When it comes to accessories, men have few options; basically, the tie, the watch, the briefcase. But there’s an old favourite in the dresser drawer worth reconsidering: the cufflink. Having lit the fuse on the cufflinks market in the early nineties, Robert Tateossian’s eponymous label continues to have success around the world. No surprise, then, that he’s been called the King of Cufflinks.
“It really happened by accident,” says Tateossian. After working for Merrill Lynch in New York and London, “I wanted to be my own boss, and so left finance. On a trip in Thailand, visiting temples and silver factories, I was drawn to a box with cufflinks—probably 30 pairs—and bought the box for $100.” He brought them back to London and “showed them to Harrods, who bought the whole lot.”
What began as a holiday for a tired banker metamorphosed into an enterprise. “Three months later,” he says, “I got a call requesting a new collection, and I said, ‘New collection? That was a one-off deal!’ ” Tateossian started up the company that bears his name in 1990.
He has a critical eye for style, for which he credits his upbringing; he was born in Kuwait and raised in Italy. “My father worked for Qatar Airways, and I had to escort my parents’ friends who were visiting [Rome] from Kuwait and didn’t speak English or Italian.” While translating for sheiks and negotiating discounts at boutiques on the famous shopping streets in Rome, Tateossian was exposed to the finer things at a young age. “It definitely influences you,” he says. “Living in Rome is the perfect basis for understanding style and design.”
Cufflinks remain the core of his business (they make up 80 per cent of his sales) but Tateossian also has a jewellery line for women and men (all available at Holt Renfrew).
His latest collection, Rare Stones, features cufflinks with diamonds, gemstones, gold nuggets, and South Sea Baroque pearls that are either one-of-a-kind or limited editions numbering 10.
“My happy, il mio capriccio,” he says, “is the Rare Stones Collection.” He gesticulates with flair, as only Italians can.