Women in Neckwear: Ruth Graves, STEP USA

A few smart, talented, workaholic women are shaking things up in men’s neckwear. Here, Karen Alberg Grossman talks to Ruth Graves.

Ruth Graves

How did you start?
I started my career working for the finest silk mill in Como, Italy developing design, technique and color for top American designers. For me, it was a time of learning  how to capture the best from the best: Giancarlo Galvani, Michele Palladino and Enrico Prini were some of my mentors!  

Your specific niche?
My concept is creating high-quality neckwear from original unique designs. My ties reflect a timeless elegance and luxury; they are hand-made in the USA, never mass produced.  

A new niche for me is my BKLYN collection: I’m proud to promote quality, made-in-USA neckwear at affordable prices. It’s been a big hit overseas, in stores like United Arrows in Japan. I also create scarves, pocket squares, bags and throws. A new source of inspiration for me is Peru, where I’m trying out new techniques in alpaca.

Define a “woman’s touch” in tie design.
Women have the ability to intuit what it takes to make a man’s wardrobe more fashionable, elegant, trendy, sexy…  

The best/worst part?
The best part is the journey: discovering new ideas from world travels to some remote mills no one even knows exist. The excitement of bringing thoughts and ideas to life, showcasing them with passion and meeting the unique people along the way who have the same hunger to create something beautiful.
The worst part is when a retailer does not take time to notice the nuances: the feel, the touch, the details. I love it when merchants want to know the intricacies of each new collection. To understand the artistic endeavor is a big part of being a buyer!

Best sellers this season?
The silk/linens woven in Italy and made in NYC. Also strong were silk/cottons woven with an applied chambray effect: these were 2.5 inches wide, $26 to $29 wholesale for suggested retails of $79 to $99. And the whimsical prints with New York City themes, handmade right here in NYC.

Your other interests?
I love cooking, music, gardening, painting, playing piano, exploring the world.

Philosophy of life?
Live well, laugh often, love much. I also believe that no rain, no rainbows.

Your best advice?
To retailers: Think outside the box. To male consumers: If you wear it, wear it with confidence. Be fabulous!

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