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Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Tyranny Of New York Choice

I arrived in New York expecting to find that every store that I went to see would lay down the red carpet and beg me to stock my bow ties in their store. Period. I did not expect anything other than this because I had so many New York customers, so many American blog readers, so much enthusiasm from that nation which has no limit as to what can be achieved. I believed, like Americans believe, in the American dream. That if you have something unique, if you have a gift, then Americans will buy into it and build you up until you too fly around in your own jet, with your women and your benjamins....

The truth, which is often a lot more realistic and less erotic, is that you have to sweat to make it in New York. Sweat harder than you would ever dream about. Everyone sweats in this city. Everyone has a price and everyone is looking to make it. From the moment I stepped off the plane I noted that everyone was courteous and helpful - for a price. I noticed that anything could be done for you at any time of the day - for a price. Add another observation here and then add a hyphen and then 'price' and so on and so on. In the end, what appeared from the outset to be a glorious titanic structure was nothing more than a concrete heaving jungle which ran itself on almost the exact same natural laws of survival. What I was extremely surprised about was something I had read about many years before - the idea that there was tyranny in choice. When I first heard about the tyranny of choice I did not quite understand what it meant. I thought that the idea that there was so much choice was so tyrannical that it gave you analysis paralysis and that you could not navigate your way through the decision making process. What I now understand is that the tyranny of choice is more likely to refer to the fact that with increased choice you are likely to receive less utility from any given choice. This to me summed up the entire state of New York in many ways. The idea that people were confronted with so much choice on a daily level, from the type of pretzels they ate to the kind of cream cheese spread they put on their bagel, meant that in the end they were mostly dissatisfied with the decisions they did make.

The same, of course, could be said of bow ties. By the end of my New York sojourn I was almost ready to give up my pursuit of making bow ties. In the face of heavy competition, Americans love to compete. But for myself, as it has always been, in the face of competition I like to close up shop and go somewhere else. So many of the designs I had done in the last two years were in the collections of bow tie makers from Sean John right through to Turnbull and Asser. And, whilst on the first day at Saks 5th Avenue I was quite sure that I made some of the best bow ties in the world, by the end of the trip I was no longer as confident. The range of choice was so large for the Americans that I wondered where on earth I might fit into their world of bow ties. My bow ties were almost 5 times the amount of a bow tie from Macys by Sean John. Whilst made in China they still seemed like nice bow ties. My bow ties were better quality than the Hermes one I bought and less expensive, but as a New Yorker said to me 'yeah, but you don't have the name or the fit out'. Then there were my favourites - the bow ties of Charvet which I always always admire. Then Turnbull and Asser, Brooks Brothers, Thom Browne for Brooks Brothers, J Linberg, Bruno Cucinelli, Ralph Lauren, Ferragamo and many many more. The choice was endless. And in that alone I realised that I had a big task in 2013. In order to make sure that my customers are happy - I am going to limit the number of bow ties we release this year. Because, just as I felt after I left New York, there was a certain level of anxiety associated with the choices I did make.

Regardless, take a look at the bows I did add to my private collection this year. I think you will enjoy seeing what I saw.

From top to bottom. Turnbull and Asser, Sean John, Hermes, Macy's house brand, Charvet, Turnbull And Asser and Brooks Brothers. 

1 comment:

  1. I've never thought about New York in that way, good written. Best regards from Cracow.