Photos by Evie Carpenter
A design architect sees things though a slightly modified lens. A scrap of waste in the back of a closet becomes an opportunity. It is not ignored. It is embraced — in this case, to make bow ties.
At least that is what Aaron Kimberlin, founder and owner of Dapper + Dash, did. He saw fabrics his ancestors wore as a chance to repurpose vintage material into bow ties.
Dapper + Dash held its unveiling at the Mercantile salon and vintage boutique in downtown Phoenix Saturday.
Bow tie wearers were in high attendance in a crowd that filled the space quite tightly.
Kimberlin said he saw the antiquity of bow ties as a selling point.
“I have always been a student of design,” Kimberlin said. “Design is cyclical. Everything is cyclical. Why not fashion?”
A spark was struck in 2008 when he received a set of old ties from his grandfather. It was only a matter of time before this Arizona native began to conceptualize his idea.
The accessory made sense because of his architectural background. Neckties got in the way as architects bent over a project or drafting table, Kimberlin said.
Bow ties are a logical alternative. They are clean and elegant, and display the same level of professionalism without swaying to and fro in front of an artist’s workspace.
“I think his product has a lot of integrity,” said Shauna Thibault, owner of Mercantile. “The entire product and aesthetic fits with what we are doing here at Mercantile.”
Neckties and other antique materials are selected based on quality and print. The fabric is then hand cut and stitched into one of three designs – Dagwood, Huckleberry or Churchill – all for $42 apiece.
Subtle hints of Kimberlin’s roots show through at every stage of the product. From start to finish, Dapper + Dash is a local endeavor. Packaged in a repurposed tube, all accessories are hand stamped with the logo and sent out for retail.
“Bow-ristas” at the event were available to teach the art of tying the bow tie, as well as model the styles.
“I think the bow tie is definitely a staple of the men’s wardrobe,” model Zac Coffey said.
Forgot how to tie it after lesson number one? Each tie comes with a convenient instruction card as well as the original fabric label as a reminder of the “old-world textile experience” as Thibault put it.
But the endeavor represents more than just a fashion statement or a wardrobe accessory.
This hopefully represents the start of a chain of local projects, all backed by the community said Feliciano Vera, a downtown community member.
“It puts some character into downtown,” said Keith Mulvin, a supporter of Dapper + Dash. “It is marketing the city.”
Dapper + Dash recently opened an online retail store and products are also available at Mercantile on Central Avenue just north of McKinley Street.
“What I am selling is an experience,” Kimberlin said. “You are receiving a piece of history, just remade.”
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