They say it is the only thing that adds colour in a man's wardrobe. The fact that it speaks a lot about a person's character and taste, a necktie has its significant place in a man's wardrobe – or a woman's gift list.
Evolving from a scarf worn by the English upper class in the old days to becoming an accessory for a corporate worker — primarily to add colour to his wardrobe — the necktie has come a long way.
For the smart buyer, the necktie is an opportunity to showcase fine taste, but it pays to know the range on offer – and the prices that matter – because valuing a good pick in ties is not an easy thing for many.
Zodiac Clothing Company Limited is the pioneering company in neckties and first got them to India in the early 1970s when ties were largely imported or were brought in by those who travelled abroad. "It was around 1975 onwards that the unorganised market of neckties became more active in areas like Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi," says Sanjiv Khanna, owner, Fashion Dezire, a Delhi based company that manufactures ties.
In the organised market, players like Genesis Colors, the company that owns the Satya Paul brand, began making waves in the early 1990s. Strangely, Zodiac today has a product range comprising shirts largely and neckties now make up a small share of the total business.
Then there are labels like Bentleys, Reid & Taylor, Peter England and Park Avenue amongst others. Among designer labels we have names like Satya Paul and Study by Janak that offer special designs.
The most common material used for ties is silk and silk blends. One can get varieties like woven jacquard silk, printed silk and artificial silk. Designs like paisleys (droplet-shaped patterns of Persian origin) are also popular.
A branded or a designer tie can set you back by anywhere between Rs 245 to Rs 10,000. Apart from leading names, there is also the unorganised market where polyester printed ties can be bought for as low as Rs 100. Industry sources say big brands often outsource work to a local manufacturer and then sell it at a fat price on their own labels. "The manufacturing cost of a tie varies between Rs 20 to Rs 1,000 and once branded it sells at a much higher cost," informs a local manufacturer on condition of anonymity. And so, looking for a direct purchase with an eye for good design could save you money. Khanna's company, which also supplies to big brands, runs a Website (www.necktie.co.in) which can be of help.
Cleaning chaff from the grain
Experts believe that a tie user is getting more discerning and hence, the unorganised market with its plain or limited options is getting smaller. Brands like Satya Paul have 15 in-house designers to take care of both domestic and export markets.
"We don't see any threat from the unorganised market as users are getting more discerning and won't settle for cheap stuff," Jyoti Nirula, Managing Director, Genesis Colors told Hindustan Times. Nirula's view is reiterated by fashion designer Raghuvendra Rathore, "People are getting more selective about what they wear although there is still time before people give up the who-ares attitude completely." He adds wearing differing ties is similar to the difference between driving a Ferrari and a Maruti 800: both serve the same purpose but also speak about a person's social standing or taste.
Necktie is a predominant Indian gift for men. "A necktie is a serious corporate gift," adds Nirula. Satya Paul offers cufflink packs including cufflinks, ties and handkerchiefs priced between Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000. The brand has tied up with corporate labels like Tata AIG, Kingfisher Airlines and Citibank to supply gift packs.
Ties can be innovative too, though opinions differ on how far they can go.
The brand also has ties with Sanskrit slokas priced at Rs 1,495. Rathore says people gifting a necktie should remember that a serious user of a necktie would be a frequent traveller and hence it would be sensible to go in only for the classiest options.