Neckwear Notes: When customers don’t get the product

by Harry Sheff

I noticed a tweet last week from the Minneapolis men’s store MartinPatrick3. Apparently a customer had asked why anyone would buy a cashmere tie. The cheeky response was “Because you want people to know how much you like Wes Anderson.” The ties were from Altea, $145 retail.

But let’s look for a moment at what a crazy question that was. It’s like asking why anyone would buy a fast car; I mean, there are speed limits, so why do you need your car to be fast? Clearly, the person asking the question doesn’t care about cars. Likewise, the guy asking about cashmere ties isn’t into ties. He needs some style counseling, and I’m sure Sam and Greg at MartinPatrick3 are up to the task.

I had a similar conversation on the trade show floor with my colleague Elise Diamantini and Brent Kestin from the soft coat collection Kroon. Both had stories about guys being uncomfortable with ties that aren’t made of shiny silk. Wool, for some, is stepping way too far outside of polite behavior. Is there any hope for neckwear if guys can’t envision a tie that isn’t boring?

“Why would you wear a knit tie?” asked MMG Neckwear’s Dave Klaus rhetorically when I brought the subject up on the show floor. “How could you understand it if you aren’t seeing it on display in the stores? There’s a ton of business to be done in regular ties, but if that makes up 80 percent of your ties, you still need 20 percent that’s new: knits, colors, etc. Put it out there and see if it hurts. The retailers have to lead the customers into fashion.”

Of course, many stores like MartinPatrick3 in Minneapolis, Haberdash in Chicago, Stag in Austin and Context in Madison, all of them outside the traditional fashion centers of New York and Los Angeles, do a great job showing exciting neckwear.

And I’m happy to report that neckwear designers and manufacturers have been doing their parts to make ties interesting — whether they’re silk or not. Here’s a small sampling from the New York and Las Vegas shows:

Dion Neckwear’s vibrant silk prints, $110 retail.

Breuer silk shantung with a cotton boucle finish, available in seven colors, $150 retail.

Rooster polyester knits, $39.50 retail.

Monitaly cotton ties, approx. $85-$90 retail.

RVR’s blown-up dots, $185 retail.