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Wallets and grommets: what is a grommet and do you need one?

What is a grommet? Excellent question. Grommets are little circular eyelets with many, many useful purposes. In electrics, they are used to stop cables chaffing when they run through whatever they’re run through. In the NHS, they are tubes that are inserted into an eardrum as a way of treating and/or preventing glue ear.

A miniskirt studded with grommets on the Anthony Vaccarello AW15 catwalk. Photograph: REX Shutterstock/REX Shutterstock

In fashion, they are designed to prevent rubbing or tearing of the pierced material, say on a belt or on shoe buckles. But this autumn, they have taken on a new, non-functional aesthetic role as useless accoutrements, a bit like studs. Do you need them? Well, no, but that’s the point. Like studs, they follow a long tradition of souping-up garments – you know, making them bespoke. In the early 1970s, the Guardian ran an article that linked studs, grommets’ predecessor, to the tradition of pearly kings.

A model with a grommeted bag on the Sonia Rykiel AW15 catwalk. Photograph: SIPA/REX Shutterstock/SIPA/REX Shutterstock

Jacquemus zhushed up his comic, asymmetric-heavy collection with “self-belts” looped through giant grommets. Marc Jacobs turned them into giant lace-up belts that tied up like bodices. Sonia Rykiel ran them down her handbag straps. Anthony Vaccarello, meanwhile, treated them like studs, covering his miniskirts with them.

A ‘self-belt’ run through a grommet on the Jacquemus AW15 catwalk. Photograph: REX Shutterstock/REX Shutterstock

Fashion is pretty encouraging when it comes to indulging ourselves with things that serve no purpose. And while grommets won’t keep you warm, they do look nice. And, on occasion, keep your belt in check. That’s one way to prove your metal.

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