Ties to Die For

Uncovering a neckwear goldmine at Waliou Vintage Ties on the bustling corner of the Square Mile

Article by Lee Osborne courtesy of his sartorialee blog

Meet Waliou, purveyor of one of the finest collections of vintage ties known to man. Hands gesturing, smile beaming beneath the brim of his trilby, he cuts quite a dash against the kaleidoscopic backdrop of his stall in London’s Old Spitalfields Market.

One of the joys of being a men’s style blogger is running in to guys who share the same passion as you, and Waliou is one such kindred spirit. When I first set eyes on his lavish assortment of silk neckwear I could scarcely believe what I was seeing – I was as spellbound as a kid in a sweet shop. It was tie nirvana. Catching the eye of Hoxton hipsters and City bankers alike, it’s a veritable crème de la crème of cravat creativity – big hitters like Balenciaga, Chanel, Christian Dior, Daks, Fendi, Lanvin, Missoni, Nina Ricci, Oscar de la Renta, Trussardi, Ungaro, Valentino and YSL barely scratch the surface of such a vast offering. And no two visits will ever be the same, you can bet on that.

If ever you needed the old adage “they don’t make them like they used to,” reinforced, just feel the quality of some of these silken yarns. For me it’s not just about Waliou’s wares; he effuses a raffish charm and a passion in his eye. He’s the kind of guy arbiter of style Hardy Amies had in mind in his ABC of Men’s Fashion, “A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them.” And he certainly knows how to rock a neckerchief. I caught up with him recently and got the lowdown on how it all started…

Where did you grow up?
In Togo and Nigeria in West Africa.

How did you first get in to tailoring?
My brother has a tailor in Togo, who has made clothes for me since I was 10 years old. I believe we don’t really dress up only as a cultural custom, but as an expression of our personality and of our mood. Clothing is about feeling free and having fun. Transferring emotions and sharing different thoughts with others. It’s about diversity and social integration. It’s an art of life.

“I do wear designer clothes but not for the season”

Where do you source the ties?
While I source the majority of my ties from a regular supplier, others are furnished on holidays around Europe and sometimes charity shops. Some of the ties comes from my father and brother.

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Describe your style.
My style is more personal – a fusion of punk and dandy. I do wear designer clothes but not for the season. My favourite designers are Dries Van Noten for his dandy creativity and Hedi Slimane (of Saint Laurent Paris) for his punk-infused tailoring. Make your choice and have the confidence to dress the way you like. Enjoy the freedom of combining vintage with any other cloth. I do and it makes me happy; it’s not about being a trendsetter more a way of life. riddle_stop 2


Catch Waliou at London’s Old Spitalfields Market every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday 10 – 5:30pm / Horner Square, Spitalfields, London E1 6EW

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