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The Neck’s Big Thing

Vendors are getting their first samples and strike-offs from overseas, and already there are notable trends taking shape for next spring's neckwear

Vendors are getting their first samples and strike-offs from overseas, and already there are notable trends taking shape for next spring’s neckwear. Paisleys are begetting botanicals; texture will continue to triumph; and patterns—taking a cue from the handbag and youth markets—are getting splattered all over, with boutique tie makers to licensing powerhouses investing in the trend.

Randa, which produces ties for Trafalgar, Izod and Geoffrey Beene, barely offered any printed ties in its lineup for the past few years, but that’s going to change. Come spring 2008, prints—in geometric, retro and allover patterns—will make up 10 percent of the lines. “They’re going to be flat, with little shading,” says senior vice-president of merchandising John Kammeier. “We feel better about prints because we’ve been working on the processing. Prints can feel dry.”

Small players, like newcomer Bird Dog Bay, will evoke the traditional Hermès equestrian chain link in its allover-print ties. The company, which was launched by Steve Mayer in January of last year, has up to now gravitated toward animal-motif novelty ties.

“I’ve also really been influenced by M.C. Escher,” says the former Lee Allison designer of the Dutch graphic artist whose work played with repeated forms and impossible architectures. “I want to try my hand at continuous prints.”

Seaward & Stearn, another relative newcomer represented in the U.S. by The British Apparel Collection, is also looking to Hermès’ iconic patterns for its spring line. Expect to see chain link and bridle bit laced across its neckwear. Simon Mendez, president of British Apparel, which also represents Pantherella, says its print business will outpace wovens next year. “There’s been much more interest for prints in the market lately.”

If an exception ever proved a rule, Vineyard Vines, known for its beachy novelty prints, is introducing wovens this fall and will expand the collection next spring. “We think we can hit another customer [with wovens],” says cofounder and CEO Ian Murray.

The Connecticut-based casual lifestyle company will also play up another of next spring’s trends: texture. It will be showing its growing line of wovens on a seersucker jacquard. “It’s the preppiest thing you’ve seen in your life,” says Murray.

Another holdover in the textured realm is stripes. While fashion editors have been ringing their death knell for years, Lou Bonnanzio, vice-president of sales for Pull and Co., which represents the Altea brand, says stripes have continued to sell well as long as they mix color and pattern. The Italy-based neckwear company, which retails in better specialty stores, is bucking another spring trend: pastels. “No pastels,” urges Bonnanzio. “Next spring will all be in the medium color register.”

Texture will continue to be a key look at Mulberry Neckwear, where satin, twill, oxford and sublé will give otherwise humdrum two-color stripes interest. “Going across all collections, ties will be more sartorial,” says Henry Jacobson, Mulberry cofounder and creative director. “There will be less going on, less busy.”

New York–based tie maker Alexander Olch is achieving a textured look through treated textiles. Next year’s collection will be cut from raw silk, rough linen and what he calls “deliberately messed up” cotton. “I like ties with a natural hand that have a nap to them,” says the young designer, whose trendy neckwear retails in Bergdorf Goodman Men.

In addition to seasonal fabrics, which will make a strong appearance in the Trafalgar and Geoffrey Beene lines, Randa is taking a shine to iridescence. “We’ll have micro-texture solids that have high sheen,” Kammeier says, adding that the sharkskin look will also crop into the company’s offering.

Paisleys have been front and center for four seasons now, but Superba is planting a seed for change. The neckwear giant will be calling out botanicals next spring as its primary trend. “Last fall was paisleys, this fall is grids and plaids, and now I think it’s time for florals,” says Larry Kniola, executive vice-president of sales and marketing.

Florals have been a favorite motif of Valentino, a Superba licensee, but Kniola sees the trend being articulated across all their brands, which include Nautica, DKNY and Ted Baker. “There are ways of doing them in every brand,” says Kniola.

Mulberry’s Jacobson agrees. He’ll be launching O by Oscar de le Renta this fall with strong flamenco and botanical influences, but says the trend will bloom company-wide by spring. “Florals can be done across all brands in a way that’s consistent with each point of view,” he says.

XMI, which manufactures its own brands, like Umbria and Platinum Neckwear, for Nordstrom and specialty stores, also thinks botanicals will provide growth next spring. “The trend is that paisley begets florals,” says president Jack Khzouz, “though we call them ‘organics.’”

XMI will be showing organics—leaves, vines and florals both literal and abstract—across its entire portfolio. “You have to give the customer another reason to buy,” says Khzouz.