SITTING between the categories of fine jewellery’s precious gemstones and costume jewellery’s lacklustre metals is demi-fine jewellery – a new and upcoming segment of jewellery that gained momentum abroad before making its way to Malaysia through Zaireen Iskandar and Athiya Hamid’s brand, ‘KIN.
‘KIN demi-fine jewellery uses only precious metals as its base, finished with 2.5 microns thick 14k to 24k gold vermeil and rhodium over 925 sterling silver, and embellished with only precious or semi-precious gemstones.
“We wanted to make jewellery that were suitable for adult women, something of quality and refined, not fast-fashion accessories that made our ears itch,” says Zaireen.
From good friends to business partners, Zaireen and Athiya are similar yet different in so many ways in which they complement each other when running ‘KIN. They share the same sense of humour, style and interest, as well as drive and passion.
In fact, the quintessential ‘KIN woman is a lot like Zaireen and Athiya – one who knows her worth and does not dawdle around for there is not much time to waste because typically, time is not on her side.
Athiya explains: “She is just an everyday woman with responsibilities and obligations to uphold. Even though her fashion sense is fuss-free, she still loves accessorising, just not with costume jewellery. It’s also important for her to look and feel good while getting things done.
‘KIN built its foundation on hoop earrings and naturally, the core collection since its debut in 2019 grew in numbers and in size but one thing remains, the form.
From big curves to huggie silhouettes, to pieces with crushed indents that ooze sculptural charm – all epitomising ‘KIN’s bold and masculine aesthetics with a mix of androgynous sensuality.
“To me, hoops mean ‘lady-on-a-mission’,” Athiya adds.
The designers exude an air of confidence which hoop earrings emulate just as well, contrary to the unflattering reputation that insinuates low camp and brashy.
It is a staple style that has long been a part of their daily dress-sense while feeding off inspiration from historical imageries and 90s pop culture.
Zaireen shares: “As individuals, we are not drawn to small and delicate jewellery. We are tomboys at heart, we listen to rock and roll, and we wear dresses with sneakers. But of course, femininity comes into play when we make jewellery. We are women, after all.
“In our second collection of chains and charms, we love the way 24 or 28-inch long necklaces sit gracefully on a woman’s decolletage, and our Egg charm is extremely feminine as it symbolises the start of life, which is what we women give.
“Our Brass holiday collection is masculine and chunkier in style, emanating empowerment and strength. But we believe it is really the hoop earrings that truly makes a woman stand out.
Hoop earrings have been an emblem of power and strength across many cultures and were worn by both men and women throughout history.
However, debates of its origin have been claimed by certain Hispanic and African American communities, further adding criticism against individuals wearing the accessory as cultural appropriation. But is it really?
Hoop earrings may carry a number of significance in some cultures. But it can also be argued that it does not necessarily or exclusively belong to any one culture, having been seen across time tracing way back to 1500 B.C. in Eygpt, 4th century Africa in Nubia (present day Sudan) and worn by Julius Caesar during his reign over Rome.
“Perhaps we ought to understand where this stems from, but it is also not our place to say what is appropriate culturally and offensive to a culture that is not ours,” said Zaireen.
“The world we live in is increasingly being globalised and connected. What we want to do as individuals and at ‘KIN is cultural appreciation, looking at and celebrating life where we find it – in nature, in appreciating classical architecture, in enjoying foreign cuisine, in wearing Spanish espadrilles or American denim, and the list goes on.”
“Prior to starting the brand, we never thought about the cultural appropriation of hoop earrings as it has always been a staple in our wardrobe, appreciating it being worn by women of multiple races at different times and periods.
“The classic hoop was something we wanted to produce and produce well because quite simply, we love wearing hoops. We love the look of hoops on anyone and everyone, and how empowering wearing a pair of hoops can be.
“Since then, we have spent time educating ourselves on the history of hoops. Everyone should be aware of the deep-rooted history that the simple hoop earring has, and how it evolved to such a staple in every woman’s wardrobe.”
‘KIN’s visual campaigns constantly feature a diverse group of women and celebrate multiracial diversity, while emphasising on the universality of the classic hoop earrings.