Neckties made from wood? – a fun new trend in Japanese fashion
Making an impression can be very important, and there is one new Japanese men’s fashion accessory that is sure to turn heads and start conversations, wherever it is worn – a hand-carved, flexible wooden neckie!
I don’t know about you, but I had never seen or heard of a necktie made out of wood. At first the idea seems preposterous. I imagined a big heavy block of wood hanging from a guy’s neck, and thought, that has got to be the strangest idea that I have ever heard of. But when I actually saw the “Nokutie” from traditional woodworking company Nokutare, I realized, maybe this idea will go somewhere. It turns out that the craftsmen at Nokutare have thought of all the problems with the idea of a wooden necktie, and instead of giving up on the concept, found ways to solve the problems and create a surprisingly attractive, practical fashion accessory.
First, a bit of background. The Hida region where Nokutare is located is a mountainous area of northern Gifu Prefecture, where Furukawa and Takayama are located. For centuries, the region had been famous for its high quality timber and the skills of the local carpenters.
Hideo Shiotani, the founder of Nokutare, comes from a family of carpenters, and has continued the family and regional woodworking tradition in new and innovative ways that include wooden headphones, wooden vases, wooden clocks, and wooden desk and cellphone accessories.
But perhaps the most interesting way is his Nokutie. The concept is “wearing warmth”, wearing real wood carved from a particular tree, that connects you to nature in a deep, sustainable way, while also being whimsical, fun, and creative.
In Japanese business settings, and probably in much of the rest of the world, a tie is an important way to convey something about yourself. Men don’t have a lot of accessories in the way that women’s fashion does, but a tie is one of the exceptions, ranging from conformist, to a touch of color, to all kinds of novelty and creative colors. But until now, all ties were made out of fabric! Of course that seems obvious. But coming from a woodworking background, Hideo decided to explore if there was a way to incorporate wood into places where it had not been used before.
The trick was to create something that was new and interesting without being a gimmick, or a cheap novelty. And Hideo’s solution was to apply his traditional hand woodcarving skills to the task, and make a beautiful, handmade, and deeply thought out necktie with a variety of clever techniques that would allay any issues.
First, for me, I assumed that a wooden necktie would be a slab, a hard piece of wood without the flexibility of fabric, and thus nothing more than an impractical novelty. But upon seeing and holding a Nokutie, I realized that the tie was made of several interconnected, flexible sections of hand carved wood. So there was the same flexibility, the same slight curving, that you would find in a regular tie.
Another hack, so to speak, was reducing the weight of a Nokutie by grooving the underside of the wood in an artistic way that still managed to reduce the weight considerably, down to less than 100 grams for most ties.
Finally, there is the way of tying the tie, which Hideo came up with and which allows the knot of the tie to serve as the mechanism to easily and comfortably loosen and tighten the tie string. The string itself is comfortable, soft, and expensive looking.
A section on the underside of the tie thoughtfully keeps the string from hanging loose and being visible.
How does a Nokutie feel? It feels surprisingly light and flexible, while at the same time solid and natural in a way that a fabric tie is not. Each tie is made of pieces cut from a single block of wood, insuring that the grain of the wood fits together across the different sections. In a weird but nice way it feels like you are wearing a single tree.
Another difference from a regular tie is the 3-dimensional effect of the carved wood, which while thin, still has a dimensionality that fabric ties do not.
Each Nokutie is hand carved using traditional Hida region woodworking techniques, and often hand-dyed or lacquered as well. The result is that the ties have a premium feel, each one unique and different from any other, that cannot be mistaken for a cheap novelty.
So there you have it, a wooden tie that is thin, flexible, light, natural, and premium-crafted. The look is unique, and the people around will almost certainly never have seen anything like it. For men who don’t mind trying something new and standing out, the Nokutie is guaranteed to be a conversation starter, and put a smile on the face of almost anyone they interact with, whether in a business or a personal setting, while still maintaining a premium, expensive appearance.
The ties come in very fancy packaging, with the instruction manual (in Japanese) printed on antique-style traditional Hida region paper, wrapped like a Japanese scroll. With the beautiful packaging, they make a great gift for husbands, boyfriends, or fathers.
If you are interested in the Nokutie and live outside of Japan, Allegro Japan offers the most popular types, including Nokuties made from Walnut Tree wood, Sakura Tree wood, and my personal favorite, Ash Tree wood with a beautiful Indigo glass coat finish. Our Nokuties come in two different sizes, Medium (35.7cm length, meant for men 160-175mm in height) and Large (41.9cm length, meant for men over 175cm in height). Please feel free to browse our selection of Nokuties, as well as the over a thousand other unique Japanese products in our catalog.
Allegro Japan ships all over the world, with international shipping included free of charge on every order across the site. So the price you see on the first product page is the price you will actually pay at the end, without any shipping fees or other extra hidden charges.
Thank you for reading this far, and please check out my other blog posts about a wide variety of topics related to Japan!