Sometime ago I stumbled across Henry Carter Neckwear on Tumblr. It was interesting reading what Jason from Henry Carter had to say about Tumblr when we interviewed him, “Tumblr can be frustrating because you can see some awful look that has somehow gained traction and got 4000 notes, but then a really elegant photo might only get 10 notes.” I recall thinking the very same thing when I came across a perfectly tied double four-in-hand protruding proudly from a cutaway collar, why hasn’t this picture got more notes?! So I decided to get in touch with Jason and he sent us some ties for Derby weekend in Melbourne. Suffice to say they were even more impressive in the flesh, I’m quite astounded by them in fact. Here’s what Jason had to say.
1. What prompted you to begin Henry Carter Neckwear?
I’ve worked in the industry in one way or the other for about 15 years now, from starting out fitting MTM suits & trousers at Fletcher Jones when I was 18 to working for other well-known brands such as Ralph Lauren, Robby Ingham and Herringbone. I’d always wanted to do something out on my own and I’d just sold my first apartment and used part of the money from that to start it up. Of course I was thinking of the future as a motivation to start it as well and now being married with a 9 month old daughter, I have extra motivation for the business to do well.
2. Where are your ties made and how do you go about sourcing the silk?
All of our regular 3 and 7 fold ties are made in Naples, Italy by a small family owned company that have been handcrafting ties since 1968. The ties are completely made by hand to a very high standard. The son now runs the company so is open to trying new silk mills and the like and I am always pushing them to try different things such as the shantung silks I have in the works. They source all of the fabric mainly from Como and some from Macclesfield in England, however I’m often suggesting mills that I’ve come across that may weave hard to find fabrics. Our range of knit ties which we carry in silk and cashmere through winter are also made in Italy, by machine as all knit ties are.
3. Whilst value is a word that many associate with cheap, your ties are beautifully made and phenomenally priced which is an unbeatable combo – is this a reaction to the current tie market, are others overcharging for a similar product?
Yes and no I guess, I believe in charging a fair price for a good quality product and it’s no more complicated than that. It’s definitely frustrating from a consumer point to see 3 fold ties being sold for $150 and above because of the label sewn on and that was one of the reasons I started the company so there was a little bit of selfishness on my part too! I wanted to choose my own ties, made how I want them and hopefully other people would like them too.
4. What makes a high quality tie?
There’s a few key steps to a good tie. Firstly the fabric being of a high quality whether it silk, wool, cashmere, linen or whatever. Secondly, the lining should always be natural fibre, sometimes we use wool and sometimes linen depending on the fabric. Thirdly the construction and important details like the slip stitch, bar tack and general finishing. Lastly and just as importantly, it’s the thought from the makers point of view. I think winter ties should be a bit heavier and cosier, tipped with a wool lining. Summer ties like printed silks and linens etc are better made light and airy, un-tipped and lightly lined. I don’t believe completely un-lined ties are a good purchase as it compromises the knot and longevity of the tie through stretching.
5. How has tumblr influenced your business?
Tumblr and social media in general I’ve found better for brand building rather than sales building but as far as influence, I stay away from the #menswear trends as much as possible and just get on with my thing. Tumblr can be frustrating because you can see some awful look that has somehow gained traction and got 4000 notes, but then a really elegant photo might only get 10 notes. It’s certainly helped though for micro brands like myself with very small advertising budgets.
6. What’s your one tip for gents when they’re selecting a necktie to accompany a specific look?
No pastels on pastels! This is a hard one, but most guys that shop for events or weddings don’t end up with a balanced basic tie wardrobe, they end up with 10 different pink ties. My best advice is to make sure at the very least you have a plain navy grenadine or twill tie and keep things simple. I’m pretty conservative and generally try to stick to at least 1 or 2 plain patterns in the suit/shirt/tie/pocket square spectrum. Lastly work your ties around the other things you are wearing, it’s always a lot cheaper to have 15 ties that go with 3 suits than 7 ties that go with 7 suits!
Jason has just launched his new spring line and kindly offered a code to TVG readers so you can purchase one of his fine neck ties. Just head to http://henrycarter.com.au/ and use TVG10 at the checkout. I bought 5 last week!