Meetings with Dave Klaus of MMG Neckwear are always interesting for me. His business is a good mix of private label, mass and department stores, so his business is fairly representative of the mainstream. On the other hand, in a market dominated by huge rivals, MMG works extra hard to innovate, both in design and fabrication. Sometimes that drive takes them to odd places, like machine-washable ties (or more recently, a tie with a zippered compartment for cash and credit cards), but their instincts are good. And who knows? Maybe zippered ties will take off!
MMG’s Rooster brand ($39.59 retail) is still anchored by traditional preppy stripes and club ties but seasonal florals did well enough last spring that they’ll make a bigger return for spring 2014.
James Campbell ($59.50) is a step up from Rooster, but no less adventurous, pattern-wise. “We had some tests this spring with true camos and they blew out,” said Klaus. James Campbell features some monochromatic camos, animal prints and florals in woven cottons and soft silk and viscose blends. In fact, various blends are becoming so common, Klaus jokes that they’re spending lots more on new content tags.
Back at Rooster, bow ties are now a much larger part of the business—fully 35 percent of total—a reflection of mainstream acceptance and what MMG’s merchandising VP Terri Jentilucci says appears to be a doubling of retail floor space for the category. Another niche category, knit ties (MMG offers both poly and cotton knits) are starting to show renewed promise, too.
“Our business with the young men’s stores in incredible,” says Klaus. “The fact that stores like Urban Outfitters sell ties is amazing.”