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
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

    salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

    Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

    Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower