Bow Tie Sales Strong While Overall Neckwear Sales Stagnate
Two days ago menswear trade publication MRketplace reported strong bow tie sales despite stagnate overall neckwear sales in the better and luxury end of the market. For instance, Brooks Brothers has a good bow tie business (5 percent to total). It is worth noting that knit ties are selling well, too.
So, why are bow ties faring better than the overall neckwear category?
MRketplace states that they’re doing well among younger and more fashion-forward customers. This cohort currently has some influences that tout how suave bow ties are. Some of these include:
- Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith
- Mad Men‘s popularity and its fashion focus
- Former American Football (aka “Gridiron”) player Dhani Jones
- Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson
- Metrosexuality’s — the American Dialect Society’s Word of 2003 — presence in the recent zeitgeist
- Although the New York Times speculated earlier this week that the metrosexual is retrenching, the fashion focus that the movement ushered in is still present.
Over the past several years the visibility of American men who are fashion forward has increased, and the social acceptance of this is growing — per the NYT article linked to above. Thus, not only is it more acceptable, but it is kind of expected that men in certain cohorts are fussy about their hair and grooming as well as invest in a bolder wardrobe.
Why don’t skinny ties that hearken back to the 1960s world of Mad Men or ones that have bolder or retro patterns and colors sell better? One thought that I have is that there aren’t as many men who wear bow ties as compared to those who wear the longer, traditional types of ties. Thus, it is easier to make a bold fashion statement using a bow tie — even if it has a conservative color palette and pattern — than longer neckwear.
One can argue that relying upon the neckwear type to stand out instead of donning vibrant colors and patterns is a form of laziness. However, I disagree. I see far more men wearing a pink or purple traditional tie in public than those wearing bow ties. Thus, due to the intimidating reputation assigned to bow ties (for better or for worse), it likely takes larger cojones to wear a different neckwear type than most other people than try bolder colors and patterns alone.
Having said that, it is important to increase the size of the bow tie fellowship, but the exclusivity of this fraternity certainly helps boost their power to make men stand out.