Part Western, part retro, the bolo is emerging as an alternative to the necktie.
Bolo ties, the official neckwear of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and the ne plus ultra for the Western cowboy for over 60 years, are having a moment on fashionable young necks.
In Paris, Balmain featured $550 gold-toned bolo ties in their spring 2018 menswear show — and promptly sold out. On Instagram, the #BoloTie hashtag has 50,446 posts and counting, with both men and women being equally ironic and serious in their style choice. On the Internet, searches for “bolo tie amazon” have increased 120 percent over the past 12 months, according to Google Trends.
The word “bolo” is derived from boleadora, an Argentine lariat or rope used to lasso, although the neckwear’s actual origin is a mystery. Victor Cedarstaff claims he is the creator: In the late 1940s he was riding his horse when his hat flew off, and so as not to lose his hatband, he simply slung it around his neck and an iconic accessory was born.
The neck lasso — or bolas, bootlace, or shoestring ties as they have also been called — made it into mainstream fashion in the ’80s when it was coveted by rockabilly and new-wave bands and has continued to pop up on eccentric celebrities ever since, including Bill Murray, Johnny Depp, Bruno Mars and Macklemore. And like the resurgence in ugly sneakers and all-things archival, that brings us to today.
“This summer, we definitely have seen a lot of grooms purchase these for their groomsmen and/or themselves for their big day,” says Hayley Faw, co-founder of the jewelry brand Apse Adorn, which has been making bolos for about two years. “We even designed seven custom bolos for one groom who wanted each of his groomsmen to sport a different pendant style.
“Bolos are a really simple — and meaningful — way to test the ‘accessory waters’ without going into full-blown jewelry,” she says.
Designer Gogo Ferguson has seen this trend before. “Bolos seem to come and go like the tide,” she says, “but I have held that they are a unique twist to an otherwise boring tuxedo.”
Evan Ratner and Vinnie Buehler this summer launched Caliny, a brand that uses interchangeable pieces so guys can match their bolo with their outfit. They call it the “Urbolo.”
“I am in my early 30s and don’t feel I can pull off the Southwest look on a daily basis, so we created a bolo with an urban edge,” Buehler says. The idea came together last summer over drinks in Manhattan’s Union Square, when he was listening to his friend and now business partner vent his frustration on the lack of neckwear options for men.
“We’ve noticed that people enjoy wearing them around their neck for more formal occasions,” Ratner says, “but friends also have enjoyed loosening them up and wearing them with a tee.”
Breaking the chains of the necktie monopoly one bolo at a time.