Latest: Get knotted: ties get a rebrand as they bring formal fun for men and women

Once synonymous with the school gates and the boardroom, neckties are experiencing a rebrand as they pivot from forced formality to high fashion.

At this year’s Bafta awards, Saltburn star Barry Keoghan added a smart twist to a Burberry jacket with a squat, cream-coloured tie. He’s the latest celebrity to sport officewear on the red carpet, and the great tie revival spans all genders and age groups.

At the Critics Choice awards, 20-year-old The Last of Us actor Bella Ramsey accessorised their Thom Browne toile printed suit with a hexagonal striped tie, while Cillian Murphy’s loose and sloppy knotted tie looked liked he’d just strolled out of the exam hall. At the Grammy awards, everyone from Boygenius to Billie Eilish wore silky black neckties. At fashion month, both the front row and the catwalks put a fresh spin on the old-school accessory. At Tommy Hilfiger in New York, models played with preppy codes, wearing untucked shirts with loosely knotted ties topped off not with a traditional blazer but knitted rugby shirts, chunky cardigans and varsity jackets.

Model Sabrina Dhowre Elba arrives at the Gucci show during Milan fashion week. Photograph: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Gucci

“Dressing up is back. We are moving away from streetwear into a more polished look. It’s in the air – I can feel it,” Hilfiger said as he celebrated his return to New York fashion week after a two-year absence.

At the menswear show in January, 24 of the 49 models at Prada’s show wore ties. Prada’s creative directors Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons even sent guests a maroon red tie as the invitation. After The Bear TV star Ayo Edebiri recently wore a russet leather tie, originally seen on the Bottega Veneta menswear catwalk, the £410 tie sold out.

The resale platform Depop reports sales of ties are up 31% year on year. More than 90% of its active users are under the age of 25.

It comes at a time when neckties continue to decline in city financial districts. In 2016, banks including JP Morgan relaxed dress codes to reflect a more modern approach to workwear, heavily influenced by Silicon Valley. While they didn’t go so far as giving a green light to hoodies and jeans, a jacket and an open collar shirt for non-client facing meetings have become the norm. At London’s department store Liberty, searches for silk neck ties are down 23%.

Yang-Yi Goh, style editor at GQ describes the tie upswing as a “fascinating phenomenon”. “Over the last several years, all sense of formality has been stripped from traditional office life, and here in New York you’re much more likely to see a Wall Street banker in stretchy Lululemon pants and terrible sneakers than a suit and tie,” Goh says.

Goh, who wears a vintage tie most days, says the accessory’s comeback within the fashion world is “a rejoinder to the athleisure and wild style of the past few years”.

“It just feels fresh in 2024 – a nice way to show the friends you’re meeting up with or the co-workers you’re greeting at the office that you actually gave a damn that day.”

There is also a sense of irony to millennials and gen Z embracing what was once a status signifier of the corporate world. Traditionally, ties came with numerous rules pegged to class distinctions –the right knot, the right pattern – which were typically passed down from one generation to the next.

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“We see gen Z subverting tailoring and ties as traditional power symbols associated with the corporate world,” said a spokesperson for Depop.

For its 2023 Men of the Year issue, GQ even featured Kim Kardashian on its cover, eating a bag of Cheetos and dressed in a power suit and a patterned tie from the NY luxury brand Paul Stuart.

Emma Firth, a writer in her 30s who chooses her neckwear from a collection of ties sourced from vintage and charity shops, cites Julia Roberts’s 1990 Golden Globes look and Diane Keaton in Annie Hall as her tie obsessions. “It’s an inexpensive, and just fun in my opinion, accessory that is historically associated with very serious and ‘important’ businessmen.”

“Knotting up a tie helps to make you look and feel more put together,” adds GQ’s Goh.

“It gives you a sense of purpose. Often, I find that the right tie is the thing that takes a look from good to great.”

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