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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
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
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

    £21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher

    £120 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: The Humanities Department of this ...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Music Teacher

    £120 - £180 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: Newham Position: Music Start dat...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee