I must admit, I’m not really into modern ties.
I watch movies set in the current day and physically cringe at the fish-skin-shine concoctions that represent what tie and costume designers consider ‘taste’ and ‘fashion’ in the year 2014.
Firstly, it’s satin-silk. Everywhere. Notorious for its reflective capabilities – doubling up as a vanity mirror – it cheapens any ensemble.
Secondly, the patterns leave a lot to be desired. Particularly the stripes, which have more variations in colours and widths than a 1970s living room.
The amazing fact is these ties are rarely as cheap as they look. So-called ‘designer’ ties can cost more than a pair of trousers or a waistcoat, their only validation for such an expense being “It’s Dior, so…”
Now, anyone of suitable tie intelligence will tell you that it is actually hard to make a proper tie very cheaply. The kind of dross they churn out at bargain basement tie-discounters will be scoffed at as utterly inferior. Firstly, the quality of the silk will be seriously questioned. Secondly, the way the tie is constructed will be scrutinized – and will be found wanting.
In much the same way that suit snobs go on about hand-stitching, horse-hair and floating canvasses, tie snobs focus on ‘folds’; the simple point being that more is generally better.
Most ties are folded three to six times and have a wool or faux wool interlining in order for the tie to keep its structure and not flap about in the wind like a toddler’s hair ribbon.
Special ties are those folded seven or more times, where sometimes – depending on the weight of the fabric – no interlining is used. Essentially, more of the tie fabric has been used and is simply folded in on itself seven times to form its own structure.
It also takes more artisanal skill to fold a tie seven times or more, which is the main reason it has cache. In much the same way that hand-stitching has cache over machine stitching, largely because of the fact it requires human sweat and toil. The real question with this folding, as with the stitching, is whether this skill actually adds anything of actual value.
I recently received a tie from Pheobes & Dee, a new brand of Italian hand-made neckwear that focuses on seven fold and knitted ties.
Now, I have to admit, I don’t have much of a fetish for gazillion folded ties. I really don’t mind having a cheaper lining used. I also don’t mind if it’s only been folded three times. I have ties from Tie Rack that have been folded and lined in the same way as ties from Savile Row tailors, and so I never really developed the ‘seven-fold itch.’
However, in much the same way that Rolls-Royce owners never use the umbrellas in the suicide doors or that guests of Four Seasons hotels never use ‘complimentary shuttle buses’, it’s actually jolly nice to know it’s there.
The tie, named ‘The Carrick’, is a beautiful burgundy colour with a white pin-dot pattern and an interlining. When I first opened it I couldn’t quite believe how heavy and thick the thing was. Most ties in my collection flutter in the first gust of wind and feel almost feather-like. This tie has a robustness that reminded me of weighty, damask curtains in grand Paris hotels, as though it would embarrass my suits with it’s, ahem, unflappability.
The reality is, it does. And this is no bad thing. The last seven-fold tie I received was a beautiful thing – but give it a strong breeze by the River Thames and it bobbed about like a windsock. This tie feels elegant, and is comfortable to wear, but it barely moves.
Retailing at $140, it is certainly not a cheap option – but then it hasn’t been made cheaply.