Crowd Shortcuts – a quick chat about something that’s caught our attention. This week, how men’s bracelets have become the ultimate social signifier…

What’s all this then? Charmed, beaded, woven… the humble bracelet has become the latest menswear trend catapulted into the limelight. From A-listers to activists, stacks of bracelets strung around wrists have become a new, subtle social signifier for men with something to say.

A few beads can’t really say that much, can they? Turns out they can, actually. For men of a certain status, wearing a well chosen bracelet is a way of campaigning without overtly campaigning. 

I don’t buy it. Surely nobody that important is wearing one? Two words: King Charles.

The King Of England? Wearing a bracelet? Yep. The first portrait since the start of his reign was released ahead of this month’s coronation. The painting depicts the King in his signature look – pinstripe suit, pocket square, smize – all pretty normal. But a closer look reveals a black braided bracelet with a gold trim and red beads, positioned just below the King’s watch. This bracelet was presented to him by Domingo Peas, the leader of the Ecuadorian Amazon’s Achuar community, during a meeting to discuss the implementation of global biodiversity plans. The artist included the bracelet to symbolise the King’s commitment to climate change and sustainability.

So this isn’t just men wearing old festival wristbands? No, this is much more intentional. Unlike festival wristbands that are usually forgotten and left on for the entire summer, the bro-celet is a carefully considered accessory – often with a heavy subtext. For Charles, the inclusion is a subtle nod to his positioning as an environmentalist King. 

Clever! These are very carefully planned. Men are purchasing them from designer boutiques and incorporating them into their daily wardrobes. Work, gym, pub; the bro-celet is a constant companion, favoured by both bankers in boardrooms and tech bros in Silicon Valley who wear them as a savvy power move, often paired down with an Apple watch.

And what about those A-listers you mentioned? Bro-celets have appeared on the wrists of some big names, like David Beckham, Harry Styles, Timothée Chalamet and Brad Pitt. It’s a subtle way to show some rebellion, and can easily be hidden under a sleeve when needed. Plus, many of these bracelets have a charitable connection, which is a nice bonus for those who want to avoid getting too political about capitalism and what not.

I was planning on wearing a tuxedo today, can I still ‘bro-celet’? Go for it! While some may assume a casual bracelet wouldn’t go with a formal suit, like the one worn by King Charles, the mix of high and low is all part of the charm.

TL;DR: Want to tell the world how much you care about [insert charitable cause], but are too busy getting ahead? Throw on a bro-celet and let your accessory of choice do the talking for you.