This week we kick off our Friends Friday series, which is meant to be a source of inspiration for couples getting married, as well as a window into the work of some of the wedding industry’s best professionals: why they do what they do, what drives their work, how couples can best work with them to achieve unique results, and much more. This series will feature photographers with unconventional styles, convention-shattering milliners, bridal shops that cater to the individual not the masses, planners with resolutely contemporary tastes, and much more.
But first, to kick off Friends Fridays, we sit down with Justin from TYTAN ties to talk about custom-made menswear accessories.
OHF: First things first: so how did you get into making accessories for men? Why ties, bow ties and pocket squares specifically?
Justin: I started off working in the wedding industry as a hairstylist for brides. During our consultations, many of them would ask me if I knew where they could find a nice tie for their groom-to-be and most of the time I would direct them to one of the big department stores or a few other popular menswear stores like Mexx (R.I.P) because that’s where I would get mine. Keep in mind, back then, matching solid ties were ‘in’ so it’s not like many were looking for something that particular; maybe stripes at most. The thought of anything else was pretty foreign. And then a few years ago, there was a shift in menswear and accessories: suits and ties were beginning to get slimmer, bow ties were making a comeback, and grooms were starting to get more involved in wedding planning. With so many options available for brides and bridesmaids, I started TYTAN because I could see that guys were starting to go the custom route and wanted something unique for themselves as well. We wanted to break away from this idea that a groom is just an accessory to the bride on the big day.
OHF: What are your thoughts on the relatively recent rise in attention given to menswear and menswear accessories? I mean, it seems to me we've never given as much thought to how men dress, especially grooms on wedding days…
J: To put it simply, guys do care about what they look like. Especially for such a big event in front of all their family and friends, Groom’s want to look and feel good. Wearing the right suit and [bow] tie makes you stand a little taller and walk with a little more swag. I hear it all the time, “I feel like James Bond today!”
What makes a wedding unique are the details, and that goes for choosing the right attire as well. As I said before, grooms want to be more involved (for the most part), and selecting what they wear is one of the few decisions that is fully theirs. They are beginning to see and becoming more aware of their options. With pretty much everyone on social media these days, finding ideas and options is easy, and even though it is overwhelming at times, it can be a great starting point to see what you like and don’t like. Whether you decide to go bespoke or buy off-the-rack, there are many affordable suit and tux options that come with a variety of styles, fabrics and colors to fit every body type. In some cases, grooms are opting out of a full suit altogether. Some current trends I have noticed this past year include wider and different colored lapels, suspenders, colorful and funky socks and of course, bow ties! I also like that Groom’s are wearing a different color suit from the Groomsmen and choosing bolder colors like electric/cobalt blue, as well as exploring dinner jackets with black tux pants. If you’re afraid of stepping outside the box too much, don’t worry, you can always try a navy or midnight blue suit instead of the traditional black. Many of our own clients have expressed their frustration of seeing the same things over and over again at every store, so they like the idea of being able to design a [bow] tie that reflects their taste more specifically. You’d be surprised at some of the fabrics our grooms have chosen! I believe most guys are visual learners, so when you are able to help them visualize the entire look, they are able to make better - and often surprising! - decisions.
OHF: Tell me about customization, and the idea of men wearing one-of-a kind, tailored pieces on their wedding day.
J: No two clients are exactly the same, so we treat each design the same way. We have what we call The ABC’s of Style. Most grooms we work with fall into a style type: A-adventurous, B-Bond, or C-classic. We use that as a starting point to select textiles that we feel fit their personal style. For someone who is adventurous, we may choose more vibrant colors and prints, whereas a Bond [James Bond] might want something more plush and luxurious feeling. The great thing about our designs is that they can be made reversible, which means that you can choose a style type that speaks to who you are, but also another one of who you may want to be for the day. It adds adds an element of fun and surprise, giving you the option to switch it up from day to night, GQ gentleman to party animal! Although to some a tie or bow tie is a minor detail to the overall scheme of things, it’s those details that count. When you’re standing front and centre saying your vows, so is your [bow] tie. So make it count!
OHF: So, for any grooms to be out there that are indeed looking for custom pieces, can you explain the process of creating the pieces? How do you go from a groom reaching out with an idea, all the way to having the pieces delivered in time for the big day?
J: We want to make the process as simple as possible. After an initial consultation where we have established their style type and color palette, we head out to find textiles that fit within their vision. We then put together an inspiration board that we send via email with swatches for them to choose from. They select the ones they like most and we meet up once more for them to see it in person. Once they have decided, it goes into production! Fabric selection is what typically takes the longest, which we allot about 3-4 weeks for, as there are a number of stores we visit; it also gives our groom some time to actually think about what he wants. The production itself can happen as quickly as 2 weeks (depending on the number of [bow] ties being made and if there are any special requests like embroidery). April to September are high season months, so we highly encourage grooms to book at least 3 months in advance to ensure not only timely delivery, but also confidence in their choice. Each [bow] tie is boxed with a personalized card with their name and message just to add that extra special touch.
OHF: And to finish: tie or bow tie?
J: That’s like asking me to choose between rice or pasta! They’re both good for different reasons. BUT, if I had to choose one, I am going to have to go with bow tie. I’ve been a tie guy for pretty much all my life, but there’s something about a bow tie that’s so classic. Plus, you can get away with more crazy prints because it’s on such a smaller scale!