As seen in The Financial Review:
Written by Michael Bailey on July 16 2017
Casual Friday has become every day for investment banker-turned entrepreneur Dean Jones, and he’s not alone as a new survey reveals the majority of professional men no longer wear a tie to work.”I’ve got a drawer full of ties at home, sitting there like a relic of my past life,” said Mr Jones, who in 2014 left a $300,000-a-year job at Deutsche Bank to focus on an online designer fashion rental business, GlamCorner, he’d started with his wife.
“I’ve gone from having to wear a tie every day to not buying one in four years, and I love it! No guy is ever going to tell you they feel more comfortable in a tie than without one.”
Faced with losing talent like Mr Jones to the unbuttoned and hoodied environs of start-ups or big tech employers like Google, investment banks have begun liberating the necks of his remaining colleagues – to a point.
JP Morgan introduced a business casual dress code globally last year, after chief executive Jamie Dimon made several public appearances with his top button undone.
“This is to reflect how the way we work is changing. More clients are dressing informally”, a JP Morgan Australia spokesperson told The Australian Financial Review.”However, employees use their best judgment depending on their roles and daily activities, for example, dressing to meet with a particular client.”
Barclays started allowing casual Fridays in 2013, and even those famously sharp dressers at Goldman Sachs have relaxed things a little, permitting computer engineers at the firm to no longer wear a tie, hence giving them one less reason to be poached by Facebook. More relaxed dress codes are having an impact in the men’s fashion marketplace.
Manrags, a subscription service launched in 2015 that sends men patterned socks and jocks made from Egyptian cotton, dumped plans to add ties to its offering after surveying 1200 of its members. The survey found only 25 per cent wore a tie to work every day, and 55 per cent not at all.
“It really caught me off guard,” Manrags co-founder Michael Elias said. “Our members are professional men, lawyers, consultants, doctors – people you expect to be wearing a tie. They’re telling us they’d rather use socks nowadays to put a splash of colour into their work attire.”
Real estate agents were most strongly represented among those still wearing a tie daily, Mr Elias revealed.
Sales figures for neckties are difficult to come by. A 2009 study by research firm NPD Group found annual tie sales in the US had dwindled to $US418 million, after peaking at $US1.8 billion in 1995. The trend is probably similar in Australia, said Tyrone Blode, national marketing manager for high-end menswear stores Henry Bucks. Over 10 years in menswear retailing, he had seen fewer and fewer young men making bulk purchases of ties.”Our older, bread-and-butter customers will still come in and buy a few ties along with their suits at the start of each season, but for guys in their 20s they are becoming a one-off, statement purchase for a special occasion,” Mr Blode said.
“Older guys still go with the blues and reds and stripes because they don’t have to prove anything, but when the younger guys buy a tie they want the big paisleys and bold colours.”Henry Bucks still always sold out its seasonal shipment of Stefano Rucci Italian silk ties, at $399 apiece, but Mr Blode admitted it took longer than it used to.
However what the tie manufacturers are losing from their traditional business they could be making up in sales of pocket squares, which Mr Blode observed were becoming popular among young professionals.