When I was approached by Sette Neckwear a few months ago, I had not heard of them before. After a few email exchanges and a nice phone conversation with Peter Watkins – the company’s founder - he sent me one of their neckties for review. After an extensive testing period, I would like to share my results with you today.
History of Sette Neckwear
Sette in Italian means ‘seven.’ Peter chose this name because his ties are seven fold (sette pieghe) ties that are made in Italy. Earlier in his career, Mr. Watkins in American politics, far from the realm of men’s accessories and neckties. Although he was never a candidate himself, he worked for almost six years in the White House under George W. Bush. During a trip to Italy, he got to know Silvio Berlusconi and his tie makers. That’s when he had the idea to create his own line of ties. Initially, he wanted to start selling the ties of Berlusconi’s tie maker, but the idea never came to fruition. Later he met Robert Jensen, who began his apprenticeship as a tie designer with Robert Talbott in 1979 and a few years later, he was entrusted to design their entire neckwear collection. Back then, 7-fold ties were mostly unknown in America and so Mr. Jensen reintroduced them to the US. Today, Sette neckwear produces only seven fold ties.
The Sette tie arrived in a long, nicely presented cardboard box. The pattern, so Peter told me, was one of his favorites. In fact, it was a lilac-purple silk tie with a twist. It was made of a jacquard woven silk with the number 7 all over. While most 7s came in a subtly light shade of purple, there were also some white ones that clearly stood out on the tie. Personally, I prefer more subtle patterns (unless they are already part of the classic repertoire) but that is just my individual taste. All Sette ties come in one length and one width, which in this case is 8.5cm (3.35″) wide and 152cm (60″) long.
I find that quite long, especially if you are under 6’2″, but Peter told me that they believe the fashion demands a longer tie again. The front end is symmetrical, the back and just ever so slightly off; but it hangs straight down, which is what you want from a tie.
Sette Tie – Handsewn from 100% Silk
Overall, the Sette tie felt rather thick and heavy due to its construction, although it only weighs in at 73 grams (just over 2.5 oz). First of all, this tie is made of 100% silk. I know most tags on ties will say that, but more often than not, they have an interlining that is made out of wool, cotton, polyester, etc. Even seven fold ties will sometimes come with an interlining – not so with the Sette tie. Instead, it is cut and folded out of 2 pieces of silk without any form of interlining. The tips are self tipped and sewn in by machine, but the long tie seam is made by hand with a contrasting, visible white thread. For decorative purposes, the ends are finished with a hand embroidered 7. I am not sure if the thread is made of silk, but it does not really matter. What matters is that it is sewn by hand, so the tie is flexible as it is tied and untied.
The Interlining or Lack Thereof
A tie without a lining is not always a better tie, it is just a different tie. First of all, you need considerably more silk than a regular 3 fold tie, and more silk is wasted. Second, it has different feel compared to a lined tie. Not all linings are created equally, and usually wool or a blend of materials is used to produce the best interlinings. The purpose of the interlining is to give the tie a good shape, make the knot look nice and increase the wrinkle resistance. In order to make up for the lack of volume, unlined ties are usually seven fold (some call it six fold but it is the same method).
An unlined seven fold tie is different: wrinkles are more visible and harder to get rid of, ironing requires more expertise and otherwise you get marks in the fabric in areas where the back has been folded, like on the tip. For example, on the Sette tie, if I look at it from the front, I can see the folded over edge from the self tipping in the back.
Apart from that, the construction creates a different knot and appearance. Some people adore this look and feel, while others prefer the ties with a lining. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference. Over the years, I have had ample opportunity to wear both kinds, but my personal preference is a lined tie.
7 Fold Tie
Whether you prefer a 7 fold tie or not, they are more expensive to produce because you waste more silk in production. The silk usage can even be increased by cutting the tie from a single piece. Most ties are made out of two or sometimes three pieces; the Sette is made of two pieces that are sewn together plus tipping.
Another detail of this tie is the lack of tags. Instead, it has the logo and “HAND SEWN FINEST SILK MADE IN ITALY” woven into the fabric. In order to get it right, you need a good cutter, otherwise the woven text will end up off center. It all looks very neat on my tie.
Moreover, Sette ties are all limited and they come in two editions. One series is only made seven times, which means a cloth pattern is designed for just 7 ties. This exclusivity comes with a hefty price tag of $445 and a wooden gift box.
The second limited edition is only produced 21 times and comes in a cardboard box for $265.
As with all limited editions, the items are numbered. Considering that the material and company logo were woven into the fabric, I expected the numbers to be woven in as well, but instead, they used a silver pen to write down the number. All of this does not matter at all in terms of quality. However, in terms of exclusivity, I thought this was a little cost saving short cut, because it is much cheaper to just write down the number by hand. If you want to convey true exclusivity and quality, it is important to be consequent – especially at this price point.
The Tie Knot
Last but not least, I want to discuss the knot of the tie. Personally, I think the knot’s appearance is one of the most important – if not the most important – feature of a tie. If a tie does not create a nice knot, I will not wear it, no matter how special the material is. Without good looks, a tie defeats its purely decorative purpose.
So, how did the Sette tie knot turn out, you may wonder? I am sorry to say that it was not perfect. I tied the tie at least 50 times with varying knots to make sure I was not making a snap judgement. Because of the layers of silk, knots like a nicky or four in hand looked better than a windsor knot, in my opinion. Regardless of the knot type, they all consistently had one issue: they wrinkled on the side of the tie knot. I think it has to do with the thickness of the silk, because I compared the knot to other seven fold ties without an interlining, and I only encountered the problem with the Sette tie.
After much testing, I can only conclude that the tie falls short of my expectations for such an expensive price of $265. The pattern, the gift box and the beautiful hand detailing aside, I am unlikely to wear this tie due to the unsightly wrinkling of the knot and the fact that it is rather long. However, if you’re interested in a very limited edition, seven fold, all Italian silk tie, it’s worth checking out their current selection online. Sette ties can be found at www.setteneckwear.com.