Monday, July 28, 2014
The Curious Case of the Vintage Tie Cloth - Passaggio Cravatte
Admittedly, I have not been on StyleForum in some time, so I was unaware of the ruckus that has been going on concerning Gianni Cerrutti and his bespoke ties made under the Passaggio Cravatte label. For those of you who might not remember, I did an interview with Gianni a while back about the company. He was also kind enough to send a few ties to review (you can find a link to the interview here and the product review here.
The recent criticism seems to center around the claims by Gianni to certain customers that certain silks that were being provided were "vintage" fabrics, apparently meaning that they were at least 20 years old. Many customers relied on those statements when making a purchase, and were primarily interested in particular offerings because of the provenance of certain silks. As a result, these customers were willing to pay the stated price for what they believed were bespoke ties from vintage fabrics.
Without getting too much into the specifics (you can get a summary of the basic claims here, here, and here), I can understand why someone would be annoyed if they were given the impression that the silks were older than they actually are, or if the patterns were done using more recent ink-jet techniques. For me, personally, when I was choosing the silks for the samples, I was less concerned with "vintage" versus "modern" silks I was actually more interested in the patterns themselves (i.e. which ones caught my eye), as well as seeing in person what Gianni described as the original 7-fold style of tie-making. So the vintage aspect was not that important to me then, although if I recall correctly, both fabrics that I received were described as "vintage." I don't recall asking for clarification as to what that meant specifically.
As I pointed out at the time, the ties were complementary so my aim was to review the ordering process as well as the finished product. Personally, I still think the ties that I received represent wonderful craftsmanship with interesting fabrics.That being said, if someone is purchasing what they have been told is a tie made from "vintage" fabric, it should in fact be made from vintage fabric, regardless of whether that was a minor or major selling point to the customer. When I last checked the relevant threads at the various forums, it seemed that many people were still waiting for Gianni's response - hopefully, he will respond to these claims and clarify the provenance of the fabrics in question to everyone's satisfaction. I will try to reach out to him in the next few days for clarification on these issues, as well.
Apart from these issues, I thought it might also be helpful to report on how the ties have held up after a few wears. I have probably worn each tie approximately 5-10 times since I received them, and my issues are probably in line with the problems that Simon Crompton described last year (see here). Specifically, the navy grenadine fabric is quite delicate and probably too thin due to the absence of a lining. As a result, the fabric tends to twist after repeated knotting. Of course, I was the one who requested the unlined seven fold structure for that particular fabric, but hopefully these types of issues would be brought to the customer's attention during the formative stages of the tie-making process.
There were other minor issues which, at this price, should be mentioned. The keeper was probably positioned too high on both ties - it didn't interfere with the tie knot, as was Simon's experience, but it was too high to actually keep the thinner end of the tie in place. Also of note was that the tie was essentially open along the back seam. This was helpful in viewing the folds and the inner composition of the tie, but the cloth tended to spread as the tie was knotted. I actually had my mother (a seamstress for the Joffrey Ballet once upon a time) pin the back, which solved that problem easily enough.