Home >mint-lounge >indulge >Nothing says ‘hipster’ like a wooden bow tie

I am sitting across the table from two young Englishmen. At first glance they seem entirely normal. They are dressed normally enough, except for the fact that Tim Brenninkmeijer, seated on the left, sports a brown-coloured bow tie. But then, the bow tie is one of the many little aesthetic details of the ongoing hipster renaissance. Along with pants that are too short, shirts that are too tight and beards that are too long.

But there is something about Brenninkmeijer’s bow tie that you only notice after a few moments. “The double take. We’ve seen that happen so many times," Brenninkmeijer tells me. Why? Because his bow tie is not made of silk or some such exotic fabric, but of wood. And not just any wood. “This is from our Salvage Collection," explains Theo Andrews. “It’s from an old roof truss from an old country house. This wood is probably 16th century oak. The house got torn down, and the owner gave us some of the wood. He said this is what we have left, make some bow ties."

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Variant 1: ‘Quirky style’. Ebony with hard maple inlays, inserted by hand.

Andrews sits to the left of Brenninkmeijer. Together, both men run Willow & Warson, a company that makes wooden bow ties.

Yes, the whole thing smacks of a gimmick product that will be foisted off on gullible hipsters. But that is a sentiment that will last only till you actually hold one of their bow ties in your hands. They are really quite wonderful.

Brenninkmeijer and Andrews open up a large, flat wooden box and place it on the table between us. Inside is an array of around a dozen bow ties, in different shapes, sizes and, most importantly, woods.

Willow & Warson makes and sells bow ties crafted from woods such as willow, pine, mahogany, ebony, zebrano and cherry. And if you ask them nicely, they will even craft bow ties out of any precious, memorable wood you may have in stock at home.

Brenninkmeijer explains: “We have a client whose father is the president of, or he is about to become president of, the cricket club that he is a part of. And the family has loved cricket all their lives. So his son, my friend, asked me if we could make his father a bow tie from one of the many cricket bats in their collection."

I can already see Indian cricket aficionados adding a Sachin or Rahul or Virat bow tie to their wardrobe. What a statement that would make.

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Variant 2: Bay leaf willow sourced from trees growing in Theo Andrews’ Warson farm.

But wait. How did Tim the digital marketer and Theo the traditional furniture maker end up making wooden bow ties?

Brenninkmeijer says that the idea has its roots in a trip his family made to a restaurant in the Tyrolean Alps in Austria. “A traditional place where the waiters wore lederhosen. And these wooden bow ties." These ties, Brenninkmeijer recalls, were not very sophisticated. Just little sheets of wood cut into a bow tie silhouette. But the wood matched the decor of the restaurant. His father, who knew the proprietors well, procured a few of these ties for his own use. Soon it became a family joke, Brenninkmeijer says. His father would bring one of his ties out at family events to general amusement.

And then at one event some years ago, Brenninkmeijer was seated next to family friend Andrews. “About a year and a half before that, Theo had begun his journey into craft and furniture making. So I was sitting next to Theo knowing he has done these amazing pieces of chairs, and furniture, and all. And I got my dad’s wooden bow tie and said, ‘Could you do something like this, but then like a bow tie you’re wearing?’ Because he was wearing a proper, dynamic, beautiful bowtie."

The rest, the two men tell me, is history. They began production last November. All the bow ties are made by hand in the Willow & Warson workshop in Coryton, Devon. Woods come from a variety of sources including off-cuts from Andrews’ furniture business. And unlike those Austrian bow ties from the restaurant, Willow & Warson’s pieces are exquisitely carved, with an organic, almost fabric-like feel to them. The ebony bow tie, for instance, could easily be mistaken for a more conventional silk tie. But there is also a technical aspect to them. The polka-dot ties are actually constructed from two different types of wood. Andrews says they are constantly figuring out ways to give the wooden ties life and dynamism.

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Variant 3: Purple Heart, an exotic South American wood that is, of course, purple in colour.

Prices start from around £90.

For more details and to order go to: www.willowandwarson.co.uk

Give me wood

If Willow & Warson made you rethink the utility of wood in crafting high-end products, then this is exactly the page for you. This year, why not look beyond the same boring old gold and silver and steel and plastic and polycarbonate in your wardrobe? Why not equip yourself with an assortment of accessories all made from exquisite woods? We’ve scoured the globe to bring you a selection of outstanding products all crafted from one of mankind’s most enduring construction materials.

You’d be amazed at what they do with wood these days.

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