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My favorite tie brand

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Once upon a time, there was a tie brand. Founded in the 1920s and known as Holliday & Brown, it became, like Ballantyne in cashmere sweaters, a byword for British luxury in its field. However, it faded from view and, perhaps, from existence, until resuscitated and re-animated a short while ago.

I unfortunately don't know much about the early history of Holliday & Brown. Allegedly they were at the forefront of Swinging London in the 1960s, with a back catalog of stunning patterns which served as inspiration for certain Prada collections five or six years ago. Perhaps those models were like this one, a slim tie made for a men's shop in Manchester:

Of course, the Internet Gentleman inspecting this tie will find little that makes it stand out among quality ties: handmade, apparently - there's a slip stitch in there somewhere, but construction is not seven-fold. The keeper is the label. Tipping may be silk or it may be acetate. The pattern is interesting. As the inimitable Oscar Udeshi pointed out, H&B's details depended on what its retailer ordered.

Like certain other clothiers associated with the 1960s (the infamous Mr. Fish comes to mind), H&B came to locate itself on Conduit St in the Savile Row area. Now Richard James has his so-called Bespoke shop located there. I mentioned above that H&B came to be associated with ur-Britishness, and as such appropriated by the Italians. What else can explain this "napkin-width" tie with the monogram of Queen Elizabeth II, made for Ugolini in Florence , perhaps for her Jubilee?

Note the thick woven silk and the intricate pattern. Not an accident that Marinella used to state it acquired its silks from H&B and a defunct competitor, Sambrook Witting. Although neither were, to my knowledge, directly involved in weaving silks. Detail:

As Oscar said, H&B's creations depended on the orders retailers placed with them. The following is certainly one of their more bizarre, for the Jermyn Street shirtmakers Hilditch & Key, for whom they used to make handmade ties. That ended quite a while ago, but at "the once legendary" Paris boutique of Hildeetch, one can still find some very sober H&B madders and other conservative tie models, all likely 20 years old... Nothing like this, with a pattern of Hilditch & Key shirts. A tie so hideous it's amusing.

Throughout this time H&B made ties for select retailers such as Barneys New York and Cable Car Clothiers, including the quite charming woven motif below.

A visit to Cable Car in the early noughties and an inquiry provoked this reaction from their antediluvian salesperson: Holliday & Brown? They're out of business, over. Certainly the models they had on display looked like they had been there 20 years. By the end of the 1990s, rumors of H&B's demise were swirling about. The New York Times profiled a tie company named Hunters Savile Row, which was supposedly formed by two former employees of the defunct Holliday & Brown. Hunters sold some truly hideous ties (picture repeating "MBA" patterns) and is long out of business. In 2001 or 2002, British tiemaker Michelsons was sold to Mantero, an Italian silk company, and with it Holliday & Brown, which had come under its control. In acquiring H&B, Mantero acquired, apparently, its back catalog, which led to its appropriation by Prada for a line of ties, pocket squares, shirts and more. Below, a Prada "Special re-edition" of H&B. Notice the double tags and the truly bizarrely crappy machine edging.

Motifs were allegedly magnified from old patterns in the H&B archives, perhaps like the following -- an old H&B handkerchief. Note the machine stitching and the use of a sticker as a label..

post #2 of 36
I'm a big fan of the Holliday & Brown archives though there are not easy to find despite being "re-introduced" some years ago.
post #3 of 36
I love the look of those ties, very classy.
post #4 of 36
Great ties.

That Ugolini tie reminds me of a tie Hackett did issue on the occasion of the Queen's golden jubilee: golden crowns on a green field. (He also made up a Jubillee Tweed...)

post #5 of 36
I really like the first two.
post #6 of 36
H&B are probably my favorite tie brand now as well. I LOVE the 50 oz silk prints that H&B make. I have a few and they are literally bulletproof! When I untie the knot after a long day, the silk has virtually no creases whatsoever and looks just like new - amazing!
post #7 of 36
Thread Starter 
With the Prada appropriation -- and despite being mentioned in the press as a long-dead Carnaby Street (!) designer -- someone decided H&B was worth reviving. Barneys had long carried the line; now punchier motifs and materials surfaced. Below, a donegal tweed fringed tie, unlined. I found a Michelsons fringed tweed tie from the 1960s or 1970s in a Goodwill store a while back, so it does have some antecedent.

In addition, more retailers began to carry the H&B name -- including Saks and specialty retailers. The patterns included both prints and wovens, of quality similar to those of Marinella without its stupefying boredom. A certain amount of attention to detail began to be displayed as well -- self keepers, although not attached to the center seam, and silk tipping:

The yellow paisley print is of a brightness and beauty of color I haven't seen the likes of elsewhere:

Blue paisley weave:

H&B also, of course, continued to offer ties in other materials -- wools, 50 oz silks and cashmere:

Wool houndstooth, olive and burgundy, grey cashmere weave, and a quite wonderful thick light green cashmere tweed:

A few last British-made H&Bs...

Barneys Vespa weave, perhaps a harbinger of the brand's Italianization...

50 oz silk:

An unlined seven-fold tie made for the inimitable Oscar Udeshi, shortly before production shifted to Italy and H&B became simply a name...

Note the keeper tucked into the center seam -- I guess they can do it if ordered:

post #8 of 36
Very nice writeup. Here are some more pictures of recent H+B ties This one for Hilditch & Key. Here, ties A&D are made in Italy re-issues of classic H+B designs. Tie C is that amazing 50oz. silk and the only one of them made in England. The others say Made in Italy or nothing at all.
post #9 of 36
Thread Starter 
Several seasons after the Prada designs, Mantero announced that Holliday & Brown itself would be reissuing designs from its archives, launching its own "Special Re-editions". The quality of these "Special Re-editions" under its own name was higher than the Prada models, including, on the pocket squares, hand-rolled edges. Around this time, made in tags disappeared or started showing made in Italy.

Special Re-edition pocket squares, one quite similar to the Prada:

Linen-silk square, not a re-edition:

Printed wool pocket squares, made in England:

post #10 of 36
Thread Starter 
The H&K tie AngelicBoris posted may not be a H&B, despite what the ebay seller says. I haven't seen any confirmation that the H&K handmades from the last decade or so have been made by H&B.
post #11 of 36
Originally Posted by RJman View Post
The H&K tie AngelicBoris posted may not be a H&B, despite what the ebay seller says. I haven't seen any confirmation that the H&K handmades from the last decade or so have been made by H&B.
I bought that tie at retail from Century 21 in NY. Their ties are always tagged correctly and their H+B section features many different labels (such as Barney's). They usually deal directly with manufacturers.
post #12 of 36
Many of these are really fantastic.
post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 
Newer, Italian-made Holliday & Brown ties. They appear to retain the same quality of silk, although it's not clear to me that they would have continued to use Vanners and Adamley, which to my knowledge are two of the few remaining English silk weavers. Mantero, after all, is a silk weaver in Como itself. Some re-editions are more successful than others. The green berry-thing print is rather more hideous than anything else...

On the other hand, the Persian weave (their term, not mine) is quite gorgeous:

The flower weave is also like nothing else I've seen:

A very handsome medallion print, in a perfect light blue:

I note that they've started self-tipping, a useless detail but aesthetically pleasant.

Lastly, an unlined seven fold, with hand-stitched edging:

post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by AnGeLiCbOrIs View Post
I bought that tie at retail from Century 21 in NY. Their ties are always tagged correctly and their H+B section features many different labels (such as Barney's).

They usually deal directly with manufacturers.

Point taken. I saw the same one on ebay with the seller saying that it was H&B and wasn't sure if it was someone puffing up his sale. If it was in teh H&B section and a handmade H&K, then it very well may be H&B. I have a few handmade H&Ks and they're among my most handsome, best-made ties.
post #15 of 36
I have the "Persian Weave" in a different colorway.
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