My Bro Tie: Memorable Bowties Made from Vintage Fabrics
My Bro Tie was founded at the end of 2013 by Thys and Felix out of a desire to improve the style and variety of bowties available, and importantly—to offer a truly unique, handmade product.
„Thys, my co-founder, was invited to a wedding and he was looking for a bowtie. Everything he found was either black, blue or bordeaux, and in silk. So, he asked his mother, “Could you make me a bowtie?” and she made a bowtie—the first “bro tie” as we call it—from a long tie he owned. At the wedding, everybody was asking about it. And he thought “Oh, this might be a good idea” and began thinking about starting a business.”
Thys runs the company out of South Africa and Felix takes care of the European market headquartered in Berlin. The bro ties are made from vintage fabrics, with care, by Thys’ mother and her friends. The cloth is found at local flea markets for the most part. To create a seasonal collection of 100-200 bro ties, the co-founders collaborate with a cloth producer who works with large fashion chains. They purchase the samples, which consist of about one and a half to two meters of discontinued fabric. What’s truly special about My Bro Tie is that they’ll also make bro ties out of customer-submitted items.
Felix remembers one woman who contacted him and described how, every Christmas, her family gathers in front of her grandfather’s home in Sweden, where he begins the celebrations by raising the Swedish flag. Then, everyone goes inside, eats, and exchanges gifts. Over time, the flag became weathered and torn. Not wanting to throw away an item with such sentimental value, the granddaughter asked Felix if it could be made into a bro tie:
“She gave me a little sketch and said, “Ok, can you put the yellow here and the blue there?” and we made a bowtie out of this old flag for the grandfather. So, there they all were—the grandfather had pulled up the new flag and, after they entered the house, she gave him this little box and there was the bowtie in it. She said it was a very emotional moment.”
That’s just one of the many touching stories Thys and Felix have about their custom pieces. Other unexpected fabrics they’ve made bro ties from include: coffee bags (perfect for a café or roastery staff uniform), upholstery, mohair blankets, and suede jackets.
Since its inception, My Bro Tie has expanded their product line to include matching mini bro ties for children, as well as suspender and pocket square sets. My Bro Tie applies a principle of care and attention to detail from start to finish: from the selection of fabrics and construction of the bro ties right down to the packaging.
“Maybe you’ve seen that all the boxes, on the inside, are always different. Here we used a vintage atlas, for example. So, we cut out the pages, they get glued onto the cardboard, and then we stamp it. Since we can only use one page for one box, not only is the product limited, but even the box is: you can only find one box worldwide at one time.”
This thoughtful approach is also visible in My Bro Tie’s branding: they infuse all their communications and visuals with a touch of class and whimsy. So, it was no surprise to hear that creating the business was a kind of wish-fulfillment for both co-founders; when Thys told Felix about My Bro Tie, it changed his course by empowering him to follow his passion.
“Fashion was always my secret pleasure. I always liked nifty fabrics and patterns, and this is always what I wanted to do. But as you know, it’s always that you have this desire to do something, but you can’t really get out of the house and start doing it. Then, Thys came around with the story of My Bro Tie and I thought, “Whoa, wait a minute… if you won’t do it now, when are you going to do it?”
In the beginning, they attended a fashion convention where they also had the chance to sell the bro ties. Unfortunately, they lost sales because their customers could not pay by card, Felix recalls, “At the first convention, customers said “I don’t have cash.” And then I was like, “This is a sale I could have just made…”
They were later approached by a SumUp sales representative, and took advantage of the opportunity. While My Bro Tie primarily runs an online shop, they also have customers visiting their office in-person, and they continue to attend trade shows as well as markets. Therefore, SumUp’s mobility is particularly beneficial to My Bro Tie.