-By Michael Macko, Details Fashion Director
A story on the front page of the June 4 edition of the Wall Street Journal sounded the death knell of the necktie in America. The article focused on the hard times for the American Dress Furnishings Association, a trade group that represents American tie makers, whose membership dropped from 120 during its 1980s, power-tie heyday to just 25 at present. The story cited a recent Gallup poll, which found that the number of men in the United States who reported wearing ties to work every day reached a record low of 6 percent last year, down from 10 percent in 2002.
Ties, from left: Z Zegna, Alexander Olch. John Varvatos, Prada. Tie bars, from left: Paul Stuart, Dolce & Gabbana. (Photo by Michael Macko)
But the truth is—as many fashion insiders have noted—rumors of the necktie's demise have been greatly exaggerated. "Ties are absolutely not dead to the fashionable younger guy, who doesn't have to wear one," says wunderkind tie designer Alexander Olch. Men in their twenties and thirties don't need to wear a knot with wing tips and a suit for meetings—they choose to put one on, more likely with jeans and a cardigan.
Photo courtesy of Michael Macko
One key component to this casual necktie look is the tie bar. Before its 21st-century renaissance, the accessory-to-the-accessory found fans among the likes of Fred Astaire and Frank Sinatra.
Tie by Dolce & Gabanna. Tie bar by Thom Browne. (Photo by Michael Macko)
And while this add-on is hardly new to the modern stylish guy, cool designers like Thom Browne and Dolce & Gabbana are now retrofitting it to go with the super-skinny ties that were still all over the fall runways (another death prematurely reported). Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana—who have a tie that comes in at less than 1.5 inches wide—have shrunk the classic tie bar proportionately. Browne created one that, at one inch, is the smallest of the lot, and he did so out of personal necessity. "My ties are narrower than most," he says. That's no small feat.