shawn reagan, the designer and craftsman behind the beautiful neckware at primary ties, chatted with me about the recent opening of his new company. i’m swooning over these unique and beautiful and thoughtfully made ties (jp received one for christmas last year and it’s his go-to tie). read on!
1. what is primary ties? Currently Primary is only neckwear, but my vision down the road is to expand to other fashion accessories.
2. how did you get the idea to make ties? what was your inspiration? I have always had a strong interest in design and I have a background in art, however I’ve found myself in a day job that doesn’t exactly satisfy my creative passions. so for the past few years I have been exploring several personal creative projects. About a year and a half ago I stumbled upon ties. I can’t remember exactly when the idea to make a tie came to me, but I have fallen in love with the process, because it touches on so many of my passions.
A lot of my fashion inspiration comes from childhood memories. My family spent summers in Connecticut and although the New England culture played a part the biggest influences were my two uncles Joey, and Clay. Joey worked in a ship yard, so his attire consisted of solid heavy workwear. He was always in a knit cap with a bulky button down shirt, jeans and boots. It was great. This never changed unless we were going out to Italian, and he would wear a tie. A solid navy blue, or forest green is usually what he went for. Clay on the other hand worked in Manhattan, and had some dough. His style was completely prep, and completely different from Joey, but even as a child I appreciated and aimed to emulate both.
Another one of my biggest influences is Japanese designer Hiroshi Awai. I think the reason I identify with his design is because he melds workwear and classic american dress wear really beautifully, and every now again you see a funky Japanese twist.
3. where are they made and what are they made out of? All ties are made in Denver, CO. Currently I’m using some linen fabrics as well as a few chambrays. I was also lucky enough to stumble upon some unique Japanese double gauze on a recent trip to LA which has been a challenge to work with, but the final result is amazing.
4. what has the process of developing this company looked like — from idea to conception? When I first began making ties I would walk into a fabric supplier, and my eyes would light up. I would end up buying any and every fabric that caught my eye, but this left me with a collection that didn’t seem harmonious. Since then I have developed a more clear vision of what I want the aesthetic of Primary to be, and my restraint has improved.
5. has creating, developing, launching this brand been what you expected? easier or harder? what have the challenges been? Overall it has been easier than expected. This is because I am fortunate to be surrounded by the most supportive friends and family a man could have. It seems that whatever problem, or question I come upon there is always a person in my life to give me a really intelligent helpful solution. It’s really a great blessing. My biggest challenge has been finding the time to develop the entire brand aesthetic from top to bottom.
6. are you doing this alone, or do you have partners/collaborators/helpers in the brand? I am designing and constructing the ties alone, but I am inspired daily by my creative friends, which is priceless help.
7. who is helping you w branding/website development? I have a degree in graphic design, so I decided to tackle most of the branding myself, but I’ve received a lot of web development help from my good friend and roommate, Dan Garza. He is a gifted web/graphic designer and his guidance and expertise has been a huge aid. I have also been lucky enough to lock down photographer Luca Venter to work on some look books with me which has been a treat. Both very very talented guys.
8. where can you buy these handsome ties? Online. I’ve also been in talks with several Denver boutiques — but that’s still in the works.
9. what new businesses (besides ties!) would you like to see happen in denver? Honestly just more of the same good stuff. Denver had been blossoming before our eyes in my opinion. The restaurant and bar scene is better by the day, and it seems that I’m hearing about more and more well curated men’s and women’s apparel stores that are ready to pop up soon. Tikwid, and Steadbrook to name a few. There is a a great creative energy in Denver right now, and as long as it keeps up I’ll be a happy camper.
10. what’s your favorite shop in denver? favorite place to eat? My favorite shop is Ironwood. It is beautiful, and interesting space, and I would buy every plant, stone, and antique if I could! With the rapidly growing Denver food scene it’s tough to pin down a favorite, but a few months ago I tried Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder, and enjoyed every bite. It was my favorite meal of the year for sure, and the good news is that they are opening a sister restaurant at The Source in Denver called Acorn which I cannot wait for.
thanks, shawn! shawn is generously offering readers of A Denver Home Companion 10% off purchases made in his shop now through july 30th! just pop on over to shop primary and enter promocode GOLDENLIGHT.