It came as a surprise to both me and Eliot Payne that Siri doesn’t seem to care about bow ties. We asked her if she thought they were dapper and she answered, “I think different.” Ugh. S@#t Siri says, I suppose. But if you ask me, I think they're pretty dope. And if you ask Eliot, they’re a way of life. He owns and operates with his business partner Ayodamola "Ayo" Okunseinde, an artist and fellow bow tie lover, a business called Accoutre. “We make bow ties,” said Eliot, who showed up to our sit-down at Mio with one he made for himself. Fashioned from an old tie he found in a second-hand shop, Eliot gave this vintage flowered fabric new life. “Currently, this one’s my favorite,” he said. He owns about a week’s worth more, all handmade by him except for one. So, care to join the neck decoration revolution? Let Eliot guide you:
SCOUT: How did this passion for bow ties begin?
ELIOT: The very first seed was planted a couple of years ago when I saw this guy on the Metro who was looking very dapper and he had this orange, pin-dot bow tie and orange is my favorite color. I thought, “Man, that’s really bright and nice.” I love bright things. And I never thought I could pull off the bow tie, but then I started seeing on some Tumblrs and menswear blogs and started thinking, “I really like it.” I just really like the look of it.
SCOUT: Tucker Carlson?
ELIOT: Let me be clear. I feel like there are two sorts of people who are wearing a bow tie. Somebody who is über-conservative, white shirt, crisp bow tie, then there are people who are a little more edgy, people who are just a little more flashy. I’m in the second category. Obviously. I’m wearing a magenta sweater with a yellow plaid shirt underneath.
SCOUT: Thank you for the clarity. Moving on, do you remember your first bow tie?
ELIOT: I still have it. I got it at the flea market at Eastern Market. Some vendor had picked up a bunch of stuff from an estate sale and there was this old, small brown bowtie with little dots on it. For $5. I thought, this was the time to try it.
SCOUT: And I’m going to assume it wasn’t clip-on…
ELIOT: No, no. Hell no.
SCOUT: I’m just saying it sounds more difficult to tie a bow tie than to clip one on.
ELIOT: I learned from YouTube. There are diagrams out there, but they’re really confusing. It’s really not that bad. I wasn’t very good at tying them at first, but now, most of the time I can even put it on without a mirror.
SCOUT: OK, so now that we’ve covered the basics, what’s up with Accoutre? How did you go from simply liking the bow tie to actually making them?
ELIOT: I am a cheap bastard. I really am. Here’s the thing with bow ties, although they’re gaining popularity now, I think, there’s till not much demand, so most of your bow ties are not cheap. Ties are all over the place, there’s just not that kind of supply of bow ties. For the really cool ones they run about $90. So, after that I started Googling and I ran into some guy’s blog who suggested making your own. That really appealed to me. I’m into DIY. I cut my own hair.
SCOUT: Really? I must say you’ve got a good haircut.
ELIOT: Thank you.
SCOUT: But back to the bow ties…
ELIOT: Around the same time I saw this blog, my girlfriend had bought a sewing machine, so I was reading this and there was a sewing machine right there, so I went out and bought some fabric. I got some cheap cotton to practice on and then something that was a little nicer, so that when I got the balls to do the real thing, I’d have it.
SCOUT: And voila! A business was born?
ELIOT: Yeah, I’d been making a few here and there, and then even commissioned one for my friend who was going to a Hawaiian-themed party. But then I was out one night at the Queen Vic and I met this guy Ayo, which kind of was the kick in the ass I needed to really get going. He was wearing this crazy-ass bow tie and me being a lover of bow ties I went up to him and started talking to him. We both live on H Street and we had a bunch of other stuff in common. He said he wanted a custom bow tie for an event he was going to, so I agreed to make it and as we continued talking we finally decided to partner officially two months ago to create Accoutre.
SCOUT: So what’s the future hold for your bow ties?
ELIOT: We’ve got some really cool ideas, some crazy ideas. One of the things we’re looking to do because Ayo is really interested in interactive garments is to eventually start using some conductive fibers to see what we can do with that. The main thing is, we don’t want them to be your traditional bow ties. We want something a little bit more edgy and avant garde.
It’s bow tie art! Perhaps you should jump on the bow tie train. Get started over at Accoutre and follow Eliot who tweets often about bow tie happenings in the universe.