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Hermes men’s silks creative director Christophe Goineau on why ties still matter

The Hermes veteran of 30 years on the challenges of getting men to accessorise, and why we still wear ties as dress codes get more relaxed.

This year marks Christophe Goineau’s 30th year with Hermes. As the creative director of Men’s Silks, he oversees the design and creation of all the men’s ties and scarves by the French luxury house. Here, he shares his thoughts on the changing ways in which men accessorise, why the scarf is the new tie, and how clients never fail to surprise him.

01: WITH DRESSING GETTING MORE CASUAL, DO MEN STILL WEAR TIES?

In general, the tie business is going down, but ours is stable and growing – slowly. People are buying fewer ties today, but they buy for pleasure, not because they have to. Previously, they bought maybe five ties each season – now maybe one or two, but they select them carefully, and to reflect their personalities. Interestingly, we’re seeing younger men buy our ties because their fathers no longer wear them, and they want to be different.

(RELATED: Check out Hermes’ interactive home furnishings exhibition.)

02: HOW IS DESIGNING MEN’S AND WOMEN’S SCARVES DIFFERENT?

Scarves have been big business for Hermes for many years, but men’s scarves are (relatively) new. For the men’s scarves, we use different materials – not shiny materials like silk twill, but instead a cashmere and silk blend, which is matte, and not slippery, so it doesn’t move around. The scarves are also larger – 100cm by 100cm, instead of 90cm by 90cm. So, men can just wrap it around their necks without having to tie knots. You always have to make things easy for men (laughs).

Hermes Scarf

03: TELL US ABOUT THE DESIGNERS YOU WORK WITH, SUCH AS DAISUKE NOMURA, WHO CREATED THE FLAMBOYANT WEB DESIGN.

Hermes has its own in-house designers, such as Henri d’Origny, who has been with Hermes for 50 years. We also work with many freelance designers. Daisuke is a Japanese textile and graphic designer, and we met when he entered a contest we held with (design website) Designboom.

Contestants were asked to imagine what the Hermes tie would look like in 20 years. Daisuke created a design featuring a skeletonised version of our logo – we couldn’t produce it because it’s over the top (laughs), but we created an Audacity prize for him. I told him he would be welcome to create other scarf designs for us. We’ve been working with him since 2009.

04: THE IDEA OF ACCESSORISING WITH A SCARF DOESN’T COME NATURALLY TO MANY MEN. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO CHANGE THIS?

We say that scarves are the new ties, because the vocabulary around the two products is similar: It’s something we wear around the neck, and it’s about pattern, colours, and something that makes you more elegant. We have an app called Silk Knots, to show men a few different ways to wear a scarf. This helps to show people it’s not that complicated. When they know how to wear it, they will try more patterns and colours.

(RELATED: “If you can design but can’t cut (cloth), then learn,” says fashion director Daniel Boey to Singapore’s young designers.)

05: WHAT’S THE MOST SURPRISING WAY YOU’VE SEEN SOMEONE WEAR AN HERMES SCARF?

I remember seeing a very elegant, very old man wearing one of our scarves that had a bold pattern and bright colours. I would not have imagined someone like him wearing that. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, sometimes you get young guys wearing very traditional pieces. I believe you create something, and then that object will meet someone. First, we try to surprise our clients – then, they surprise us.

Header photo: Alede Nicolai

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