Call it the war of the piercing salons. The heat is on in the rapidly growing body piercing jewelry category, which is teeming with new players revitalized since COVID-19 restrictions began to lift last summer.
It was then that shoppers flooded the reservation systems of luxury jewelry and piercing companies like Maria Tash and Love Adorned, seeking to mark the moment of new-found freedom with a new place for jewelry. While previously a faction of the jewelry industry’s counterculture, piercings are now in huge demand.
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Maria Tash is the most global and original of luxury body piercing salon jewelers, established by its namesake founder in 1993 and now with eight stores around the world and more to come. Love Adorned in Manhattan’s NoLIta neighborhood didn’t have Tash’s global reach, but was also instrumental in starting the piercing trend as a fashion that snowballed across the country.
But with frantic lines snaking around the block of these stores, other jewelers saw the opportunity to glue buyers’ earlobes with pieces of precious metals and stones.
Pamela Love, who in 2019 took a controlling stake that funded the launch of her body piercing jewelry line, says these styles now account for about half of her business. In April, she started a home piercing program where piercing artists travel to shoppers across Manhattan and Brooklyn to drill into them at their own kitchen table.
The following month, Alysa Teichman, whose parents founded Texan jewelry store Ylang23, implemented a new retail concept called Wildlike. A jewelry store and piercing salon that sells its own line of jewelry in addition to styles from Tash, Love, and other piercing brands, Wildlike is expected to grow nationwide over the next few years.
“It’s such an exciting space – it transcends any type of demographics. It’s not just women, it’s not just people of a certain age. It’s not just super pissed off people. People brought their teenager for a second hole on their 16th birthday and women over 80 came in for their ears pierced. It has been such a source of energy in our store and I am entrepreneurial, so I had this idea to develop the concept of piercing and develop it. I think the market is huge, ”Teichman said.
Meanwhile, a pre-COVID-19 piercing retailer is already in nationwide expansion mode. Studs, a piercing living room concept aimed at Gen Z, was founded in 2020 just before the pandemic lockdowns began by Anna Harman and Lisa Bubbers and is said to have Gwyneth Paltrow among its top investors. The company, which started in 2021 with two sites, should have about 10 stores across the United States before the end of this year.
“Piercing is something people really want to do and when they’re locked up for several months they want to come out and do something. You hardly can pierce your ears, ”said Harman, CEO and co-founder of Studs.
And now Piercing Pagoda, the mainstay of the mall, which last month, recognizing the widespread growth in a space it originated from, has relaunched as a youth-focused brand called ‘Banter by Piercing Pagoda ”. The company’s strategy includes a revitalized look for its mall kiosks, new trending merchandise and socially responsible marketing campaigns.
With currently 135 stores, Banter’s parent company, Signet Jewelers, plans a further 100 units by the end of 2022. Some will have smart mirrors that will allow for virtual fitting opportunities, as well as private piercing booths that break away from the crowd. the long-standing tradition of shopping centers. to be pierced for all to see.