage and rock elements. The line is for guys, but if a girl’s brave enough…
Are you designing for women?
Yes. I’m starting to do more necklaces with leather and studs. They’re inspired by gladiator and Native American style but are modernized with studs and chains. Girls can wear those.
What do you predict will be popular with men?
I just sold a big order to a boutique in Australia. They love the rings I made out of bent nails.
If you could collaborate with any designer or brand, who or what would it be?
Ksubi. They’re a great brand, and I love the way they make clothes. I’d love to work with Marc Jacobs because he seems like such a crazy, interesting, cool guy. But Hedi Slimane [formerly of Dior Homme] would be my number one.
What do you read for stimulation?
I collect old fashion and music magazines. But lately, because I’m broke, I’ve been reading more stuff on-line. But I still buy two magazines every month from Pages: i-D and Wonderland.
Which rock stars have influenced you the most?
David Bowie is amazing, and Joy Division’s music really touches me. I also just saw The Cure at Coachella, and it was incredible—like an electric shock.