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The Great Frog Lands in New York

The London-based brand of biker jewelry that dubs itself the originator of skull rings has opened shop on New York City’s Lower East Side.

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NEW YORK — The Great Frog, a London-based accessories brand born in 1972 and known for its bold, silver, rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic, has expanded its retail footprint with its first freestanding boutique in the U.S.

 

Just under 500-square-feet, the new shop at 72 Orchard Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side replaced the By Robert James boutique, which relocated one door down. The company currently operates a shared store at 4657 Hollywood Blvd. in Los Feliz, Calif., and a flagship at 10 Ganton Street in London, with select pieces available at Harvey Nichols and via e-commerce on the brand’s Web site.

 

Designed to emulate the London flagship, the Manhattan boutique houses its collection in vintage display cabinets amongst scattered drum sets and a motorcycle in the shop’s window. A behind-the-scenes “making of” video that details the shop’s journey to fruition can be seen on the brand’s Facebook page.

 

“Our jewelry, with all the skulls and rock imagery, can be intimidating enough for customers,” said proprietor Christopher Thompson. “But we do love music, therefore guitars and drums are incorporated alongside motorbikes and leather jackets [in the store]... It all works together to appeal to a rock and roll lifestyle that our jewelry encapsulates.”

 

As the self-proclaimed “originator of the skull ring,” the human cranium inevitably dominates the store’s unisex and mostly silver collection in various forms — on hats, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, pendants and, of course, rings — and occasionally with a sense of humor (e.g., the “Michael Rodent,” a skull ring with Mickey Mouse ears). Head designer Reino Lehtonen-Riley, son of original founders Paterson Riley & Carol Lehtonen-Riley, also displays a proclivity for wolves, goats, crossbones, cobras, eyeballs, spiders, bullets and other imagery — always with a touch of sinister — throughout the store’s merchandise. Prices range from $100 to upwards of $1,000 for more precious metals.

 

The brand has several bold-faced fans including Lady Gaga, Johnny Depp, Kate Moss, Mickey Rourke, Ewan MacGregor and Alexa Chung — not to mention a slew of very famous musicians — The Rolling Stones, Mötley Crüe, Metallica, Slayer and Iggy Pop.

 

An upcoming collaboration with Motörhead is in the works, as well, which came about naturally since The Great Frog designed Ian “Lemmy” Klimister’s original Warpig ring 30 years ago.

 

“Lemmy hasn’t designed the rings but he has had full and final approval,” said Thompson. “Each ring will have have its own personal limited edition number engraved in the back, with the first five going to the band and management.”

 

The brand plans to expand into Paris in 2012 and eventually, Japan.