For a while, I’ve been featuring items from The Knottery here on the blog. Their goal of providing affordable menswear accessories is laudable. I placed an order with them a while back and wanted to give a review to put to end some of the questions I’ve received about them.
I’ve seen the question asked quite frequently — with skepticism — about the quality of The Knottery’s silk knit neckties, which are made in China. There’s some obvious hesitation from some — even at the affordable pricetag — about if these stack up to more expensive silk knits made in either Italy or England.
Let’s just skip to the point: The Knottery has the best value when it comes to silk knit ties.
Ranging for $25 to $30, these ties stack up to the quality of silk knits that cost up to three times as much. In fact, they’re so so good, I can’t tell their quality or construction apart from some I have that were manufactured in England.
I picked up the breton stripe inspired tie, The Port, and I’m extremely pleased with it.
How do I know this? I own two silk knit ties from J.Press: one is a solid silk knit in navy, another is a navy and red striped tie on an ecru ground. Both are made in England and sold for about $90 at retail. The striped tie is different in construction than the solid tie. I have no idea if they’re both manufactured in the same place or not, but the striped one has a slightly more “open” weave, whereas the solid one has is more “dense” and less see-through.
The Knottery’s silk knit is more like the striped J.Press silk knit. The weave is somewhat open and when you examine the knits up close, you’d swear they were made by the same machine.
Look below. If I didn’t tell you which tie was made in England and which one was made in China, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Even by feeling them you can’t tell the difference. Both are soft to the touch and the fibers feel the same. Both of the back seams are the same stitching them together. Both of the neck bands are the same.
(J.Press is on the left, The Knottery on the right.)
Below, I’ve compared The Knottery (center) with a silk knit from Lands’ End (left, made in Italy) and my solid-navy J.Press (right, England). You’ll notice the knit weave is more open from Lands’ End and the Italian tie is a bit more “crunchy” and rougher in texture. It’s a significantly different weave pattern and construction.
The J.Press solid silk knit is similar in softness (but not the same), but the knits are closer together and it’s virtually opaque in comparison to The Knottery’s weave. The seam stitching the tie together is different, too.
While these solid knits are obviously different than The Knottery’s attributes, I think The Knottery can easily say their silk knit doesn’t suffer in quality in any way and especially isn’t inferior. If anything, The Knottery’s supplier in China is able to match the quality of a silk knit tie from England at a third of the retail price.
Bottom line: The Knottery’s silk knit ties are a steal.
I also picked up a pocket square from The Knottery. I won’t give you some sort of song and dance about a pocket square, but it’s pretty much what I expected. I liked the semi-minimal design on an off-white ground.
For $12, I’m satisfied to add another pocket square to my collection that goes with my blue-heavy theme. Are there cheaper pocket squares out there? Sure. Are there more expensive ones? Sure. But I was more about getting this pattern than what the price was.
I also picked up a pair of shoelaces from The Knottery. The ones that I’d been using on a pair of chocolate suede Allen Edmonds I picked up on eBay had gotten toward the end of their life.
While The Knottery offers a great deal of colorful options, I went with their “Vanilla Creme” option. Personally, there’s something a bit too dandy for me about super-bright laces in other colors, but I liked the way the white laces offset the darker brown. Plus, the concept of “vanilla and chocolate” seemed to amuse me.
For kicks, I thought I’d put together a simple summer look with all these elements. White OCBD, white denim, blue unconstructed cotton sportcoat, plus a chocolate suede belt from The Knottery as well (reviewed previously here). You can never go wrong with blue, brown and white.
While a lot of people use accessories that draw attention to themselves (insert “pop of color” joke here) that nukes the cohesiveness of outfit they’re wearing, I’m beginning to prefer accessories that help solidify a color palette.
A year or two ago, I might’ve gone for adding more patterns or colors. Now, I find myself subtracting colors from my wardrobe. I’m becoming a greater fan of solids and minimally adding stripes or polka dots in neckwear. And while I love my collection of beautiful printed silk squares, I often reach for a TV-folded linen.
So, my recent purchases from The Knottery reflect the current direction my style is moving toward: matching a theme of playful simplicity in my own color story.
I’ve been admiring the neckties in recent months coming out from Vanda Fine Clothing, but the pricepoint always made me hesitate and hold off. While I don’t necessarily mind paying for high-quality, hand-crafted neckwear from a small business, the product I buy has to be an absolute “must-have” for me that I feel is completely unavailable elsewhere.
Enter Vanda’s untipped, unlined, 6-fold garza fina navy grenadine necktie, first seen at La Casuarina, who received two prototypes from Vanda. I was immediately reminded of La Casuarina’s vintage Hermes 7-fold garza fina grenadine and how much I wished I could find a similar necktie.
Given my addiction for navy neckties and the irresistibility of a multi-fold grenadine, I quickly shot off an email to Vanda, asking if they would take a pre-order for a similar necktie. Gerald was kind enough to write me back and let me know that it was still in prototype stages, but could still be purchased. He even offered to let me send it back for a lining if I felt the unlined construction didn’t work.
I placed an order and waited. And it was completely worth the wait and price.
The most obvious first thing you notice is how sheer the necktie is without a lining or tipping. It feels lighter than a silk pocket square or linen shirt, yet the texture feels actually durable despite the very open weave.
The 6-fold construction actually gives the tie some much needed heft and thickness when you tie it. It cinches up well and drapes nicely in an arch around the knot. You don’t really have to try to tie a good knot — it’s almost if it naturally forms itself.
But the real amazing stuff is found in the details. You can’t help but love the hand-rolled edges and the sewing at the tip. It’s all exposed and you almost can’t believe it’s done by hand. The meticulousness of the stitching is astounding when you examine it up close and feel the edges with your hand.
What I really love though about the necktie though is how it’s reduced to its bare-bones. No blade keeper. No labels. Just an absolutely well-crafted piece of neckwear.
How does this necktie stack up to others I own? Frankly, it doesn’t — because I own no other neckties like this one and it sits alone as a unique piece in my collection that I’m glad to have and wear.
Today, Gilt City has a deal for Shrine Haberdashers for custom-made bowties and neckties for $48 and $65 respectively.
The deal page doesn’t give much detail on the bowties and neckties themselves, so I e-mailed Shrine and received some more information.
There are 36 different colors and patterns to choose from, all silk, and you can choose from various widths, too. Their bowties have a unique feature where the neck-adjustment is secured with a mother-of-pearl button rather than a piece of metal.
Their neckwear is handmade in the United States by a company out west, which individually cuts, sews and presses each tie. This same company is a supplier to several hundred men’s stores nationwide and also makes ties for well-known national retailers like Saks, Barney’s and Nieman Marcus.
Overall, this seems like a pretty good deal. Shrine has been offering this custom-made service for quite some time — typically for wedding parties — at the price of $75 for a bowtie and $100 for a necktie, so the Gilt City deal knocks off about 35% of the price.
While it’d certainly be easiest for those of you in Chicago to redeem this offer in-store at their shop, the folks at Shrine assured me that they would work with any customer who bought this offer via e-mail, phone and even Skype if you’re from outside the Windy City. And, for what it’s worth, the times I’ve stopped in to check their stuff out, they’ve been friendly and helpful.