It’s a whole vibe in the world of textiles. Often shortened to “trad”, its appeal reaches across generations; from young people just discovering their passion for fashion, to elderly folks who have long since been charmed by its core accessory: the necktie.
Think of a good necktie: the silky texture, its comfy heft, and durability--
A perfect combination of tried and true skill and data.
Is the business casual world leaving your ties to gather dust in the closet?
All the more reason to come here and take a look at these pieces.
“TORAW is where we’ve collected the coolest pieces we can make now,” says Taro Watanabe, the third-generation owner of Watasho Orimono, swelling with pride. The “TORA” comes from the “traditional” neckties that are the company’s specialty. Mr. Watanabe then made an anagram of his first name and added a W from the pronunciation of “Taro”, resulting in the brand name “TORAW”. This brand and its pieces represent Mr. Watanabe’s unabashed pride and joy.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Mr. Watanabe immediately inherited the family business. He entered the company while working as a salaryman for several years. He then spent ten years learning the art of weaving at the atelier under his father’s tutelage. Though he was told to “just weave,” something told him it’d be pointless if they couldn’t sell any of it - an instinct cultivated by his years as a salaryman. Hataorimachi’s “If you build it, they will come” era had long since passed, and its textile scene needed fresh new air.
He convinced his father to create their own brand, and together, father and son searched for Watasho Orimono’s unique forte. One component of said forte was in the thickness of the fabric. Since neckties are tied at the time of wearing, it was impossible to avoid creasing at the knot. However, Watasho Orimono’s high-density fabric is made to leave no creases after wearing. Mr. Watanabe tells us, “Ties are easy to fasten because they’re slightly thick. It’s not a case of ‘the thicker, the better.’” The skill cultivated by the father combined with the son’s fresh perspective to create TORAW, their flagship brand.
The 022 series is TORAW’s most recommended collection, with a wide stripe patterning sewn together from two different fabrics. The brown colorway is a particularly hot seller because it’s easy to pair with any outfit. This necktie used to actually be sold as two separate patterns outside the TORAW brand, but since the two patterns were well-received by customers, they were combined into a single series - the 022.
TORAW ties are not pre-designed. Watasho Orimono studies the customer reception of the various items they sell and based on that they create new designs. The TORAW lineup is the collective result of countless bouts of trial and error. While analyzing customer demand, they notice that what the artisans like doesn’t always sell, and vice versa. All weavers make ties that are easy to buy, and ties that aren’t. They design the coloring, the angling of the stripes, and the width of the tie itself to ensure they’re easy on customers’ eyes, without forgetting to sprinkle in a little eccentricity. Mr. Watanabe creates ties based on that data. He says: “Unlike in the era of OEMs, my own surname is part of the Watasho Orimono name. And that’s what makes me want to sell products I can be proud of.”
Necktie trends used to come in semi-predictable cycles: Plain, then striped, then patterned, before looping back to plain styles. However, necktie usage decreased thanks to the advent of business casual attire and the general diversification of jobs, and the cycle began to break as a result. This is why Mr. Watanabe collects his own data. Neckties created from actual dialogue with customers tend to actually sell. His neckties doubtlessly embody that fact.
Also, Mr. Watanabe adds pieces to the TORAW line only after wearing a hand-made prototype for a year or more to confirm if he would want to wear that design forever. The brand attracts so many fans because each tie is carefully and stoically hand-selected. “You won’t find a better tie,” says one TORAW customer. Aficionados visit his atelier at Shimoyoshida looking for an unbeatable tie; one that’s silky soft, satisfyingly hefty, and with a little eccentricity to spice up its “trad” appeal.
Neckties will only continue becoming more optional as time passes and business casual becomes the norm. Mr. Watanabe only says “That trend is not an incorrect one,” because neckties shouldn’t be mandatory, but rather something you look forward to wearing. And that is exactly what makes TORAW designs so special.