Andrew Payne/General Knot & Co
We first heard of The General Knot & Co after stopping a gentleman on the street and demanding to know where he'd bought his printed pink neck tie, knowing we simply had to get one for every fella on our holiday shopping list. Turns out it was the handiwork of Andrew Payne, a designer based out of Bedford, N.Y., who uses exclusively deadstock fabrics and American manufacturers to create utterly unique pieces of neck wear, no two of which are ever alike due to the limited nature of the materials. We caught up with Andrew to discuss his penchant for vintage, love for local craftsmanship, and what he thinks of all those bow-tied ladies on the runway this season.
Why neckties in particular?
Personally, I love ties, and always have. The fabrics, colors and textures are seemingly never-ending.
As far as choosing between other products to create, I’ve designed a lot of different products during my career—sweaters, outerwear, graphics, knitwear, and shirts, but fabrics and color have always been my love and the tie just lends to them so well. With ties, I get to design the often one focal point of a guy’s wardrobe. Guys love to have an interesting tie as an accent atop their denim, shirts, jackets, etc — I know I do. And for men who wear suits, it’s absolutely the personality of the whole look.
Where and how are General Knot ties produced?
We are very luckily situated closely to our factories in both New York and Vermont. All of our current product is made in these two factories and will always be U.S.A. made. I bring all of our designs and fabrics to our factories myself. This personal connection is essential to building an understanding of our design’s concept and the trust that makes for a healthy long term relationship. It’s hard to adequately express how fortunate we feel to be working with such fantastic craftsmen.
Tell us about your design process. Who comes up with what? Where do you look for inspiration?
Coming from years of designing within a corporate structure at places like Ralph Lauren and various denim companies, the GK & Co. design process is incredibly refreshing. Working in mostly vintage fabric, there’s only so much planning one can do. The fabrics are upwards of 60-70 years old and are what they are. The exact planning of palettes and merchandising plans of pattern assortments happily goes out the window. I find the best way to approach each season is continually search out the most beautiful and interesting fabrics with the hope of each pattern finding its ideal home down the road. My design professor in school always said, “Look at your fabrics and listen carefully. They’ll tell you what they want to be.”