Bow ties the next knotty but nice business-wear trend
GET ready for the next business trend from America – bow ties. When Tyler Ray bought his first bow tie four years ago, he needed a YouTube tutorial to teach him how to knot it. Now he owns 35 bow ties and says he'll be wearing them for life.
"You are being noticed because you went the extra mile to wear that," said the 24-year-old merchandiser for a denim maker in San Francisco.
Young men like Ray are fuelling a surge in bow-tie sales. The accessories are on pace to almost double their share of the US neckwear market, and retailers including PVH and Macy's are grabbing the opportunity with new styles.
The ties' resurgence began in their traditional Southern enclave, where preppy gentlemen donned them at fraternity parties and the Kentucky Derby, before it spread across the country, said Durand Guion, Macy's men's fashion director.
Bow ties were helped by the recent "geek chic" trend that borrowed from the Ivy League styles of the 1960s, such as shrunken Oxford button-down shirts and horn-rimmed glasses, said Mitchell Lechner, boss of PVH's dress furnishings group.
A relaxation of the old rule of wearing bow ties only with tailored clothing helped, too. Men began using them to dress-up shirts and cardigans, discarding jackets. A bow tie paired with rolled-up shirt-sleeves evokes a certain kind of "bartender chic", Lechner said.
Bow ties will represent about 7pc of the $850m US neckwear market this year, up from 4pc last year, according to New York-based PVH projects.
In America's south-east, they account for about double the national share. PVH, owner of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, commands more than half of the US neckwear market.
Total menswear sales rose 2.7pc to $58.1bn in the 12 months through May, as tallied by market research firm NPD, helping boost clothing retailers as a whole. The Standard & Poor's 500 Retailing Index closed at a 63pc premium to the broader S&P 500 on a price-to-earnings basis this week.
Actors Jon Hamm and Max Minghella and boy band One Direction are among the celebrities snapped in the ties.
With simplicity in mind, more men are taking the shortcut of buying pre-tied ties, pushing their sales up to 40pc of PVH's total bow tie sales from 30pc a couple of years ago.
Bow ties come in bright colours, bolder polka dots and in-your-face variations of camouflage, animal prints and florals.
"I like a unique pattern," said David Brackenhoff (33), a bow tie-loving TV producer in Los Angeles. "If you are going to wear one, you might as well really wear it, right?"