Thursday, March 26, 2009

What Can I Say? I'm Homo for Quality Neckwear...

L-R (top): City of London, Steve Harvey, Jhane Barnes, AMC NY / (bottom) Ermengildo Zegna (2) and DKNY, who for some reason felt compelled to write their fucking name all over the tie...

A few of the best from the personal collection: L-R, Paolo Davide, Claiborne, Van Heusen, two Geoffrey Beenes, Perry Ellis Portfolio, vintage, Nautica, vintage and Stafford Executive

So I've decided that, since I am far too old to take pride in having the best toy in the neighborhood, I will settle for having the best tie in the room. It's actually gotten to the point of obsession now. During my vacation, while I was volunteering at Pittcon 2009 in Chicago, I spent most of my downtime during the day looking up brand after brand of Italian tie, since I'm looking at adding a couple nice ones to the collection.

I should back up a bit.

When I started working in an office job that required a tie day-t0-day, my boy Adam and I, at various times, complimented each other on having cool ties. I had gone out prior to starting and bought a few decent-looking-but-admittedly-average ties. That, in addition to raiding my dad's tie closet - with his permission - to get a little variety.

Anyway, Adam's dad goes through ties like I go through Lemonade Crystal Light, so he had some real nice hand-me-downs, particularly some hot-shit Van Heusen ties. And it got to be kind of a competition for a little while about who could find the best tie. We even cleaned out the best ties from a vintage clothing shop around the way because they had some that were just too good to pass up, especially for $2.79 apiece (the second and fourth ties from the right were both from that store, and they look brand-new, right down to retaining their original sheen [never been dry-cleaned, which takes some of the shine off and gives them kind of a rumpled look that never goes away]).

Now me? I'm a stripes man. Bold, subtle, thick, thin - a good stripe pattern that catches the sun and just BLA-DOW!'s right in your face. Van Heusen is really a great, affordable brand ($20-$30)that you can find a lot of places. I probably have more Van Heusens than anything else. That, Geoffrey Beene and Claiborne are good, reliable brands where you can find some variety in colors and patterns.

If you wanna step it up a little more, AMC NY and BCBG, Paul Malone and even this Asian designer you see a lot on eBay, Deng Ying, make really nice, $25-$40 ties in a lot of different styles. Some of the Deng Ying ties take a familiar style and put a neat little spin on it. And if you can find them on sale, Steve Harvey ties (yeah, the comedian) have a lot of pop and intricacy to them. He has a line of suits, too, but they tread the fine line between high fashion and almost-a-zoot-suit.

But now I'm at the point where I think I might be willing to toss down $50, maybe even as much as $70 for a really great tie by a name designer: Altea, Barba, Missoni, Kenzo, Ermengildo Zegna, something like that. But one thing I began to notice as I was looking at tie after tie after tie on this one site, Raffaello Network (click on a brand to see an example of each tie): the more expensive they get, the uglier the designs start to be.

From designers like DKNY and Moschino, who feel a compulsive need to sew their names all over the front of the fucking tie, to Fornasetti designs, which have a giant gothic-headed sunflower running all the way up to the knot, a lot of them are just plain foul.

There are a few, though, that are really top-notch, and still reasonable. Laura Biagiotti designs run about $50 apiece, and you can tell the craftsmanship is excellent. Same for a Prochownick, which goes for about $60.

My problem with a lot of the top designers, though, is that so many of their ties are pattern-based rather than stripe-based. They're little tiny repeating houndstooths, or small dot patterns, which from a distance make your tie look like a carpet. Too intricate.

**TIMEOUT... I just realized that all this attention to detail has me sounding either a) kinda gay, or b) very American Psycho, which, coincidentally, I just finished reading on the plane to Pittcon... so maybe I started looking up all these designer ties because every other paragraph in that book is Patrick Bateman describing people's fashion head-to-toe. So just to be clear, I don't carve up women in my spare time... GAME ON***

And now that I'm investing in quality neckwear, I've also gotten hung up on learning as many different tie knots as I can... as well as perfecting "the pinch"... more on that later...

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