Charvet bow ties

The cost of variety is rarely appreciated by consumers. Among all the things that make up the price of a piece of clothing – materials, labour, rent, tax, marketing, R&D – the waste implicit in a broad range is hardly ever considered.

This was brought home to me particularly strongly last week, when I was in Paris talking to Jean-Claude Colban of Charvet. It offers six different shades of grey, knitted-silk tie. Six! Some were familiar, others unique. But implicit in the cost of all of them was the variety available – you pay for the ones you turn down, effectively, as well as the ones you buy. It’s hard to think of anywhere that offers such a range, particularly in a bricks-and-mortar shop where you can see the shades first hand.

Gallo is another good example, but on design rather than colour. Every season the Italian sock company produces 200 new designs, which it offers to its various stockists around the world. Not all of those will be manufactured, but there is a development cost in each one, and the ones that are made will necessitate hundreds of small runs, as each is made in the requisite sizes. Gallo socks cost around €38 each; Mazarin starts at €20. Part of that extra cost is design time, wasted prototypes and lost economies of scale.

Of course, you may decide that’s not what you want to pay for. But without shops such as Charvet we wouldn’t have the luxury of choice, or quite the ability to express ourselves.

Photo: Luke Carby

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For Charvet knitted ties, varying widths would be appreciated as well as varying shades…

Shaya Green

Varying widths on knit ties isn’t something easily accomplished as the width depends on the machine making them, they aren’t made by hand.

From what I’ve seen, Turnbull & Asser is the only company that has wider knit ties, coming in around the 9cm mark…


I must say even 20 Euros is rather steep for socks, let alone 38. Whilst I do have a few pairs of ‘smart’ socks, if a man needs say 14 pairs of socks (at a minimum) at 38 Euros a pop, and they will presumably wear out after maximum 12 months, 532 Euros on socks is not an investment but a real luxury, sadly one I cannot afford….


What socks do you personally buy and why?


Once you enter the world of ‘luxury’ clothing, prices become a multiple of normal prices .. you start to become desensitised to it. Charvet is a great example, everything in there is probably twice the price of even its competitor luxury brands. I guess if you have the money and enjoy owning and wearing the stuff go for it … for others it can be oppressive, not only in initial cost but maintenance, upkeep, general annoyance of keeping your clothing from being soiled in everyday life. choice is yours.


for under £300 would you still reccomend a suit that fits? or would you go for suit supply? I know you must get bored with these questions as you probably have very little to do with things like these companies any more but students are students!


I visited suit supply recently for some wool trousers and thought the service and quality were very good. The tailoring was also very good

Sir Fopling Flutter

You could make exactly the same point about shops that sell a wide range of sizes in RTW. Some vendors have moved from real sizing in things like shirts to S,M,L, or they have got rid of different sleeve lengths. Compare that to the few shops that still carry a genuinely extensive range of sizes. Paul Stuart in NY is the standout. They sell jackets in odd and even sizes (so a 39, 40, 41, 42, 43 etc chest). They also carry most of those in short, medium, medium-tall, tall and extra-tall. That requires keeping a huge amount of inventory.

Juan Manuel

Interesting ways to value luxury.


Except that grey knitted silk ties do not go off and are unlikely to go out of (or into) fashion, so the likelihood is that they all will get sold eventually – it is not like a restaurant where what is not eaten has to get thrown away.



Re your requests for questions/ comments etc – liked your pieces on odd jackets / separates.

I personally love wearing nice jackets with trousers and not jeans but find the matching harder than I expected.

I know that my Solito cashmere blazer, Boglioli cotton summer jacket and brown look good with jeans but when moving away from jeans is not so easy.

More commentary on this would be extremely well received by your readers. What would also be useful is a simple ‘matrix’ (for the want of a better word!) showing what the main types of jacket fabric would work with which types of trouser –

EG –

– cashmere jacket –
– tweed jacket –
– cotton gabardine jacket
– wool/ cashmere mix

Etc, etc

Also, which colour jackets generally go with which colour trousers.

I know you’ve covered some of this before but a simple guide would be immensely useful. Next time I commission a jacket from Solito or buy a Boglioli I would use this guide for sure



Those are fair points, Simon.

But wouldn’t be nice to see gents commissioning proper trousers for their Bogliolis and Carusos and their. Neapolitan jackets

One thing also missing from your website is some follow up/feedback info from readers who have taken head of some of your advice overthe years?

Thru this site I’ve been introd to Vergallo, Solito, E Marinella, Edward Green – amongst others. And green is my third colour – I recently acquired a lovely green Francesco Maglia umbrella.

…and even went on a trip to Naples…


Hurra for the Gallo factory outlet, whence I make a yearly pilgrimage to stock up on summer socks (it’s mostly Falke for the colder months). Prices start around €4 for last year’s stock, around 10-12 for the current designs.


Where is this fabled factory outlet????


The Outlet is in Desenzano del Garda. There’s also Story Loris about 5 minutes south, but it was closed the last time I was there (don’t go in august!).

Tim Hardy

Excellent looking luxurious socks that beg to be bought – there is nothing compares to that feeling of well stockinged feet. Saving up already!


I’ve been enjoying your site and learning a great deal at the same time. Question: I don’t recall a picture of you wearing a knit tie. Do you not find them stylish or are they simply not to your liking? Thanks.


Is it possible to get hold of Charvet’s knitted ties online or through mail order? I’ve searched everywhere for a black knit tie, but it seems less easy to get than one would suppose.