Many of you may not know this, but I’m a huge fan of the bow tie. It’s a status piece that can set the right tone to any ensemble. And on my quest to bring you the best in fashion, I found Mr. Jay Austin, The Bow tie Architect…
Mr. Jay Austin is one of those great designers that come along very seldom in life. Born a “navy brat” he traveled the world at a very young age. He’s been able to see and experience things that most will never even read about. And although he spent most of his time traveling, he considered Los Angeles, California home for many years. In 1990, he relocated here to Atlanta, Georgia. Beginning his career in Automotive Retail Sales, he says he always knew that he had a distinctive love for fashion.
As one of the main questions that I ask everyone I interview, “When did you fall in love with fashion?” his answer was unique and very telling of the passion that he holds for his craft. For the past 25 years Mr. Austin has kept a journal of his journey in becoming the designer he is today. Having always had an eye for fashion he states that he was very fond of the bow tie and definitely wanted to learn the proper way to tie one. As he began to learn and perfect his method of tying, he began noticing the lack of variations in the styles of bow ties out there, which initially inspired him to start designing his own line. And as a man of true passion ever trying to perfect his craft, he still keeps that journal. I would consider that greatness at work; when you know that you’ve never fully mastered anything and that you can still learn different techniques of doing things, it allows you to continuously evolve in your craft (take notes people!).
Bow ties are a great accessory but don’t speak to everyone, so I had to ask, “What’s next?” He excitedly informed me that his company just launched a custom vest line on January 12, 2012. He classifies the vests as totally customizable, with the signature double-breasted aspect to them. From the details of them they are a mix between the vest and waistcoat, which will definitely be a great look paired with the right bow tie! You can currently find them in two stores in the Atlanta area. Hong Kong Tailors of Atlanta, which specializes in everything from custom-made shirts to custom-made shoes, is a perfect pairing for Jay and his impressive designs. The other, Jiwani Custom Clothiers, is a very privileged and upscale tailoring boutique that specializes heavily in the Savile Row technique of design. But don’t think that you’ll just be able to breeze in and window shop. Both of these locations are appointment only, and if you’re that corporate guy that’s just so busy you have to multitask by being measured and taking your conference calls at the same time, well you should definitely look into these stores.
As we delve deeper into the conversation, I had to find out what were some of his biggest inspirations. He reiterated the fact that he was compelled to learn how to properly tie a bow tie but then also noted his love and admiration of the artist Prince. He recollects that at a very young age he noted that Prince’s style was an abstractly unique; being that no one else would dare try the bold fashion statements as he did regularly. I agree that Prince’s style is one that is very eye-catching and can definitely be inspirational to the right person. I guess you can say that Jay and Prince are “fashion kindred spirits”. And with a business of this stature you must have a great support system, and that he does. Starting with his wife of 12 years, she is in his corner 100 percent. So much so, that she makes all of his designs by hand for every order. No outsourcing here, I’d undeniably consider this is the true definition of teamwork! Next on the list of big supporters he has to thank “The Bow tie Club”, which essentially is all of his clients. He explained the concept to me of why it’s beneficial to be a member of the club, and how the different levels of membership work. The Gold, Silver, and Platinum levels differentiate on which clients have purchased the most amounts of bow ties. He proudly tells me that he has 3 members of the Platinum Club, which means they’ve purchased over 100 bow ties each. That’s great! And last but most definitely not least, the City Club of Buckhead. The CCB is an incredible contact and support system to have here in the metro Atlanta area. They offer invaluable services to help build your company in all ways possible, and Mr. Austin is taking full advantage of his membership there, which in turn allows the customer to receive such great benefits as well.
So with all of this talk of the service he offers, it may be best if I describe what a new client can expect when shopping here. To start, they’ve made great improvements to their online store with total customization. You are walked through each section thoroughly with access to a live chat button that is available 24/7. Now what other independently owned company has that feature? None. He deeply believes in that old school customer service; very hands on with the customer no question goes unanswered and no stone left unturned. He jokes that the secret sauce to his designs is the quality of the bow ties. And with quality comes a signature piece; that being the “ladybug”. A bright red with black or navy blue dots classic bow tie, it has been his biggest seller for the past 3 years (the same amount of time he’s been in business. He also states that a close runner up to the lady bug is the “Houndstooth”. Both are big sellers for him and he prides himself of being able to maintain a level of quality to keep them at the best sellers mark. A lot of hard work is put into each one, and definitely is considered a labor of love. Did you know that you can convert a neck-tie into a bow tie? Well, if you didn’t or couldn’t find the right person to do it for you Mr. Austin is very much capable of doing that as well. If the tie meets his small list of requirements, he will convert your neckties to bow ties. It is an easy way to transition those ties you no longer wear or want into a useful accessory that is definitely in style right now. The website offers so many tutorials; from the different shapes of bow ties to the proper method of conversion that you can’t help yourself as to readily wanting to purchase one or more (preferably more)!
After detailing his online store, we started to wrap things up but I couldn’t do that without getting the scoop on where he felt his business was headed. Just as any other designer he’d like to see his pieces in more-high end stores, which shouldn’t be too much of a problem because the designs are great and with this ever-growing fashion genre on the rise again. With the new store connections, he hopes to gain more members into the Bow tie Club. Lastly, in a short-term goal of his, he’s looking to raise more money so that he may market his company at the 2013 Steeple Chase Competition, which is considered a networking Mecca for businesses such as his. Over 25,000 people are guaranteed to come through the event and he wants to be sure that he is there to create more buzz about his business. I’d have to say that this was a great interview and a complete pleasure speaking with Mr. Austin. I do hope you all take the time out to check him out and get a few custom bow ties for yourself. Let’s support this great business. With 3 years already under his belt, let’s all shop with him so that he can at least 30 more to his resume!
Looking to contact Mr. Austin here are a few ways to do so:
LinkedIn: Jay Austin Bow tie Club of Atlanta