Neckties’ New Future | Kanebridge News
Kanebridge News
Share Button

Neckties’ New Future

Tue, Mar 21, 2023 8:57amGrey Clock 3 min

Are boomers the generation that let fashion slide?

“We are the disruptors,” says Joseph DeAcetis, 58, creative director of the fashion blog StyleLujo, “the generation who let fashion go. We just got too lazy to dress well, to tell the truth.”

One early and lamentable casualty is the once taken-for-granted necktie. In a world where grown men now dress like their 12-year-old selves, replacing button-down shirts and wingtips with sneakers, jeans, T-shirts, and ball caps, the necktie is beginning to seem almost quaint, like a wardrobe item from an old movie, maybe Cary Grant old.

It is obviously not on the scale of a global calamity, but ties fading entirely from fashion would have lamentable downsides, partly because they are useful—adding polish and a splash of colour to neutral suits and sport coats—and partly because they are social signposts. For basically the entirety of the 20th century, and in some quarters right up until today, the stodgy old necktie has served as a beacon of what was unironically seen as respectability. Popping up your collar and knotting a tie conveyed a willingness to put yourself to some small trouble to announce yourself as part of society’s common enterprise, an outward sign of keeping yourself shipshape so you could contribute.

This arguably worthy goal may seem mossbacked when every day has become Dress Down Friday. From Steve Jobs’ pathbreaking turtleneck, to the photographs of the pointedly tieless leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations at Elmau, Germany, last June, to Sir Richard Branson scissoring ties off people’s shirts, an open collar now beams its own clued-in, future-aligned virtue signal. Even in some traditional business settings, it has become a badge of success not to have to wear a tie.

“A friend of mine just went for an important job interview in New York and I asked him if he wore a tie,” says Karen Alberg Grossman, editor of menswear trade publication MR Magazine. The guy said nope, he didn’t: “I was there for them to kiss up to me, not me to kiss up to them.”

Amid all this, tie makers might have to squint hard to locate any green shoots. But on the other hand, fashion trends are notoriously fickle. “The state of the tie market has been dismal,” Grossman says, “but there is a notable return to dress-up in menswear right now. I’m not sure I’d call it a comeback, but we will see more ties being sold in 2023 than 2022.”

Anne-Marie Colban, co-owner of Paris’ venerable Charvet, agrees. “We have been happily surprised since the Covid lockdown to see sartorial elegance make a strong comeback. And the desire to wear ties has come back along with it.”

But tie-wearing has come back changed, as Colban acknowledges. “Men wear ties for pleasure now, not because of social conventions,” she says. “A tie is an ornamental piece and an expression of refinement, not a constraint.”

It is a note you hear sounded elsewhere around the industry. There is a feeling—a hope, anyway—that neckties may be entering a new era of creativity and securing a smaller but vibrant niche as items of self-expression.

It is a bet Jonathan Meizler went all-in on 11 years ago. His Orchard Street atelier on New York’s Lower East Side, called Title of Work, handcrafts striking and outré ties at prices ranging from around $275 to $1,000. Incorporating elements like rattlesnake vertebrae, gauzy veils, hand-painting, and fine beadwork, they are, says Meizler, “a blending of the worlds of art and couture on a 58-inch by 2½-inch canvas.”

They are definitely not for everyone or for most daily occasions, nor does Meizler intend them to be. But what Title of Work’s works might be instead is the cutting edge of neckwear’s new direction. “As a symbol of masculine power, ties have fallen away,” Meizler says. “But as an avenue for defining yourself and your style, there is plenty of room for that.”

That avenue also looks promising to more mainstream luxury clothiers. “Nowadays, men wear ties because they want to, not because they have to,” explains Christophe Goineau, creative director of men’s silk for Hermès. “This has liberated the creative process considerably and invited reinvention: We can create a tie in grenadine silk, add a tufted horse head or a shower of embroidered motifs.”

“All the rules we knew have been abandoned,” Goineau adds. “The tie has become an easygoing and liberated fashion accessory.”



Today’s tie designers get creative with pattern and color

(1) Title of Work’s Plaid Beaded Necktie 1005

A deconstructed plaid pattern, intricate and asymmetrical, is hand-beaded and embroidered on tulle overlay. (US$800)

(2) Hermès’ 7 Faconnee New H tie in raisin

The 7 Faconnee New H is hand-sewn 100% silk twill. A series of infinite “H”s are revealed in the jacquard weave of this tie. Made in France. (US$215)

(3) Hermès’ Faconnee H 24 in orange

Hermès employs jacquard weaving to repeat the brand’s iconic “H” letters in this refined-casual hand-sewn, 100% silk twill tie. (US$215)

(4) Title of Work’s Standing Woman 1079

This free-form line drawing of a woman is hand- embroidered on tulle overlay. (US$500)

(5) Title of Work’s Line Gradient Necktie 075

This navy to burgundy gradient creates an ombré effect on this custom-woven silk twill tie. (US$225)

This article appears in the March 2023 issue of Penta magazine.


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

Related Stories
China’s EV Juggernaut Is a Warning for the West
By GREG IP 08/06/2023
How Hackers Can Up Their Game by Using ChatGPT
By Cheryl Winokur Munk 08/06/2023
World Bank Brightens View of Global Growth This Year, Downgrades 2024
By YUKA HAYASHI 07/06/2023
China’s EV Juggernaut Is a Warning for the West

Competitive pressure and creativity have made Chinese-designed and -built electric cars formidable competitors

Thu, Jun 8, 2023 4 min

China rocked the auto world twice this year. First, its electric vehicles stunned Western rivals at the Shanghai auto show with their quality, features and price. Then came reports that in the first quarter of 2023 it dethroned Japan as the world’s largest auto exporter.

How is China in contention to lead the world’s most lucrative and prestigious consumer goods market, one long dominated by American, European, Japanese and South Korean nameplates? The answer is a unique combination of industrial policy, protectionism and homegrown competitive dynamism. Western policy makers and business leaders are better prepared for the first two than the third.

Start with industrial policy—the use of government resources to help favoured sectors. China has practiced industrial policy for decades. While it’s finding increased favour even in the U.S., the concept remains controversial. Governments have a poor record of identifying winning technologies and often end up subsidising inferior and wasteful capacity, including in China.

But in the case of EVs, Chinese industrial policy had a couple of things going for it. First, governments around the world saw climate change as an enduring threat that would require decade-long interventions to transition away from fossil fuels. China bet correctly that in transportation, the transition would favour electric vehicles.

In 2009, China started handing out generous subsidies to buyers of EVs. Public procurement of taxis and buses was targeted to electric vehicles, rechargers were subsidised, and provincial governments stumped up capital for lithium mining and refining for EV batteries. In 2020 NIO, at the time an aspiring challenger to Tesla, avoided bankruptcy thanks to a government-led bailout.

While industrial policy guaranteed a demand for EVs, protectionism ensured those EVs would be made in China, by Chinese companies. To qualify for subsidies, cars had to be domestically made, although foreign brands did qualify. They also had to have batteries made by Chinese companies, giving Chinese national champions like Contemporary Amperex Technology and BYD an advantage over then-market leaders from Japan and South Korea.

To sell in China, foreign automakers had to abide by conditions intended to upgrade the local industry’s skills. State-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group developed the manufacturing know-how necessary to become a player in EVs thanks to joint ventures with Toyota and Honda, said Gregor Sebastian, an analyst at Germany’s Mercator Institute for China Studies.

Despite all that government support, sales of EVs remained weak until 2019, when China let Tesla open a wholly owned factory in Shanghai. “It took this catalyst…to boost interest and increase the level of competitiveness of the local Chinese makers,” said Tu Le, managing director of Sino Auto Insights, a research service specialising in the Chinese auto industry.

Back in 2011 Pony Ma, the founder of Tencent, explained what set Chinese capitalism apart from its American counterpart. “In America, when you bring an idea to market you usually have several months before competition pops up, allowing you to capture significant market share,” he said, according to Fast Company, a technology magazine. “In China, you can have hundreds of competitors within the first hours of going live. Ideas are not important in China—execution is.”

Thanks to that competition and focus on execution, the EV industry went from a niche industrial-policy project to a sprawling ecosystem of predominantly private companies. Much of this happened below the Western radar while China was cut off from the world because of Covid-19 restrictions.

When Western auto executives flew in for April’s Shanghai auto show, “they saw a sea of green plates, a sea of Chinese brands,” said Le, referring to the green license plates assigned to clean-energy vehicles in China. “They hear the sounds of the door closing, sit inside and look at the quality of the materials, the fabric or the plastic on the console, that’s the other holy s— moment—they’ve caught up to us.”

Manufacturers of gasoline cars are product-oriented, whereas EV manufacturers, like tech companies, are user-oriented, Le said. Chinese EVs feature at least two, often three, display screens, one suitable for watching movies from the back seat, multiple lidars (laser-based sensors) for driver assistance, and even a microphone for karaoke (quickly copied by Tesla). Meanwhile, Chinese suppliers such as CATL have gone from laggard to leader.

Chinese dominance of EVs isn’t preordained. The low barriers to entry exploited by Chinese brands also open the door to future non-Chinese competitors. Nor does China’s success in EVs necessarily translate to other sectors where industrial policy matters less and creativity, privacy and deeply woven technological capability—such as software, cloud computing and semiconductors—matter more.

Still, the threat to Western auto market share posed by Chinese EVs is one for which Western policy makers have no obvious answer. “You can shut off your own market and to a certain extent that will shield production for your domestic needs,” said Sebastian. “The question really is, what are you going to do for the global south, countries that are still very happily trading with China?”

Western companies themselves are likely to respond by deepening their presence in China—not to sell cars, but for proximity to the most sophisticated customers and suppliers. Jörg Wuttke, the past president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, calls China a “fitness centre.” Even as conditions there become steadily more difficult, Western multinationals “have to be there. It keeps you fit.”


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop