Semi Precious Weapons frontman Justin Tranter has a lot to be thrilled about these days: His brand new album, You Love You, has just been released; Vogue has touted the band as “deliciously animated” and the band has the coveted opening slot on his friend Lady Gaga’s worldwide Monster Ball tour.
On the side, the multi-talented Tranter is a creative jewelry designer, offering the same sense of humour and street style as in his music. The line is called Fetty, a portmanteau — and very apropos — mix of the words “f**ked up” and “pretty,” with pieces such as “Shot Through The Heart,” a heart and gun charm; and “I Saw My Love,” a heart with a saw.
While the low-end version of the line was once available at retailers in North America, it is now reserved for Semi Precious Weapons’ merchandise tables, and high-end line is on sale at Barney’s in the U.S. and soon to be at Holt Renfrew in Canada.
“The collection is inspired by our album, You Love You,” says Tranter. “I took a classic engagement ring and cast it, diamonds and all, and then we poured it in sterling so it looks like it’s a diamond, but, really, it’s all just one big piece of metal. You then put it on a necklace so it’s the ‘You Love You’ necklace. Girls get engaged to themselves.”
Invention is nothing new for Tranter, an androgenous pretty boy with lots of eye makeup, stiletto heels and a mock cocky attitude as evidenced by such song lyrics as “I can’t pay my rent, but I’m F**kin’ gorgeous.” This impression trickles its way into his jewelry design as well. “ We play around with reinventing classic things,” he says. “Like the Claddagh ring – the Irish ring with two hands holding a heart that was originally a wedding band in Ireland. Our interpretation is having that ring on a necklace and putting a hole through the heart.”
The Illinois native learned about the jewelry trade from his mother’s business, and worked in a jewelry store after he moved to New York City to get his music career off the ground. He started designing the Fetty line with very modest intentions: to sell it as band merchandise at Semi Precious Weapons gigs. “I didn’t want a day job anymore so I somehow made the jewelry line work. Now that I look back on it, it was, like, the dumbest idea ever,” he laughs. “Everyone and their mother has a jewelry line, so in retrospect maybe not the smartest fall back plan. But it ended up working out great!”
Great, indeed. Mass-market heavy-weight Urban Outfitters and pop culture retail chain Hot Topic picked up the low-end line and reportedly moved more than 100,000 pieces, the profits from which Tranter funneled back into the band to record its 2008 indie album, We Love You. Fast-forward to today and, although Semi Precious Weapons has been on tour with Lady Gaga since November, Tranter says he’s “100 percent” involved with Fetty.
“Right now, we’re just focusing on the high-end stuff that’s at Barney’s and trying to expand that internationally with new collections,” he says. “We want Fetty to live on its own, and keep the low-end stuff as band merchandise, so there’s an obvious distinction between what is SPW merch and what is Fetty.”
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