A lot has been said about the basic tie wardrobe. It is very tempting to buy the stand out colorful crazy print when starting to build the tie wardrobe. A few of those are great as accents in a collection. But because they are so memorable, I find that I don’t wear them as often and really only a few times each year. It is a sign when people say, “I remember that tie!”
The men who are consistently the best dressed build their collection on ties of high quality and simple patterns. These ties will complement shirts and suits of different patterns, textures, and shades. Avoiding the problem of having one tie to go with one suit and shirt combination. It will help put together a varied wardrobe where people will notice that you are always well dressed without necessarily paying attention to a stand out piece.
The top row above starts with solids in navy, purple, silver, green, and burgundy. It is no secret that I like solid ties. I have them in silk repp, grenadine, and silk moire. They go with everything and are the most versatile. Don’t pass up solids because they look simple. They will tie patterned shirts and suits together like no other piece.
After that are stripes in grey, navy and green with a red and blue block stripe. If you have solids taken care of, stripes in these colors are a good way to expand the collection. It can be a subtle way to express yourself with school, club, or society affiliations.
Pin dots are next in navy and burgundy. The yellow is thrown in for fun and was a special request for a client. It is subdued in person with a pale yellow. Pin dot’s versatility is second only to solids and will be a go to piece in the collection.
Everyone needs a black satin bow tie. Enough said about that. Start out with these basic pieces and look good everyday.
One of the most under-appreciated details on a necktie is the bar tack. I’ve had neckties that I’ve paid a hefty sum for that lacked a decent bar tack and came undone after a few wears, which is a moment of disappointment when you think back to how much the tie cost. It’s a tiny detail, unnoticed by so many – wearers and manufacturers alike – but I happen to enjoy the tactile feel of a well-sewn one.
Louis Walton’s bar tacks are impressive, as you can see above. I consider it on par with those found on Vanda Fine Clothing’s and Panta Clothing’s neckties. It’s better than the bar tacks found on Drake’s London and Polo Ralph Lauren, in my opinion. It’s the first thing I noticed when I received a review necktie, handmade by owner Gregory Walton (he named the company after his father) in San Francisco.
“I started making ties because I realized the things I liked were very expensive and I felt that with practice I could make something just as nice as the things in the shops I liked,” Gregory said. “In my family it has been a practice to learn to make the things or do the services we like.”
Gregory’s been sewing neckties since 2008 and initially gave them away as gifts until a friend asked him to design a line of ties and pocket squares for his shop.
The tie Gregory sent me is this navy Japanese cotton with white flowers in a six-fold design. The tie is lightly lined and untipped, two details I particularly enjoy. It also features a hand-sewn slip-stitch to allow the tie to recover after being worn.
I asked Gregory about some of the technical challenges of learning how to sew ties by hand, and unsurprisingly he said it’s not easy. One of his mentors taught him how to make patterns for shirts and trousers, which helped him develop his own patterns for neckties.
“There is still a measure of trial and error involved because I make each tie with the client in mind,” Gregory said. “Therefore, the shape and length of each tie is different depending on the size and preferences of the client. I am constantly learning and trying different things.”
Another challenge is sourcing fabric and thread, because they’re not available at just any fabric store, often needing to be sourced from mills directly. Finding good fabric is extremely important to him because it affects how the tie drapes and knots.
While the design and pattern of the fabric is originally what caught my eye (I’m always a sucker for navy ties), the light cotton actually goes nicely with a variety of summer and warm-weather jackets and the “neat” flower pattern gives just enough visual variety to break up an ensemble of solids. I liked it in particular against a light blue linen shirt and a white linen-cotton jacket.
If you’ve been following the Louis Walton tumblr, you’ll notice that Gregory’s also been expanding his skillset into leather goods, including belts and keyholders. If you took a look, you’ll see they look damn impressive.
“I am very excited to be branching into leather work and find it o be very rewarding,” Gregory said. “I am starting with small pieces like keyholders and wallets, and I hope to offer larger items like briefcases and bags for men next year. I do everything by hand and it leads to pieces that are very strong and structured, while still being soft and pliable."
Gregory also mentioned he’s working on outerwear pieces with a local tailor to be offered as made-to-measure items.
It should also be noted that Gregory’s training under Beatrice Amblard of April In Paris fame. For those who don’t know, Amblard is a former Hermes artisan that now has her own label designing custom leather accessories in San Francisco.
Greg handmakes his ties at his home in San Francisco. I called him up and asked if he could do something with some remnant fresco, he said sure, and then had an idea for the selvedge - a discreet homage to the fabric, visible only to the wearer.
I have enjoyed making leather goods for the last three years. It started with a canvas and leather messenger bag made on a machine and developed into completely hand made wallets like the ones above.
There is no substitute for time and concentrated effort when it comes to leather. A mistake is easily fixed with a seem ripper or razor blade when working with fabric. But one mistake in leather means scrapping the one part you are working on in the best case or starting the entire piece over in the worst case. Every hole that is punched and cut that is made must be both precise and accurate.
Great attention is paid to details by lining each piece with leather and finishing all raw edges to produce a finished look. This approach is so time intensive that the four pocket card holder in the top row above takes about six hours from the time the leather is cut to completion. Of the six hours, edge finishing alone takes 90 minutes. No time is spared as each piece is cut by hand with a sharp blade and every stitching mark is carefully punched before stitching.
To start, the focus of the leather program will be thin practical card holders that will not break the lines of tailored clothing. Eventually document holders, notebook covers, and portfolios will be available for order.
Stock is limited because of the time it takes to make each piece. Starting November 4, leather items will be available for purchase at LouisWalton.com. There will also be a small offering of wallets in Wingtip’s bespoke basement if you would like to pick one up or meet with me to design a custom item.