Bow ties aren’t just for stuffy black tie suits, and they don’t have to be “boring,” in the words of PINO, a bow tie and men’s accessories company.
In fact, bow ties can come in a thrilling spectrum of colors and patterns. Zesty yellows, tangerine oranges, royal purples. Golden bulls, prairie florals, plaid. And like a fancy piece of jewelry, they come in their own little box, sometimes even stamped with a red wax seal.
Contemporary bow ties are the main products of three new-ish indie Portland companies. PINO, Bowyer & Fletcher and Harding and Wilson all launched within the last two years to handcraft artisan neckwear, including custom-made pieces for weddings and other special events. Part woodsman, part dapper gentleman – less flamboyant Chuck Bass – their bespoke bow ties can be dressed down from formal attire, and add just a pop of dandy to everyday wear.
PINO’s candy-colored bow ties make the splashiest statement. Creative director Crispin Argento believes life is too short to wear boring clothes, and his collection reflects his bold personality. Not a shy man, Argento’s eclectic sense of humor shows through in the saturated colors of his bow ties, neckties, matching pocket squares, and rounds.
The solid key lime green and emerald green bow ties catch your eye, like loud exclamation points. They’re all handmade in his studio, cut from raw silks, sewn and ironed to neat proportions. PINO also recently collaborated with the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art to design a geometric triangle print.
But once it’s out of the box and in your fumbling hands, how in the world do you tie a bow tie? A fellow with an English accent at Bowyer & Fletcher will gladly teach you. Learning the twists and loops won’t be difficult, if you’ve ever tied a regular necktie on yourself or on your date.
Bowyer & Fletcher’s aesthetic offers a playful take on elegance in a range of fabrics, from Japanese cottons to American wools. Bow ties feature abstract geometric shapes, light blue polka dots, and gray houndstooth patterns. A red seal marks the box with a promise that the bow tie has been made with integrity.
Harding and Wilson offers more classic bow ties, such as the understated plaids and muted red stripes specially designed for Derby Day. The bow tie outfitter hopes to leave a legacy in the Pacific Northwest, by specially sourcing heavier Pendleton wools for bow ties in soft beige patterns and concrete grays. For the spring and summer line, the company lightened the look with baby floral prints and little arrows against a blue background. It’s a brand much more steeped in turn-of-the-century tradition.
Bow ties aren’t for everyone, and it might take a certain type of gentleman to pull off a bow tie on a regular day. Whoever he is, he certainly won’t be boring. And he, just might happen to be a she– if she’s bold enough.