While I (almost) never put on a tie, it may seem surprising to me to write about the Howard's brand. But its history, and above all the enthusiasm and passion of Frédéric, make that any lover of elegance can not reasonably miss the offer of this dynamic house.
When Hugo Jacomet (Parisian Gentleman) introduced me Frédéric, the founder, I was very intrigued by his story, because Fred was not at all destined to be known for his ties ...
Indeed, Frédéric is basically a car enthusiast (I would say even a passionate short). He stopped school at 16, which did not prevent him from applying a few years later at Ferrari. At the time of the job interview, he realizes he can not find the ultimate tie he wants to wear.
His parents then push him to embark on entrepreneurship. Always frustrated at not having found the desired tie for his maintenance, he literally went to the mountains - near Como in Italy - to discover the technique behind this accessory.
It is besides the sense of the detail, and the technicality found in a tie, which it likes very much; reminding him of his past as an engineer.
When I asked Frédéric what had been the decisive factors in the success of his project, he replied that it was his love and his absolute respect for both the product and the know-how behind it. He also said he had always been insatiable curiosity, because he did not hesitate to call the best "cravatiers" to ask them a lot of questions, to the point.
And guess what?
Most of the time, he had answers provided and complete. But the story is not over ...
He had to find a name for his brand. At the time, Frederic was barely 20 years old, and he was often taken for the owner's son, while working alone in his brand.
It needed a name that reassures. It was the time when English names were fashionable: Weston, Wicket, Hartwood or Hartford, among others. Its brand is called Howard's, while it is 100% French. Frederic carefully chooses the fabrics that will become beautiful ties.
Very quickly, he starts to develop his own ties, but he feels limited in the choice of colors and finishes manufacturers. He wants to make a product that looks more like him, and he starts to develop his own colors.
To understand Howard's, you must know that Frederic loves to have a choice: he is the kind to develop 20 colors and textures, while others will propose only five variations.
This explains the profusion of colors when you enter the shop, but it has an advantage: there will be necessarily one for you.
And yet, Frederic starts to get tired ... He deplores the lack of novelty in the world of the tie, and thinks more and more to find another activity. But before, he decides to make a final series of ties, which looks totally like him, putting himself no constraint in terms of price or finishes. Quitting to stop, as much to have fun, hence the colors more fanciful.
The color palette used by Howard's is particularly sought after.
He explains above all this choice by a lot of pragmatism: he works very closely with experienced people, very flexible on orders, with very reasonable delays, since it does not need to wait 3 weeks that a production arrives.
For him, working with French allows him to express precisely what he really wants in terms of technical details. It is this series that was a success, and that put it on the front of the small world scene of the sartorial blogosphere, where Hugo Jacomet from the Parisian Gentleman blog is one of its biggest promoters in France, alongside Julien Scavini.
Exactly, let's see the particularity of his ties.
I, who loves well textured fabrics, am here served with silk grenadine. Be careful, it's woven silk, which is still different from a silk knit tie (which I also like). To obtain such a complex texture, silk is woven on old looms because modern looms go too fast. So I turned to a three-fold tie doubled, with a woolen interlining. Howard's offer is plethoric, there are also seven-fold unlined ties that I expose later in this article.
Here we see the beautiful texture of silk grenadine. It changes completely from a stiff tie in "smooth" silk! Hand rolling on both sides of the tip gives this characteristic roundness that purists love so much.
The finishes are obviously impeccable, with many details that we rarely cross in this price range: the button is a little nod to Howard's shirts. If you open it, you can see the interlining.
We see here the work on the folds of the tie. You obviously do not have such work in the entry-level. It's the little embroidered daisy that's Howard's signature. It is also found at the other end of the tie.
The yellow cross stitches allow the tie to recover its shape after wearing it. We also see the logo which represents a golfer, but Frédéric recognizes willingly that it is quite complicated to decrypt ...
We are facing a very beautiful product, at a price accessible to all, which does not have to blush of what offers the luxury houses. It is surely one of the best quality/price ratio in this price range (from € 70 to € 160 for 7-fold cashmere models).
By the way, I take the opportunity to tell you that as long as you wear a suit in shades of gray or blue, with a white shirt or very pale blue, you do not really have to overthink on the color of the tie, because they are so neutral color bases that they will support almost all the shades.
Think also about wool ties, which are a great alternative:
And if you like more textures, and want something more raw, but also more original, Howard's recently released silk ties "Shantung", with this irregular side very characteristic. Shantung silk has a "fluted" appearance (Hugo Jacomet from the Parisian Gentleman French blog also speaks of "scratched" appearance), due to the irregularity of the weft threads used for weaving, because they are more rough threads.
The result is a richer rendering, it is a little the same philosophy as Japanese materials that see in the irregularity of manual work a superior beauty because imperfect (wabi-sabi). It is therefore an original material, which gives a certain cachet to an elegant outfit.
Indeed, between a tie at 50 € and a 100 €, one can wonder what are the differences, and what justifies the price. There is obviously matter in itself. You can imagine that a silk grenadine tie, or made of a color developed specifically for the brand, will not cost the same price as a banal polyester entry-level ...
But all the art of a "cravatier" is to choose the interlining, which is a bit of the backbone of the tie. It is this slightly rigid fabric that we do not see, but gives the "hand" to the tie.
A beautiful tie has a certain fluidity in its fall, it falls and moves nicely with the wearer, unlike polyester ties that are sometimes too rigid. It is for this reason that unlined ties are highly appreciated by Italians, because they have a very particular lightness, very ... Italian finally.
Then there are the famous seven-fold ties unlined, acclaimed blogs. They are made of a single piece of silk that we will fold ... seven times to give a tie shape.
The result is very technical and spectacular:
But this kind of product is primarily for connoisseurs, lovers of crafts, and more globally beautiful objects, those who are sensitive to handmade products. Because in fact, a three fold tie is at least as good as intrinsically a seven fold tie, if one is based on the usual criteria: duration in time, seams, etc. It is for this reason that it does not make much sense to ask if a brand makes quality ties.
What you have to look at is rather the choice of materials (is the color worked, is it pretty?), And the technicality of the assembly. It's up to you to see if you are sensitive to this craft work or not. Personally, it counts more and more for me.
The brand also offers shirts made in France, between 129 and 159 €.
The finishes are very classic, but Frédéric showed me an extremely promising prototype, with beautiful English seams on the sides, and very fine seams.
Knowing the passion that Frederic puts in his products, I am very confident about the quality. Besides, if you have the time to talk with him, the story of the choice of the workshop for his shirts is incredible, and was an adventure in itself, as it had to fight against the problems of Made in France (namely: unenthusiastic workshops, little open to new products, difficult shopping conditions, and so on).
So much so that he thought of relocating the manufacture of its shirts in Morocco, Portugal and Romania (at constant quality), until he dropped me, "Benoit finally I stopped everything. I did not manage to relocate because I did not want to leave (he talks about his current French workshop), not after all the relationship we had woven together.
Indeed, the workshop knows it very well now, and now enjoys great flexibility on order quantities. More than ever, he is determined to develop new things with him, especially the famous English seams!
At the time I met Frederic, he had some prototypes of scarves to show me. His reasoning was the same as for the creation of his ties: what novelty could he bring to this accessory?
Instead of turning to knitted wool like 99% of other scarves, he continued to use Vitale Barberis Canonico's precious and original fabrics, putting his usual finishing touches (like his ties): roulotte in hand, embroidered daisy, and travetti that finish the seam.
The travetto is the small pile of thread that we see at the end of the seams cross on this picture (at the corners, under the flower). For the most interested, know that Hugo Jacomet speaks much better than me in his latest article on Howard's.
You understand that we strongly recommend this brand, especially if you have to wear the tie every day. They are very beautiful pieces, with a real personality.
And the kind of gift that makes sense to a connoisseur.
Note that Howard's has a unique boutique at 45 rue d'Amsterdam in Paris, where Frédéric will welcome you personally. He is a passionate and very good person, who will be happy to direct you to the shirt/tie/sleeve chords.
There is also an eshop on the brand's website, which can be very valuable for a last-minute choice for the New Year.