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Do men's ties still sell?

By Kristopher Fraser

8 Aug 2022


Image: ties.com

The tie. For centuries, it has been a staple of American menswear, and no formal look or business attire was complete without one. Even perfecting an excellent tie knot, to this day, is considered a refined art form. However, as office dress codes have become laxer, and after surviving a global pandemic where workwear included at-home sweat pants, the tie has fallen out of favor. Even men who are still suiting up are opting for the blazer, button-up shirt, and no-tie look. It is a modern look for a man who still wants to dress up, but doesn’t want the restrictiveness of a tie.

The market for men's ties is declining

In an era where fewer men are donning the tie, are ties still profitable? Some seem to think so, like eBay resellers. There are several YouTube videos teaching people how to sell ties on eBay because they are known to sell well on the marketplace platform. Of course, not just any old tie is selling well, but it all comes down to the specific brands. According to YouTuber Stephen Raiken of the channel Raiken Profit, brands like Vineyard Vines and Robert Talbott sell well in the competitive resale market.

On the other hand, traditional retailers report sales of neckties dipping. In June 2021, Wall Street Journal reported that Rutledge’s, a 54-year-old men’s clothing store in Colorado Springs, went from selling 35 neckties a month in 2018 to just 15 a month in 2020. Neckwear no longer gets the attention it used to on the sales floor. Seigo, a tie-focused store on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, told the Wall Street Journal that in 2020 his company did the worst it ever did in its 30-year history. The shop’s owner, Seigo Kasturagawa, said his shop’s performance after 9/11 wasn’t even as bad as it was in 2020.

The decline in men wearing ties can be largely attributed to the pandemic. Men did not need suits, much fewer ties, as the standard Zoom call wardrobe became sweatpants and hoodies. At most, men might need a button-up shirt for more formal video meetings, but no one was suiting up like an extra from Wolf of Wall Street.

In July 2021, fashion historian Kimberly Charisman-Campbell wrote a piece for The Atlantic where she said tie wearers have tasted their freedom and no one should expect them to go back. Workplace dress codes are more relaxed, and bosses aren’t expecting employees to have the formality when it comes to office dressing they did pre-pandemic.

While menswear sales did recover post-lockdown as people headed back to the office and their social lives, the necktie doesn’t seem like it will ever have the gravitas it did in the pre-21st century. According to Men’s Dress Furnishing Association, sales of neckties peaked in 1995 at 1.3 billion dollars and have only declined since.

Men now have racks full of ties and nowhere to wear them, with the decline in formal dress codes. Even thrift stores and charity shops no longer require neckties, as the customer base for them is continuously shrinking.

At the rate the men’s tie market is going, neckties are prone to going the way of the dodo bird. Formality isn’t as rigid as it once was, and a suit no longer requires a tie.