Trends change over time, particularly when jewellery and fashion products are involved. And if you want to run a successful business, you will need to adapt and change as well.
Matthew and Chris from Custom Plugs know this all too well. They’ve managed to make their eCommerce website for ear gauges and plugs, ear stretchers, body jewelry and accessories, and alternative clothing into a multi-million pound success. How? By being up to date with the latest trends!
Here they talk us through the trends they have seen come and go for the past ten years.
Body modification grew in the ‘00s
By the time the ’00s came around, the body art movement was well-established and the current body modification (as we now know it) was just starting to become popular as part of an evolving counter culture. As body modification grew in popularity, it became more mainstream thanks to a number of high-profile musicians, and extended to the catwalks and stages across the globe.
As a part of this trend, ear stretching was increasing in popularity, driven in part by the emo culture in the ’00s. More places were offering ear stretching as an alternative to piercing. DIY kits also became available on the open market.
The alternative scene continued to grow in popularity, bringing a whole new wave of trends into play. A lot of festivals started using emo bands as headliners, which helped popularise the culture, giving us a bigger audience to go after.
Starting Custom Plugs
One of the driving forces of us starting the business was that we were frustrated by the lack of choice on what was offered. We decided that we wanted to expand the offering and give people more choice in their alternative jewellery.
Bright and plastic
When we started out in our business, we were focusing on products that we personally liked. The trends back then revolved around very brightly coloured designs, generally in plastics. Spikes were very popular, as were silicone tunnels.
Extreme body modifications
As time moved on, ear spacers made from wood and metal grew in popularity, and ear stretching became bigger and more extreme, with the world record being set for the largest tunnel in 2014, and the most flesh tunnels in 2015.
The Media’s influence
Unsurprisingly, games, TV, and cult films also influence trends, as do seasonalities and hot news topics. We follow these closely and have some great ranges to support most current trends.
The link between gauges and counterculture means that trends for gothic style products never really go out of demand. There’s always been a nod towards magic, divination, and the occult, as well as viking, and medieval time periods.
Environmental and lifestyle shifts
In more recent years, things have simmered slightly, moving away from more extreme gauges. We’ve seen environmental issues affecting the globe, which shifted the demand from plastics towards organic-style products.
These trends were further enhanced by the vegan movement. Organic and vegan-friendly products are still in demand even now. However, current trends are leaning more towards intricate, aesthetically beautiful jewelry with natural stones and metals and more organic shapes.
Twisting the classics
Dangle plugs that extend to look more like an earring are increasingly in demand, and we’re expanding our range to meet this with some really exciting and beautiful options. Saddle/spreader plugs are also on the increase, which are a more interesting and intricate take on the traditional round plugs that have been popular for so long.
Of course, customised jewellery is becoming increasingly popular. This isn’t inherently new, but the technology is. Before you could create a jewellery design (if you had the budget) and potentially add an initial engraving. But thanks to new processes, 3D printing, and the ability to create designs by uploading an image, these types of customised plugs are becoming increasingly more popular as people strive for further individuality.
Customising jewellery and ear plugs is a really exciting way to express yourself, and we see this aspect as a very big part of our future. We’re sourcing a greater range of materials and working on an easier way for our customers to design their own plugs.
There’s always a new trend, and while we’re close to our audience and fairly good at spotting trends as they arise, the difficulty we have is in managing stock levels to meet the demand and knowing how long it will last. We don’t want to be left with loads of surplus stock, but we still need to meet customer demand.
It’s a difficult balance but one that we happily accept to make sure our customers are always getting what they want.