Meet the designers behind the architecture-inspired jewelry line that’s mixing recycled metals with classic designs to stand the test of time.
What inspired you to start AGMES?
Morgan: I’ve always loved finding unique pieces. I used to work in a very corporate job where I had to wear a black suit or dress every day. I used jewelry as a means to express my personality and aesthetic, even in the confines of the dull world of “business casual”. The desire to create jewelry was always there, but it wasn’t until I started working for a private label women’s collection that I got to experience the design process from start to finish. I had thought I wanted to be a buyer, but the experience of working in design with a private label – which involves elements of the creative and branding process from inspiration, design, advertising and PR – reignited my passion to be a designer and have a creative outlet. Jewelry has always been my favorite medium to express my personal style – from when I was a kid playing in my mom’s closet to creating my own pieces at camp at 8 years old!
How was the transition from working in corporate fashion to having your own line?
M: It definitely had its challenges, but ultimately has been really enjoyable, as I’ve gained more flexibility and am my own boss. Instead of checking with a manager before making big decisions, everything is on us – which can be both exciting and scary. One of the biggest challenges for me has been figuring out how to balance work and a social life. As our dad always tells us, it’s important to work hard and play hard! Having our own line is a lot like having a baby, there’s always more that can be done and you never want to feel like you didn’t do enough. While it can get overwhelming to have so much on our plate, it’s extremely rewarding to see AGMES grow from an idea into a collection and now seeing our pieces on friends and strangers.
Why jewelry? What are the key elements you look for in a piece?
M: To me, jewelry has always been a sizeless way to show your personality through fashion. Unlike other accessories that serve a more practical purpose – like shoes or bags – jewelry is the most fun and accessible way to accessorize any outfit and make it your own.
Jaclyn: We’ve also been mindful of keeping the pieces comfortable and as lightweight as possible.
Who do you feel is the quintessential AGMES customer?
J: A woman who is drawn to unique, but classic pieces. She has an understated sophistication, yet there is something distinctive that sets her apart. She’s not into bling, but loves a refined statement piece.
M: The AGMES customer appreciates purposeful design and cares about quality, but is also environmentally conscious. She isn’t necessarily looking for expensive, flashy pieces but beautiful statements to punctuate her look. She’s someone who wants a modern heirloom – timeless and precious.
What’s your daily uniform?
J: Vintage jeans and a sweater or t-shirt.
M: Culottes, cropped top, mules, and a variation of AGMES jewelry.
What’s your favorite piece from the collection?
M: It’s hard to pick a favorite – I imagine it’s like picking a favorite child. I wear all the pieces in the collection, depending on my outfit, but the ones I wear most are the Cliff Cuff, Wide Boeri Ring, and a variation of the layered block rings, usually the Open Block Ring with a Thin Block Ring. The earrings are the pieces I change the most. I love the Tower Earrings!
How do you think AGMES differs from any brand out there?
M: AGMES is unique in that we mix modern designs with recycled precious metals. High quality materials are very important to us. Many brands choose to work with diamonds and precious gems, where we are focusing more on what we can sculpt out of the metals themselves.
J: We work only with precious metals to create these architectural, sculptural shapes. Rather than create fleeting pieces that follow the current trends, it was really important to us to make pieces that we feel can stand the test of time and, in turn, construct them in materials that will also last forever. Our mom passed down a lot of beautiful pieces to us and I just love the idea of these pieces being passed down to the next generation. There’s something very special about that to me.
Who are some of your favorite designers right now? What’s inspiring you at the moment?
J: In terms of current designers, Phoebe Philo is still ever inspiring. As are Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, my old stomping ground. And what Alessandro Michele, Demna Gvasalia, and Jonathan Anderson have been doing over at Gucci, Balenciaga, and Loewe, respectively, are really exciting to me right now. We often look to architecture, design, and sculpture ranging from the 1950’s to 1970’s for inspiration. There is a vast array of incredible material there from which to work.
M: I’m not one to just follow one designer or one aesthetic. I love and admire so many designers but for me I am inspired and drawn to pieces that are special to me and not just the designer that made them. Right now I’ve been really inspired by ikebana – the beautiful, minimalist, and almost peaceful art of Japanese floral design. It’s minimal but each element and piece is placed so purposefully and strategically creating the perfect balance in the end.
What’s up next for AGMES?
M: We’d like to start incorporating stones into our designs. I think stones add another dimension and lots of possibilities, but it’s also a new medium for us to learn and play with.
J: We want to grow the business slowly. We just shipped to some of our first retailers, which we’re really excited about. And we would like to continue to expand the wholesale business at a gradual pace. In this day and age, I think so many new businesses want to skyrocket to immediate fame, which unfortunately can often lead to a quick demise. To us, it’s very important to progress the business while staying true to our small-scale foundation.