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How the History Channel’s Vikings Inspired Street Style

Not all that glitters is gold

Vogue and Elle online run stories lately about how Game of ThronesSpartacus: Blood and Sand, and The Borgias impact runways. (Cue shots of models sashaying down runways in pseudo-medieval silks and “armor-inspired” leggings with only the most tenuous link to anything actually worn on the show.) “Get Cersei Lannister’s Look” and “Gauzy Gowns Echo Spartacus’ Style” run the click bait captions. We can debate how much actually translates down into any literal street style; the real impact is subtler—maybe best demonstrated by fans of Vikings, on the History Channel.

The sudden discovery of nerd culture by high fashion isn’t new—it’s gone on for decades without acknowledgement. But now, the über popularity of fantasy, SF, and any history programs set earlier than Downtown Abbey carry enough cache for the fashion world to admit to it.

Beyond the runways, what does that mean? Outside cosplay, there aren’t many fake chainmail blouses or swishy Borgia dresses, and there’s a distinct lack of guys in leather imitating Jon Snow and Jaime Lannister (more’s the pity). But somehow one show, Vikings, sank into the street style zeitgeist, with folks actually wearing identifiable jewelry straight from the episodes, thanks to the ready availability of frankly pretty amazing jewelry designs made by Danny Hansen at The Crafty Celts.

The South Carolina-based company has been around for a while, mostly serving that historical reenactor set, cosplay, and the occasional Ren Fair goer. But these gorgeous, moderately priced ornaments possessed the necessary historical bona fides to catch the eye of Vikings‘ designers. Hansen shipped off his bronze dragon-head bracelets to the show on a whim. It quickly became a featured object of desire, worn by Ragnar and Aethelstan. Viewers have seen plenty of close ups as the “ring” or “arm ring” (a sign of favor from your liege in Viking culture) got returned to Ragnar in season two. Hansen also sent a couple of wolf-head arm rings.

Viewers went crazy. The Crafty Celts saw sales of the one item soar, and their Facebook fans went from about 10,000 last October to 143,000 six months later. Danny, who hasn’t even seen season two, says he’s not positive that’s all Vikings, but sales of that bracelet shot through the roof. “We would have seen an increase in sales no matter what, although almost half of the orders are that one bracelet from Vikings.”

Hansen made the wolf-head arm rings distinctive for the show: “I lost the records of what I originally sent for first season, but I specifically know of two pieces—the dragon bracelets and the wolf arm rings that both Ragnar and his son Bjorn wear—his son is given his in the very first episode. The arm rings are actually wolf brooches without the pin,” says Hansen.

Now viewers wear Crafty Celt stuff every day. The hair pins, earrings, and pendants are proliferating in unexpected places, and folks far out of the nerd lifestyle are adopting them after seeing Vikings—or on friends. And men are picking up on the arm rings (and maybe ordering a Thor’s hammer or something too) in emulation of Travis Fimmel’s badass Ragnar. Hansen just sent a huge selection over for season three filming, so look for more on the show, and around you in the real world, as that season premieres.

Fantasy design really bleeds into street style via striking and style-impacting elements made readily available. It’s not just obsessive fans, but those who’ve fallen in love with the look without necessarily being into cosplay or fandom in general. Hey, if a cool statement bracelet encourages you to watch creative programming, that’s a win. If geek culture fandom can breed real elements of fashion, maybe someday genuine appreciation for the design will bring new, unfamiliar fans to the original shows that inspired it. And honestly, do you want to channel a Real Housewife or Siggy and Lagertha?

Previously in Vikings

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