TikTok Star Loren Gray’s Debut Jewelry Collection is All About Accessible Glamour

Photo: Courtesy of &always 

For the over-30 set, Loren Gray’s name may not be familiar, but for Generation Z, she’s a household name. As one of TikTok’s most popular users, Gray charms her nearly 50 million followers with 15-second video clips that offer girl-next-door glamour and the app’s prerequisite lip-synced renditions of pop hits. At just 18, Gray already juggles being an influencer and a recording artist—she signed to Capitol Records in 2018, home of Katy Perry and Migos—but she felt 2020 was the right moment to step into a new role, entrepreneur. With everyone and their mother currently dropping a streetwear label or beauty brand, Gray wanted to stand out from the crowd and start an affordable, on-trend jewelry line named &always. “I didn’t really see anyone within the influencer space making jewelry,” she shared over Zoom chat. “I wanted to build something for my community, and I’ve always found jewelry to be sentimental.” 


Gray’s love for statement jewelry is instantly evident. Over Zoom, she sports an array of silver hair clips, chains, and coordinated earrings. Each piece is from her new collection, but a quick scroll through her feed reveals that she’s always embraced the beauty of bling. “Even before I thought to make a brand, I would wear my chains and hoops every day,” she says. “I just love dressing up my outfits.” Still, making a move from jewelry enthusiast to creative director required immersion in the industry’s manufacturing side. “This has been an educational experience,” says Gray, who worked for a year to perfect her wares. “There are a lot of things that you don’t necessarily realize as a consumer. I had to learn, but it was fun to go behind the scenes and see how everything works.” 


Understanding how a piece moved from sketch to reality informed Gray’s choice to use in house e-commerce. As she opted for a direct-to-consumer model, not having a middleman allowed her to price the entire collection with her teenage fans in mind. “I wanted this to be affordable, so the price point is $16 to $44,” she explains. Keeping the line environmentally friendly was also essential. “All of our packaging is 100% recyclable and reusable,” says Gray of the line’s oversized tin cases that can double as jewelry boxes. “That was so important to me. It took a lot of meetings and planning to get things right.” 


Photo: Courtesy &always

Of course, releasing a collection isn’t all appointments and number crunching, and Gray found the design process thrilling. She insisted on being hands on and hit the books—and Pinterest—to study jewelry styles and create mood boards. “Obviously, there are a lot of things going on in my life, but I think when you’re passionate about something, it makes the work 10x easier,” she says. “I wanted to be genuinely involved. It’s easy just to put your name on something, but if I’m going to be the founder, then I’m going to be creating it.” 


Though she compiled countless pin-boards and folders worth of imagery, it was a trip to Los Angeles’s Max Factor Building that set Gray into motion. The Hollywood Museum housed inside the historic structure boasts the world’s largest memorabilia collection from cinema’s golden age. After getting a peek, Gray focused her designs on Old Hollywood glamour and the retrofuturism of the 1950s. A celestial theme runs through some of the pieces with crescent moons and clusters of stars adoring ear-cuffs or hair clips. Rose tinted pearls and silver beading on bracelets offer vintage vibes, but can be stacked and layered for a very 2020 sense of eclecticism. Some of the references hold a deeper meaning. “We have this vintage mirror shape throughout,” she explains. “It’s because I wanted to transform the mirror from a symbol of insecurity to one of confidence.” 


Divided into a core collection of permanent pieces and  a limited-edition capsules, &always’s debut drop brings some retro flair to its Gen-Z audience. Most teenagers aren’t doing a deep dive into the studio era, but Gray finds the movies and starlets fascinating. “It inspires me, especially anything involving Marilyn Monroe,” she says. “Her courage, fierceness, and confidence were something that I wanted to represent within this collection.” Encouraging her followers to embrace their inner power is something Gray hopes this collection can do. A collector of unique accessories—denim Chanel purses and pastel MCM mini-backpacks are among her favorites—she understands the boost that can come from adding an outfit’s final touch. “I hope they feel confident when they wear these; I hope they feel beautiful,” she says. “This makes me feel beautiful, and I want to share that feeling with them.” 


After a year spent in development, Gray is also eager to see how her fans style her creations. Set for release on December third with a schedule of “editions” drops to follow she’ll soon get her wish. “It’s been such a fun process, and I’m excited for everyone to be able to finally wear the jewelry,” she says. “I’m also looking forward to hearing their feedback. Some people get nervous about critique, but I want to know what they’re saying so we can make the brand even better. I want to be able to improve and expand into new things [my audience] will enjoy, to grow with them and for them.” 

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