IN 2019, Christian Conner is considering buying a membership to Soho House, a social club in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. The then 28-year-old media consultant showed up for this amusement park tour for the hipster elite in his classic “neat to the touch” uniform—a tracksuit coat, slacks and one of his prized Gucci ties. Everything was going smoothly, he recalls, until his guide turned to him and said, “Hey, you need to take your tie off. We wanted to create a more relaxed atmosphere and prevent people from wearing ties.” Mr Conner was taken aback. “I thought, this is crazy. This tie is so cool, so why are you telling me not to wear it?” (When asked for comment, a Soho House representative posted a link to the House Rules page on its website asking members and guests to “keep it cool.”)
Interest in ties has waned for some time, but the last two years of schlubby comfortable pandemic outfits have dimmed their future. Business formality has become almost dead, and over the months, our collective dance cards for occasions that require bonding like weddings, bar mitzvahs, and festive birthday parties have been effectively scrapped. Even as we approach the new normal, there are less and less back-to-the-office dress codes and parties requiring a neatly tied tie. Can this once important accessory be kept?
Certain men feel strongly that it should, but even some professionals who used to wear a tie every day are now hesitant to wear it to work for fear of being teased. Investor George Birman, 33, of Shelter Island, NY, spent years building his necktie repertoire for business dinners, client meetings and the like. His prized collection is now “tucked neatly in his drawer,” deserted and dusty, he said. “And if I came into the office with a tie these days, someone would make a joke and ask, ‘How was your interview?’”
Even so, the tie market is not quite catatonic. According to Macy’s male general business manager, Sam Archibald, the tie has “healthier momentum…than we expected” in 2022 so far. The days of extended office mandate ties may be over, but “event-based” ties are on the move. “You see less of what you would see as a ‘banker tie’ and more business in what I call a ‘casual tie,’ said Mr. Archibald. “Bright and mold definitely works. A floral tie is perfect for us.”
Smaller retailers have also noticed a shift to party time ties. Larry Mahoney, longtime manager of Andover Shop, a menswear store in Cambridge, Mass., remembers when a tie was “an essential part of a well-dressed men’s outfit,” and you wouldn’t dare go to the office, to dinner, or to a party. professional engagement without one around your neck. “I would say that maybe 10 years ago, the tie started to decline, although it did hold on for a while.” Currently, the shop tie business, he said, is driven more by men who come to the event than businessmen.
SHARE YOUR MIND
What is the most meaningful tie you own?
Ties can also still be found on the margins of culture, in societies that historically have not worn a tie. Leon Elias Wu, founder of Los Angeles gender-inclusive custom suit brand SharpeHaus, sees a tie as a less-than-tactful proposition to work with these days and more of a new fashion statement, especially when its traditional — and traditional — manliness serves as a tool to help one adjust. —reduced. “Just putting a tie on because it’s an opportunity that doesn’t work out for everyone,” he said. “But look at what Avril Lavigne did with a tie 20 years ago—it can really be used to make a statement, whether you’re a formal guy, a female rocker or just someone trying to stand out.
The Three Men in Their Bond Will Never Be Forsaken
Ties are not just a formal fashion accessory—they can carry sentimental value. Here, the leading necktie fan explains the bond they will cherish forever.
“I am a creature of my upbringing—from my early years growing up in Virginia when I owned every color of Izod shirt, every color of Polo shirt, wore them religiously and washed them all pastel. I remember the beautiful ritual of my dad standing behind me and showing me how to tie the different knots of a tie—and I still have this blue and yellow striped tie from Eljo in Charlottesville.”
Television Personality and former New York Giants Defensive End
“Most of my ties remind me of special moments. When I go to space [with
on Blue Origin in 2021] I have a space relationship with spaceships and stars and rockets…That’s the great thing about ties. It can have its own individual story. It’s something you can share or keep close to yourself…But the only tie I’ll never part with is the black tie. Straight black tie.”
“I have about 75 ties, and 90% of them are Herms. But I have a Herms tie my sister gave me. He was an art dealer with meticulous taste. It has a red background with a small blue-white turtle. He gave it to me when I was straight out of college and every time I wore that tie to an interview I had a 100% success rate in getting the job.”
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