Bow Ties Sydney, Australia - Le Noeud Papillon - Specialists In Self Tying Bow Ties
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017
A few weeks ago I was with a good friend of mine who quoted Warren Buffet from a recent documentary on his life, which piqued my interest.
I am not that much into financial stuff despite a degree in agricultural economics and a basic understanding of commodities etc, nor do I watch the financial markets closely or talk about it over dinner. The thing that interests me about money is how people attain it, what they do with it once they have it and I am fascinated by people who manage to manipulate other people to work for them in order to make more money. That might sound simple and stupid - but to me that is quite remarkable - that one human being might be able to grow a company through sales that is strong enough to convince another human being to come into that business and work for a wage, possibly to take some equity in the business and that they might go on to have a company with thousands of employees by the end of their lifetime. Personally I have a hard enough time motivating myself, so this is particularly of interest to me and I hold these people in high esteem.
Perhaps this was why I wanted to know more about Warren Buffet and how he managed to convince a whole bunch of people to work for and invest with and in him. And it was fantastic to see how he did it, because it made much more sense after the documentary.
In my head I imagined someone that goes to work in an office where hundreds of people dart around and the thought of all that pressure just makes me cringe with anxiety - but what we see is Warren Buffet in a quiet office with 36 employees not that far from where he lives in Omaha, a quaint little drive from his home via the McDonalds drive-thru .
One would expect that sitting on all those billions of dollars you'd be sweating all day long but Buffet is relaxed and reads the papers, gets himself a coke, takes a few phone calls.
I just love this guy and I can understand the cult that has been built around his persona.
And his secret to success, which he repeats many times over during the course of the documentary, is the nature of compound interest over an extended period of time ( which is also explained well by Dr. Albert A. Bartlett here) and the fact that he has kept his expenses down. The second part is very much inspirational for me than the first. Watching Buffet live a simple - and perhaps comparative to his contemporary billionaire cohorts - frugal existence, is quite exciting and somewhat paradoxical.
For Buffet the accumulation of wealth was no more than a game that some other kid might play on Xbox which he played very well over the course of his lifetime. But the game was all about making or at least relying on human beings to consume. Without consumption and in many respects, over-consumption, Buffet would not have had such a great result from the game. But in order to play the game better, he himself made sure that he never fell victim to consumption. He avoided the pitfalls of the 'hamster wheel' of life, ensuring that his personal costs were at a minimum.
It is nice to know that Warren Buffet is one of the richest men in the world - he seems to be the right fit of character for that role. He carries with him a sort of Bernie Sanders-esque frugality about him from an era that understood what financial hardship was all about. But the game is what I don't understand and will never understand - the endless pursuit of numbers that sit in bank accounts like a score card.
The one thing I loved about Steve Jobs was he had one sole aim for his profits in the early days, and that was to make better products. Make a profit so you can make better products, to get more sales, to get more profit to make another round of better products. Whereas, it seems if Buffet's first wife had not died, the purpose of his money seems to have been nothing more than a game.
If you have a spare hour, watch this documentary on this remarkable human being.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Friday, March 17, 2017
Firstly, there is the patience and time that goes into one bolt of say 10 metres that will make up one kimono. It is a process that has artisans using a rice resist in pen like forms and using stencils to create the basic artwork. Then comes the dyeing which is done in house from scratch with sponges and brushes. Once this has been done, the silk has to be steamed three times then washed in fresh water (often from natural springs that run underneath the factory). Then and only then when the dye is set and the resist washed away, does the artisan apply genuine gold leaf and silver.
It is almost sacrilegious to cut these silks up into bow ties if they didn't come out so beautifully. And I am very proud of them, they merge a number of skill sets, dyed silk and silk painting, the art of a jacquard loom and silk weaving and finally the skills of my seamstress and to a small extent my cutting, selection and design skills. But enough about me - all I did was connect the dots.
Anyone can make a bow tie - and I mean that - it wouldn't take more than a day or two to work out how to make one - you can go to a number of haberdashery stores in Sydney and get a private lesson for the morning and you will be mostly on your way. But these bow ties are something special, they are a search for something unique and different and the refinement of one product over nearly ten years now.
I hope you like them as much as I do.
Don't be alarmed by the title of this post - I was told it was good for SEO. At the end of every sale I like to reward myself with a little bit of blog time indulgence. I am aware that barely anyone reads blogs these days now that everyone important is on Instaspam but I am compelled to keep up my blog because it's not all about the money and this truly was the way that a young brand could emerge in a digital era without having to sell my concept to venture capitalists or loan sharks (that is intended humour).
So this time my indulgence was a shoe restoration which I haven't done in some time and I wish to impart some wisdom on all my blog readers with spare time and a passion for good shoes.
My advice is this - spend some time on Ebay and especially watch the selections from Ascot Shoes' store on Ebay as well as the store run by Elizabeth Varnish called Shoes Of Distinction and another Ebayer caller Thomas Henry Shoes (or on instagram as @4shoeboy. These three stores are excellent at picking up rare and unwanted English, Italian, Romanian (St Crispins) and Hungarian shoes (think of the brand Vass) . To say they are unwanted is a misnomer. They are either acting as agents, acting on behalf of people who no longer want a pair of shoes, on behalf of shoe shops shedding stock or else on behalf of shoe factories who need to get rid of seconds and thirds and shoes that were never picked up or never sold. That's a lot of excuses to have shoes, so you can imagine, they constantly have new ranges of shoes on their sites.
Personally these days I like to look for light coloured leather shoes that somebody else overlooked because they wouldn't wear the colour. Such was the case with the Barker Black shoes below that started life hard against the grain of trend and fashion. I had always wanted a pair of Barker Black shoes to work with because I had reached out to them when I first began writing the blog to see if they would give me a free pair or discounted at least and they promptly told me they weren't interested.
Patience and Ebay are a virtue and I managed to secure a pair from Ascot Shoes and I began yesterday the first iteration to give them a new lease of life.
I stripped them with acetone and alcohol and I spent the first day giving them a marine blue and black toe cap and heel. I am using beaver hair brushes these days and I don't bother with any other kind. The beaver seems to glide on the dye so naturally and with such an elegant brush stroke. I also found this time around that the quality of the Saphir dyes is so much more superior to Feibling and the leather dye brands you can find in Sydney. There is a viscosity and depth to the colour as it goes on that seems so much more superior and tends not to leave that awful metallic shade that sometimes appears after a dyeing session with cheaper dyes.
All in all it took me about two hours to get to the first stage of waxing and with a pomade. From what they were (colour unwearable) to what they are now, is chalk and cheese. I have gone for dark blue and black because I would like to wear them with a navy suit and jeans and have a mid shine on them to make them not so ostentatious that they would attract too much attention but blue enough that they stand out from the black shoes being worn by others on the street.
I will keep you updated as I progress but needless to say this is a work in progress and really for the small amount of money you pay to set up your dyes and brushes compared with the massive savings you can get by shopping websites like Ascot Shoes on Ebay (provided you know your size well, especially the width of your foot), well to my mind, it's a no brainer.
Saphir products can be bought from Ebay too though I recommend places like Exquisite Trimmings in London and The Hanger Project in Dallas. The most expensive part will be your time but if you love being creative and if you need something to take your mind off the other shit you have to deal with in your life, try taking up shoe restoration, dyeing and polishing. It's almost as good as cooking....
|Light coloured leathers like these tones often sell poorly and are optimal for home dyeing. I recommend Saphir dyes and a beaver brush. Most of the technique can be found by goodling patina restoration on you tube or the web.|
|An initial beaver brush stroke using marine blue by Saphir - a dye that is superior in my experience to other brands I have worked with.|
|This is the first iteration, the desired finish will see the shoes being worn with a navy suit or jeans.|
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
People, customers, friends, enemies, frenemies - have all warned me about my sales. "You can't keep giving customers discounts" they'll say in various forms and anecdotes. One arrived yesterday from someone close to me who said "I was having coffee with Nicholas SoandSo and he told me he never likes to go to any coffee shop where they have a loyalty card 'buy ten coffees get one free', because in his mind, if the coffee is good enough he's happy to pay each time and it cheapens the brand if they offer it" .
The thing is, probably everyone that speaks to me is right. I am not denying that giving discounts continuously is probably harming my 'brand' but to be honest, I don't care. Every time we get stock out of the store and cash into the account I am free to explore new silks, new designs, new energy. If it weren't for cash none of our recent Yuzen bow ties customers would have received the 18k rose gold plated 925 sterling silver clips - mostly because I would have been too tight to throw money at a new project like that. You probably wouldn't have seen any Yuzen silks on the website either because who would explore Yuzen when the only bow ties that sell are black ones and polka dots - if you believe your detractors.
If I believed my detractors I wouldn't be making bow ties - that's for sure. "It's such a small market", "who buys your stuff", "I never knew you could make money out of bow ties" .
Let me tell you something, I've had a gut full of my detractors - the real, the barely perceptible and the wholly fictional that you create in your own head. Negative thinking has it's merits but if you want to step outside of the confines of what is 'de rigeur' you need to keep exploring and pushing yourself long after everyone has told you to stop. You have to stay fresh and curious and really you can't do that sitting still.
We are all just going around the one time - I do believe that in my current state of knowledge and experience (unless my maker will reveal himself and assure me there is life after death). And who is to say whether the way I have carved out my niche is right or wrong. When my bow ties sell at their RRP I figure I must have done something right. And when others eventually sell at a discounted rate I know they mustn't be as wonderful as I first thought or at the very least, not in customer's consideration on that day. But it forces all parties to play their part and it frees me up to get on with the show. Perhaps I am the biggest idiot in the menswear accessories business - perhaps I will have to learn a hard lesson in life at some point - but for now, I just want to keep moving.
Enjoy the end of the sale. You are allowing silk to be converted to cash to be converted into more silk and the exploration of more designs.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
What is more of a luxury than bespoke? Something that cannot be reproduced again. Something that is a moment in time and space and then is gone. Such was the case when we stumbled upon a cache of Yuzen silks. Yuzen is an art form of dyeing and painting silks that is derived from Kyoto. Principally it is a way by which Japanese artisans use a rice based resist to use silk fabric as though it were a canvas. Adding in the use of stencils, artisans have an ability to shade and graduate colour which creates some of the most striking silk prints I have even seen and certainly this kind of silk cannot be found in the digitally printed and screen printed worlds of silk.
The system was developed by Yuzensai Miyazaki, a silk printer and dyer who perfected the system in the Edo period roughly 300 years ago in the Kaga district.
Initially these types of silks were used in kimonos for aristocrats and the rich but over time kimonos in elaborate silks became more ubiquitous. The base fabric is woven in Japan from Japanese sericulture, whilst the dyeing is done in multiple cities, however, the most famed city is Kyoto.
The silk is first rolled out so that the artist can draw the basic design onto the silk roll either by hand or by stencil. Once the silk is drawn, a second layer of rice paste resist (which is created by boiling rice until you derive a starch paste) is drawn over the top. This will create the lines where the dye does not penetrate and allows the brushing on of dye over the top. Once the dye has been painted on the silk is set by steaming it three times in chambers where the silk is hung on pegs. After the silk has set it is then washed in very cold spring or river waters which flow through the areas where the silk is processed.
All in all this is a very labour intensive process but the silks speak for themselves, literally jumping out at you and visually dazzling your senses.
We have merged these silks with our own woven jacquards, allowing you to have two bow ties in one and giving you a complementing silk to the chosen Yuzen. Because Yuzen is dyed on a standard 36cm roll and where these designs are elaborate and long, we have to set aside each silk to choose the exact placement and hope to harvest one to two bow ties from each piece of Yuzen.
Come and have a look. They are not cheap, but then, neither is good art. And as Oscar Wilde once said, "one should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art".