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The necktie, knot what it used to be, still hangs on(3)

Font Size:big - mid - smallejinfatie   Release time 08-08-22 11:41     view:1353   coomment:0   source:

The necktie, knot what it used to be, still hangs on

By the 1960s, 600 companies made ties in the U.S., mostly smaller, regional manufacturers. They banded together in a professional association that lobbied on their behalf.

Those days are long past.

"The number you have dialed is not in service at this time," a recording greeted callers to the New York offices of the Dress Furnishings Association this week. "Please check the area code and number and dial your call again."

Don’t bother.

Today there are only about two dozen companies making ties in the U.S., and the business is dominated by huge firms. Many of the ties American men wear are made overseas. It didn’t seem to make any sense to keep running an association built for an industry so fundamentally different from what it used to be, says Terrill, the neckwear business executive and a member of the association’s board.

"We didn’t think anybody would notice," he says, of the decision to close.

Instead, the association’s closure has been greeted as confirmation that the tie is done.

The suggestion alarms Terrill, who says that sales have steadied and ties are poised to make a modest comeback.

There are still a few islands of tie-wearers. Lawyers and folks in finance and insurance work in offices where suits and tie remain the badges of professionalism.

"When you wear a tie it still says ... you’re dressed for the occasion," says Amy Klaris, a retail strategist at consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates.

Today, with the economy softening, men need to market themselves and a big part of that is the way they dress. That will send the pendulum swinging, albeit subtly, back to the suit and tie, Terrill says.

In the past 10 or 15 years, as dress codes loosened, men who’d always worn ties "were making a statement. I’m not going to wear a tie because I don’t have to wear a tie," Terrill says. "But now so many people don’t wear a tie, that it’s a statement to wear one."

That sounds like wishful thinking to Corlett, the consultant. She agrees that sales of ties have leveled off, but a comeback is unlikely.

"I think it’s about as untrue as women returning to hosiery. Once you free the body of the tie and the hose, yeah, you may go back to it occasionally to make a statement or on dress-up day, but nobody willingly goes back to wearing a tie five days a week," she says.

For those waiting to see if men will once again embrace the constriction that comes with ties, she suggests looking to examples in women’s fashion.

"You know," she says, "corsets never came back."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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