Pitching Wu: Conrad’s Compelling New Neckwear Line

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The new year is shaping up to be a good one for those in search of affordable, well-made, traditional neckwear. Following on the heels of December’s announcement of Paul Winston’s webstore for Chipp2 comes new source for handmade ties in conservative widths and patterns as staid as anything found on the racks of traditional clothiers.

New York City-based Conrad Wu announced the opening of his eponymous brand in October of last year, but since much of the hubbub is happening over at Style Forum, Wu’s ties have likely stayed below the radar of Tradsville. While not an overtly Ivy or preppy brand, Conrad Wu is poised to have appeal across the spectrum of menswear, and for lovers of matte-finished repps and regimental stripes there is obviously much to like. What’s more, the ties are currently on sale in Celebration of Chinese New Year.

Each Conrad Wu necktie is handmade in New York City and features three-fold construction. The blades are untipped with hand-rolled edges. Widths vary from 8-8.5cm, well within the traditional sweet spot.

In addition to regimental rep stripes, hearty woolens, and small-print foulards, Wu offers a selection of stripes in shantung silk (such as the tie pictured above), that rare, nubby textured silk made popular a couple of years ago by luxury makers such as Drake’s of London.

Wu tells Ivy Style his plans for the brand are modest and focused on value. “My goal for my brand isn’t to make it big,” he says. “I draw personal satisfaction knowing that others are happy with my products. Quality and customer service will forever be what I strive for.”

With prices ranging from $87 for a wool tie to $93 for a shantung, Wu seems well-positioned to capitalize on the resurging interest in artisanal neckwear while offering a price below his competitors. — ZACHARY DELUCA

20 Comments on "Pitching Wu: Conrad’s Compelling New Neckwear Line"

  1. Christian, I’m shocked that you allowed the word “artisanal” to be published. :)

  2. An untipped lightly lined tie of three inches was once very “Ivy”

  3. I’ve never spent $87 on a tie, and I’ve got more than 50 silk ties. I’ve bought great quality, Italian made repp ties for half that price or less. And, to be honest, the tie on the picture looks like a $3 thrift store purchase to me. Unless, of course, I’m missing some incredibly modern menswear trend and I’m completely lost. 😉

  4. @Dan

    Yes, but I exorcised it from the headline.

  5. @Alex

    My general observation is that most gentlemen have either a love or hate relationship towards the shantung (raw silk) fabric. The “slubby” appearance may not be for everyone but I don’t believe it should warrant the comment regarding how it looks like a $3 thrift store purchase. The fabric itself is woven by arguably the most well-respected silk mill in Italy (two of the largest English mills will agree) and features a very unique appearance. Maybe my photography skills are lacking.

    Raw silk and shantung fabrics for neckware have been around for quite some time so I don’t believe it’s a trend.

    Regarding the price: Opting for each necktie to be completely hand made, in addition to featuring an untipped, hand-rolled blade, means that means there is no use of the liba machine, which drastically reduces the amount of labor and time to produce each necktie.

  6. Ironchefsakai | February 7, 2014 at 9:08 am |

    A beautiful piece, I’d say; but the price is a little hard to swallow. Still,
    Cheaper than Drake’s comparable pieces (on par with them 50% off at Mr. Porter’s recent sale). If the 20% discount applied, I would be far more interested.

  7. I applaud Mr. Wu’s efforts. The ties look fantastic. I personally think that shauntung ties are underutilized. Texture should not be overlooked when constructing a rig and raw silk ties have a very unique look.

  8. @ Conrad,

    You’re right about the love/hate relationship and that it “may not be for everyone.” It’s not your photography skills: I don’t like this tie at all and it’s definitely not for me. I’m probably just showing my ignorance, but even after your perfectly understandanble explanation this tie looks cheap to me (though I understand it is not.)

    Anyway, there’s no tie in the world that would justify spending $90 of my hard earned cash. Maybe I’m not rich enough, or not cool enough, but I pride myself on wearing high quality clothes at affordable prices.

  9. There is a long history of the raw silk tie in various forms (such as tussah and shantung), dating back to Apparel Arts. Here are some photos of shantung and raw silk ties from Brooks, Press, and Andover: http://thesuitroom.tumblr.com/post/76001403316/the-raw-silk-tie-in-tussah-and-shantung-from

    I can’t say for sure where Wu’s ties are made, but I can certainly wager an educated guess, and if they’re made where I think they are, the people making them do so from scratch using only shears, a needle and thread, and a light iron. If such a craftsperson can’t be called an “artisan,” no one can.

  10. Shantung Royal Navy regimental striped tie, what’s not to like?

  11. @ MAC,

    Mmmhh, let’s see… I like the “royal navy regimental striped tie” part, so obviously it’s the “shantung” bit that I don’t like. 😉

    This is is a style forum where everyone is entitled to (respectfully) express their opinions. There have been artcicles on fun shirts, GTH colors or seersucker suits, which, as Conrad wisely pointed out, “may not be for everyone.”

    I think there shouldn’t be any established opinions on what’s to like or what’s not to like, not even within the Ivy/preppy camp. I don’t like shantung ties the same way I don’t like bean boots or Lilly Pulitzer mens pants. On the other hand, I like Nantucked red pants and I find it perfectly acceptable that other Ivy/preppy enthusiasts don’t.

  12. Burchfield Fowler | February 9, 2014 at 11:12 am |

    If anybody gave me that tie as a gift, and I was unable to exchange it, I’d try to remove the nubs with an electric shaver or manicure scissors. If I ruined the tie in the process, it would be no great loss.

  13. It’s no great loss to me either, acknowledging that I’m personally indifferent to the fact that you’ll never wear my products.

  14. @Conrad

    I very much doubt if you’re indifferent to the fact that people won’t buy your products, sir, since I assume that you produce them in order to make money.

  15. @Honest Gabe, it’s obvious that @Conrad was responding specifically to the rather ill-mannered, ignorant and trollish comment above, not saying he is indifferent in general. You’d be hard pressed to find someone nicer and who offers better customer service than him. But you really don’t go into making small batches of fine ties to make money, and certainly not at the prices Conrad charges, which I can assure you are not excessive for the design, materials and quality of workmanship. Just have a look around at other small high-quality tie-makers, even just in New York, and see what they charge… and his sale prices, given that he is not a high volume operation, were extremely generous. There are growing numbers of people out there who appreciate this kind of carefully and ethically made quality product, myself included. You should try him and see…

  16. Alex
    I totally agree with your comment, to each his own style and taste. I didn’t grow up in the NE, I did in the South and Mid-west, so I tend to embrace seersucker, poplin, linen, etc.. I like shantung ties, they tend to give texture to a poplin suit for instance. Someone once referred to Shantung silk as summer tweed.

  17. Almost comical how many people bother to comment not knowing the first thing about the subject; I am looking at you Alex and Burchfield. I can only hope that you’re trolling and you’re not that dumb in real life.

  18. Poor tie got played with by a cat.

  19. Reasonably priced is the $35 that you’ll pay Paul Winston for a tie. $87 and up seems a bit high. Being a cheap New Englander at heart, I sometimes walk the 5 miles from DCA to my hotel in Arlington. And being a cheap New Englander at heart, I think that I won’t be buying any of these.

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