Sam Carlisle, founder of Augustus Hare ties shines some light on his refined neckware
Article by Rupert Watkins
A self-confessed tie fanatic, Sam Carlisle founded Augustus Hare in 2012. Having dabbled in tie design throughout his time at university, Sam was keen to combine the very best of English traditions – innate elegance with a sense of the interesting and the stylishly eccentric. Tapping into both the return to formality in men’s fashion and the current high desirability of the “Made in England” idea, the bulk of Sam’s turnover is in wholesale. Currently Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, Swaine Adeney and Susannah Hall tailors in Clerkenwell stock Augustus Hare in London. There are also two concessions in the US and outlets in Edinburgh and Cambridge. The company’s online presence is somewhat more recent, but this is an area that is of increasing importance for the brand.
The range spans from knitted ties through to heavy, printed madder silk ties. Sam has four types of printed tie: printed wool challis, 36 ounce twill, 36 ounce madder and, set to be introduced this season, a 40 ounce madder silk. This writer is a huge fan of madder silk ties, and it is always pleasing to see a company deal in what is now becoming a rarity. These ties and pocket squares are absolutely top notch and, retailing at £89, are a complete steal. The printed and woven silk ties come in an array of stylish and slightly quirky designs.
Despite the fashion move towards narrower ties, Augustus Hare ones are eight centimetres wide (traditionally English ties are 8 ½ centimetres across) so they remain conservative in proportion, if not always in pattern. The biggest area of growth has been in the firm’s knitted ties. These have grown continuously over the past couple of years and currently account for 60 per cent of Augustus Hare’s sales.
In an era when ties have perhaps have lost some of their sartorial and social significance, Sam finds his new customers tend to be in their late 30s. Thanks to changing fashions, Sam sees many of his customers buying for use as “social ties” – for dinner parties, cocktail dos and the like. He notes that this is especially prevalent in feedback from US and European customers with their preppy and bella figura sartorial traditions respectively. It is an evolving trend in this country: with the tie still conservatively linked to the workplace here, many senior professionals still turn to Hermès or Ferragamo for their business neckwear and are still only tentatively wearing them as smart casual attire. Sam also feels that many men still do not give the tie the attention and financial outlay it deserves, too often buying in bulk for narrow work purposes.
From the very beginning, Augustus Hare ties have been produced at the Stephen Walters factory in Sudbury, Suffolk. A ninth generation-run firm dating back to the 1720s, it is one of a couple in the small country town that bestrides English silk manufacturing. For their printed silks, the brand uses a small factory in Macclesfield which, again, has a pedigree stretching back to the 18th Century. The ties are all finished in London.
Although Augustus Hare focuses on ties and pocket squares, the brand has branched out carefully into other gentlemen’s accessories. A small range of cufflinks has been available online since last year. It was through word of that they sourced a silversmiths, and the resulting cufflinks are excellent. Traditionally oval in shape with tasteful yet distinctive enamel designs, they are hall-marked sterling silver and, at approximately £225, are affordable yet also a worthwhile moderately indulgent investment.
Working off this well-formed collection, Sam plans to consolidate and organically grow his core product range, and is currently pursuing a collaboration with Fortnum& Mason.
Augustus Hare ties certainly dare to cheekily, nattily and subversively buck prevailing trends, and Riddle certainly recommends the sartorially inquisitive to head in its direction.