Talking Ties with Sean Crowley
On a sunny, late afternoon on Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue, the promise of spring just around the corner, we take a stroll among the brownstones with Sean Crowley, long-time friend of Drake’s and the proprietor of Crowley Vintage, whose by-appointment, treasure trove of a showroom is just down the road in Dumbo.
If you’re after Scottish tweed, antique trunks, genuine Westernwear, rare Ivy, or an esoteric bit of militaria, then Sean is your man. He’s also a man in possession of, by his own estimates, 2,000 ties,“although I probably only wear about 20 of them,” which makes him well placed to share a few thoughts on the place of neckwear in a contemporary man’s wardrobe.
“Why do I love ties?” says Sean, not breaking stride as he gives the question some thought. “It’s funny, because ties were, until very recently, compulsory for most men in a professional setting. They weren’t really optional, but obviously now they are. There are very few jobs that require a tie today, but I still sell a ton of them in the shop - mostly classic styles - because a certain kind of guy is wearing them because he loves them, not because he needs to wear them.
“It’s not a uniform requirement, which in a way makes them more special.”
“They’re also fun to collect,” he adds. “They’re like a small, accent on an outfit. It’s a relatively affordable luxury, and an easy pick-up and addition to tailoring. When I was younger I was obsessed with this idea of ‘good taste,’ everything had to add up. But now if I have a tie with flamingos, or parachutes, or whatever, I think ‘fuck it,’ I’m not trying to win the menswear achievement award. A bit of juxtaposition is interesting sometimes.”
“I think the thing that I find the most striking about menswear today, and ties are part of that, as well as tailored clothing more broadly, is the difference between want versus need. Men now mostly work in environments where you can wear a sweatshirt to work, but some still choose to wear tailoring. They don’t have to wear it, but they want to wear it.”
“Finally, I personally like the way I feel when I wear one… and that should be the most important thing when it comes to personal style. Does it make you feel good?”