Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
When “that S thing” jewelry flashed across my Twitter timeline (h/t Jon Moy), I couldn’t put words to the wave of nostalgia I felt. Partially because I still don’t really know what the fuck to call this thing. It’s a geometric shape created out of a bunch of lines. But it’s also a thing I spent hours doodling in notebooks when I was in elementary and middle school. It never really mattered, and still doesn’t, what this thing is; it’s just really cool. And now decades later, it’s amazing jewelry — a Pendant Necklace ($125), a Choker ($145), and Dangly Earrings ($110) — from New York-based brand Westies & Co.
Westies & Co. is a two-year-old venture from Fahmina Ahmed and Fasil Alemante. Alemante says he’s the business-minded left brain while Ahmed, who also runs a 3D printing factory, is the creative right brain. The brand’s new “S collection” is just the latest in its irreverent, internet-inspired jewelry — in addition to the S thing, you can also find a $715 gold pendant designed to look like the broken image icon.
All of Westies & Co.’s designers are divined through “our collective internet history,” but the S collection was inspired by a request from Los Angeles-based designer Ryan Resco, according to Alemante. “He had the idea for a pendant based off of that ‘S’ thing we all drew in the ‘90s.” That S thing we all drew in the ‘90s is about the best description you can find for this soothing shape. Vice did a deep dive and couldn’t pin down its origins — it’s been spotted across the globe; some say it was created in the ‘90s, while others say it was popular in the ‘60s (one person in the Racked office says she definitely drew it in the ‘80s) — and could only find one absolute truth: “It's just the most fun ever.”
This explanation isn’t too far off from Alemante’s own inspiration to expand Resco’s request into a full collection. “It’s one of the last true fads, a symbol that spread nationwide before the proliferation of the internet and manufactured trends,” he says. “Millions of people drew this symbol without even knowing what it meant. Now, they get to wear it.”
Alemante also isn’t naive to the fact that the “world is definitely close to peak ‘90s nostalgia.” Dressing up the lovable “S thing” in silver and charging $145 for a choker is an idea Vetements designer Demna Gvasalia is probably so mad he didn’t think of. Especially since the “S thing” is undeniably good design.
Technically, the “S thing” is similar to a Moebius strip (a looped object with only one side), which makes Westies & Co. an ideal brand to tackle this shape because it 3D prints all its jewelry. Alemante says 3D printing makes his designs more exact and is “one of the major tools of the modern jeweler.” The technology “enables a lot more precision and complexity in designs,” especially when compared to the traditional process of making jewelry by hand, Alemante explains.
From perfecting this design on your notebook to something 3D-printed you pay over $100 for, the “S thing” has come a long way in the past decades. Best of all, Westies & Co. is offering 15% off the whole store if you use the code 404FOREVER.