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Front Page - Friday, October 28, 2011

Wilson & Bow design custom neckties, one for CBA forthcoming

Matthew Wilson is a co-owner of Wilson & Bow, a fine neckwear designer based in Chattanooga. Here, he shows off the custom tie he created for the Chattanooga Bar Association. - Erica Tuggle

Matthew Wilson began his adoration for neckties when he started wearing them at 6-years-old. He says he didn’t know what he liked so much about them then, but knows why he likes them now as co-owner of Wilson & Bow, a fine neckwear designer. First, he says, no matter who you are, if you are dressed up, you perform better.

He likes that wearing a necktie helps men think differently about themselves and people interact with them differently. Wilson’s wife has a saying: “Life is worth getting dressed up for,” and he says he agrees with that. “I think people act differently, more professionally and more productively, when they are dressed up,” Wilson says. “Guys in business basically have navy suits, black suits, variations on that and khaki pants. A necktie is the only thing you can really do without being ‘way out there’ to express yourself and what you like and say something about yourself.”

He also says that at the end of the day, necktie companies that have done really well are ultimately not selling a necktie. They are selling a perceived lifestyle or desired image. For Wilson & Bow, the image they want for the men that wear their neckties is more masculine than whimsical. Wilson says their 30 different kinds of tie designs are done in mind for a classic look with bold stripes and bright colors as options. This classic and bold look was also applied to the tie that Wilson has designed for the Chattanooga Bar Association. Set to release in late October, before the October 28 golf gathering, the tie is going to be a regimental stripe classic tie. While the college prep style of tie has two colors, the regimental stripe has three or four colors. The regimental neckties are traditionally an English tie that different branches of military wore to distinguish themselves, says Wilson. Between the blue and purple stripes of the CBA tie, there are going to be the CBA logo and touches of gold.

“It’s a very lush looking, opulent tie design,” Wilson says. Wilson has also designed custom ties for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, McCallie and GPS. Wilson is a McCallie alum, born and raised in Chattanooga with a long family history in the area. After graduating McCallie in 1996, Wilson attended UTC. He currently works at UTC in the development office. The beginning of Wilson’s necktie business began at UTC when a friend from McCallie invited Wilson to China to do a month of backpacking. The day before Wilson left to return to the states, Wilson and his friend bought 600 to 800 ties on the streets of Beijing.

Wilson brought the ties back and began to sell them out of his trunk and around town to law offices and CPA firms. Each time Wilson’s friend would go to China, he would pick up more neckties for Wilson. In the back of Wilson’s mind, he was still thinking of doing neckties on a bigger level with his own line. Two and a half years ago, when his wife was expecting their baby, it was “now or never,” Wilson says. He got his first batch of neckties of about 3,000 and jumped right into it.

Wilson & Bow have sold most of their neckties at trunk shows, a kind of guerilla marketing way to move a good amount of ties, Wilson says. They also have retail locations like Ciao Bella downtown, Twigs on Lookout Mountain, and Galleries on Williams Street. They also sell online, and are working to establish PayPal and credit card methods of payment. Wilson muses that most of the stores that carry their neckties cater to women, but says this is because women buy more ties than men do and love to buy ties for their men.

Wilson says he would like to continue to develop the custom tie side of Wilson & Bow, picking local country clubs to do custom ties for, as well as branch out the trunk shows to have a couple of really big ones a year. He also wants to add more retail stores and gift shops. More necktie designs are likely to come in November and December. Wilson says attorneys are Wilson & Bow’s best customers – about 60 percent of the sales they do. To Wilson and his business partner, Robby Tyson, neckties are more than a fashion statement, and he is ready to design and produce custom neckwear for our local, regional and national schools, businesses and non-profits.

Visit www.wilsonandbow.com for examples of their neckties. All in-stock neckties are shipped within two to three days of purchase and can be gift wrapped upon request.