by Jonathan Forgang
The necktie can symbolize the noose of a corporate desk job or be the epitome of downtown bohemian chic. It can be worn skinny or wide, Windsor-knotted or loose. Yet somehow the basic form of the tie has changed very little over the years.
Struck by this anomaly a little more than a year ago, James Kendi decided to do something about it by creating Kendi Ties. One of his most notable changes can be instantly observed in his Dagger Tie, where the tip doesn't fall directly center but on a slant like, well, a dagger. The cuts may be brand new but many of the materials used in the ties are familiar from a fashion standpoint. "I choose materials that aren't typically used for neckties," says James. For instance, Kendi has transformed brushed cotton buffalo plaid, a fabric usually used for woodsmen clothes and hunting gear, into some fashion-forward neck candy. "When you re-contextualize the fabric in the form of a tie, which is formal, it takes on an entirely new meaning," he says.
If you're not the woodsmen type you might try one of the ties in acid-washed denim, seersucker, T-shirt jersey fabric, corduroy, or bandana fabric. The overall feel of the Kendi collection is playful and one of defying expectations in your wardrobe. As James Kendi puts it, "People should have fun with what they wear and not take themselves too seriously—or at least don't let anyone know you do!"
Illustrations by Hanna Sandin, courtesy of Kendi
Kendi celebrates the necktie as more than just a job requirement.