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The history of striped ties

The origins of striped ties

Neckties with diagonal stripes are by many considered the most classic necktie design - a design that never goes out of fashion. The main thing that is changing from one season to the next are the width of the stripes and the colors. Depending on how you define the term necktie, the tie that closely resembles the necktie today, had its origin in the 18th century. Initially neckties were white in color and served as distinction between class in France. Later on the British adopted the necktie. King Charles V was the first to introduce other necktie colors for formal events. The black necktie was born, although not very popular at the time.

Striped neckties also had its origin in Britain. The design originated in the 19th century when sports and British Country clubs started to differentiate one another through different colors - also called regiments. Initially those colors were proudly shown on the club’s flags, then later on on caps, jackets, and finally neckties. The striped necktie was born. The colors of each association’s regiments served as a base for regimental ties. This long tradition of regimental striped neckties is still continuing today, and regimental neckties have been popular ever since.

The popularity of striped ties grew further after WWI. British soldiers returning home from the war wanted to show that they had fought for their country and their devision with pride. They wore the regimental colors of their division on their neckties. Especially British rifle brigades were known for their diverse and unique regimental ties. It was considered very inappropriate in Great Britain to wear colors, or regimentals, one was not entitled to; the Americans selected their ties without such restrictions. Even in continental Europe the diagonal striped ties were purchased purely based on taste, whether it was considered to be a British club color or not. Thus, with such rapidly increasing demand in striped ties, silk weavers started to provide many more new color combinations in addition to the classic regimental striped ties.

At the same time as non-regimental striped ties gained popularity among the general public, the regimental ties were on a decline. In 1918 the British Royal Air Force was established by the merger of two brigades: The Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Service. As a result, there were now two competing regimental ties. Unable to decide on one particular design, and not wanting to give up the tradition of either one of the regiments, a crested tie (a tie with embroidered logos) was created. This new tie design carried on both traditions: It had regimental stripes of each brigade, and the new symbol of the Royal Air Force embroidered throughout the tie.

Embroidering logos and symbols onto the fine delicate silk wasn’t easy. The silk yarn was too fine and delicate, and the fine stitching of the embroidery would crinkle the fabric. After trial and error of different methods to create a crested necktie, a new technique was established. Instead of embroidering a symbol onto a finished silk tie, the symbol was woven directly into the silk fabric. This new weaving method, called Jacquared loom, was used for the first time in necktie manufacturing. Jacquard loom was invented in 1801 by Joseph Marie Jacquard, and was initially used for textile manufacturing with cotton and wool. Ties on the other hand were made from silk. With the adaptation of the Jacquard loom technique other fabric combinations for necktie manufacturing became also more popular. The popular Irish Poplin, a mix of wool and fine silk, became more popular. Until today, Irish Poplin is a well sought after material for neckties. Atkinsons ties made in Ireland, are one of the most well known tie manufacturers using this unique fabric.

Crested ties continued on for other military brigades. One of the most well know, and also most elaborate crested tie, or pectoral necktie, is the necktie for the Battle of Britain Association. The design of the tie consists of alternating rows of very intricately woven miniature maps of the British Isles, and the gilt Battle of Britain rosette. This indistinguishable tie is very likely the most coveted one in the world. It was only limited to those “Few men who freed the world and to whom the world owes its survival.”