Designing ties is a joy. This is partly because you have the opportunity to inject real vibrancy and exuberance into an eventual outfit that, though far from boring, will often be constructed with understatement in mind. While navies and greys predominate suit fabrics, and even shirts are designed with a comparatively limited palette in mind, ties offer a much wider remit for expression in terms of colour. This makes sense: ties have always been the point in a formal outfit in which the most idiosyncratic statements can be made.
It’s a bit surprising then that another reason why designing ties is so fun is that, over time, the brand has developed its own rules – its own language – and to work within these (largely implicit) rules, and to push their boundaries, brings with it the kind of satisfaction you find in working within and at the edges of any rule-bound medium.
So what are the constraints? It’s not initially obvious that there would be any, but the more you work in a particular area of product design, the more you realise what’s in keeping with the overall aesthetic of the brand, and what isn’t. To start with, when designing woven ties we always work with heavy silk for a richer drape, and with high picks-per-inch – which can be thought of as high resolution: this gives you a crisper, sharper, more resilient finish. If you’re working with these two principles in mind, you want designs that are going to take the maximum advantage of the attributes that are already “built-in”, as it were.
For us, this means that texture is key. We love to combine textural features within a pattern to create a really visceral sense of density. You can get a sense of this from looking at our range of stripes: smooth, fluid satin is matched with gravelly granularity in the Natte Stripes; long-form twills are matched with short, reversing twills in the Herringbone Stripes; silky, satin hairlines are combined with oversized herringbone effects and expansive twill grounds in the striking Quiver Stripes.
We also like to create really strong little characters from colour combinations. In any area of design, as soon as you have two-to-three colours working together you find you get a really original sense of personality that’s somehow a lot more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes the combinations that work best are actually a surprise to us: although we have definite combinations in mind at the point of design, the process involves the weaving of “blankets”, which are a kind of patchwork matrix of different warp and weft colour combinations; this occasionally throws up new designs that leap out of the psychedelia of the overall mass and just demand to be made into ties.
You also find that scale’s incredibly important: tweaking the scale of a pattern feature can make the difference between something that’s just wrong, and something that has that amazingly satisfying “Goldilocks” quality: not too big, not too small. You get a similar experience when working with spacing. Our Floral Madders are a great example: in being arranged quite closely together, the geometric-floral motifs become more textural than graphic; this design really draws on the advantages of working with high-density weaving, as well as starkly contrasting colour combinations – the resulting effect is something almost three dimensional: a texture that really “pops out”. Apologies if I get carried away with this stuff: when it’s what you love doing it’s hard to stop!
Some of the particular favourites of the design team are those that are doing really interesting things with colour: the Teal Sakura, with its unusual ground and the fresh white and zinging interior of its repeated motif; the Mauve & Pink Herringbone Stripe, with its bruised, dusky character; and the Purple Carnation, which just seems to burst with fruity richness. Having said that, one of my (current) favourites is actually one of the most unassuming: the Navy Hopsack, which lets texture do all the work – combining a shimmering quality with a fluidity of drape. Match it with a crisp white shirt for a simple but effective combination.
I hope you’ll enjoy the new range! As always, we’d love to hear from you: write to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know which are your particular favourites.
All the best,