It's knot over yet: The Tie Rack chain has finally come undone just when it looks as though formal neckwear might be on the up again

Rebecca Gonsalves says farewell to an institution

And lo, another great British name has fallen. Tie Rack goes the way of those retail institutions so familiar that it's hard to remember a time when they weren't there – though on reflection, it's even harder to remember the last time you set foot in one.

With payday-loan companies, pound stores and charity shops, the modern high street is a hostile place for many retailers, so news that Tie Rack is planning to close its remaining 44 UK stores is hardly surprising. What was once a brilliant retail concept – a shop offering affordable, high-quality silk ties – has gone the way of so many other single-item specialists.

Founded in 1981 by South African shoe-bar owner Roy Bishko, Tie Rack emerged on to a high street far inferior to the one we are now familiar with, facing competition from C&A and Mr Byrite. Once renowned for quality, Tie Rack reached its peak in 1998 with 450 stores nationwide, and was such a successful concept that a former employee, Sophie Mirman, aped it with the Sock Shop chain, whose 52 stores made her Britain's youngest millionaire.

But over the years, the brand became associated not with forward thinking but with quick fixes – the duty-free saviour when on the way to a business meeting abroad, or a last-minute thoughtless gift for the business executive in your life at Christmas.

There was more to the brand than just ties, with handkerchiefs, gloves and cufflinks all to be found under one roof. In fact, reports that just one in five of the brand's sales came from its namesake product indicate that this was a brand that had sadly lost its way.

In 2011, Black Label, a premium line of cashmere, silk and Italian leather, was launched in the hope of staunching the continuing decline of the retailer, but with competitors that could suit, boot and accessorise their customers under one roof. It came as too little, too late.

The closure of the beleaguered business is being blamed on the rise of business casualwear, which is certainly visible. If even the likes of David Cameron and Barack Obama can't be relied upon to wear a tie at all times, then who is likely to keep up a tradition that first emerged in the late 1860s with the four-in-hand knot most will remember from their schooldays?

The Mad Men effect may have reintroduced dandy touches such as pocket squares and tiepins to the mainstream, but ties were notable by their absence from many of the catwalks for autumn/winter 2013. Gucci, Agi & Sam, and even Hermès showed buttoned-up shirts and suits without ties, while Hardy Amies and E Tautz, the ready-to-wear line of Savile Row tailors Norton & Sons, stayed true to tradition.

Although the mandatory uniform of suit and tie may be on the wane in the workplace, there are still plenty of dapper chaps out there who opt for pure silk from the likes of Hermès, Tom Ford and Paul Smith to complement their well-cut suits, viewing such an extravagance as an investment as well as a front-and-centre status symbol.

But it's not just schoolboys and stockbrokers who can be relied upon to tie one on – Topman reports that sales of ties are up 10 per cent on last autumn/winter, its best-seller being a black skinny version which channels the "Mod" look that is perennially popular among its youthful clientele. The high-street store is even extending its fashion-specific skinny styles, with a range of options that include floral prints and black denim.

Tie Rack fans – there must be some, the company still turned over some £68m in 2011 – shouldn't weep just yet, though. Stores won't close until 27 December, so there's plenty of time to stock up on stocking fillers.

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    SharePoint Engineer - Bishop's Stortford

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organ...

    Planning Manager (Training, Learning and Development) - London

    £35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glob...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    £50 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a Teaching Assistant...

    Year 5 Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking KS...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering