UGA students and business partners at Classic City Cotton: (l-r) Founder Ancel Briley, along with Andrew Goodman, and Harrison Boza, all wearing the company’s product – “classic-tied bow ties.”
Ask any style columnist and they will tell you bow ties are cool. They are the formal accouterment of choice for men across the political and social spectrum. From hipsters to right wing columnists, the bow tie is hot.
But those suckers are so hard to tie.
Enter an Athens, Ga. company started by a group of fraternity brothers, Classic City Cotton.
Founder Ancel Briley, who comes from a entrepreneurial background, saw the need for fraternity guys at UGA to be able to properly tie a bow tie. In his blog, Briley noted the hurdle of tying “has stymied their recent resurgence in popularity.”
To cater to Greeks at all southern colleges, Briley set out to produce bow ties that would look good when tied by a novice wearer. He began his research buying a bow tie, cutting it apart to see how it was made, then finding a seamstress in Athens to produce a custom line.
To solve the tying problem, Briley has taken things into his own hands. The rising junior at UGA literally ties every bow tie shipped by his company. They arrive with a perfect knot and are put on using a small clasp to open the tie at the back.
What Classic City produces are “classic tied” bow ties.
And they aren’t some cheesy clip-ons. The Classic City ties are just like the real things except for the clasp. You can even untie one (and then spend 20 minutes trying to get it right again while looking at a Youtube video). The company’s website notes, “These bow ties are not clip-on ties, they must be tied at least once like any other authentic bow tie would.”
Briley, said he recognized the opportunity for the classic tied bow ties when a local store that caters to fraternity guys said people weren’t buying them because they were so hard to tie. “So many people want to wear them but they are so much trouble to tie,” he said.
Since founding in 2014, Classic City Cotton bow ties are now found in 10 clothing stores in Georgia and online at classiccitycotton.com with a large selection of patterns.
Briley and Andrew Goodman, the vice president and another UGA student, said they are making a real push this summer to expand into more stores with their first focus on places frequented by fraternity members in other college towns. The eye of these young entrepreneurs, however, is expanding into the general men’s market for bow tie wearers of all ages.
Briley said when asked by people on the Athens campus what he plans after graduation, he answers that is already doing it. “I love entrepreneurship and I love bow ties.”