Discarded neckties find their way back to the forefront of fashion.
Even prior to the rise in work-from-home culture, men had pretty much eschewed neckties for a more casual look. According to fashion forecasters, ties are on their way out, which is just fine with the majority of men, who are happy to release themselves from the windpipe restricting accessory.
This is also good news for Gareth Brown of Rooey Knots whose cottage industry is based on repurposing discarded silk neckties, which she picks up at second-hand stores, to create colorful women’s headwear.
Each Rooey Knots’ creation incorporates two or more ties, either twisted into a half-and-half design, knotted into a fun flapper style band with a front bow, or woven together into a multi-patterned headband. Brown also constructs more elaborate designs like a flower crown with a ring of roses made entirely from sculpted ties. The neckties provide wonderful patterns and colors that the designer mixes and matches to complement each other. The unique beauty of each is enhanced by the pairings.
More recently, Brown has started making little crossbody bags with stripes of patterned tie material, backed with reclaimed denim or leather, and embellished with a leather fringe. She also twists necktie material into bracelets and necklaces. Generally Brown limits her designs to silk ties, but if she finds a particularly eye-catching pattern in a man-made fabric, she will incorporate it into one of the small bags.
Rooey Knots served as the launching pad for Brown’s fashion line, which currently includes dresses, blouses, dusters, and jumpsuits, all made from remnant fabrics — another way that the designer focuses on using surplus or other materials destined for the landfill in her various lines.
“I felt like, when I was studying fashion design, I had a slight hesitation to go into an industry that was very consumer based,” says Brown. “Fast fashion, throwaway culture was on the rise when I was in college. My mom always had this non-wasteful attitude. It felt like fashion was wasteful. When I’m using ties, I’m recycling, and when I use scrap material I’m not adding to the production cycle.
Brown has also discovered that, for her, a focus on repurposing has proved to be the mother of invention. “It forces a little bit of creativity,” she says. “You have to come up with new ideas that make you feel more morally responsible.”
Rooey Knots headbands and other designs by Gareth Brown can be found at Kin, 12 North Water Street, Edgartown or purchased through the designer’s website.