Some of the best ideas aren't new, they're reinvented.
In this case, Barnaby Jones is taking the classic formal wear and turning it upside down to reinvent the gent's attire with one single accessory, the BOW-TIE.
The beginnings were by chance, Kate Barnaby walked into Libra Leather looking for inspiration. Instead of finding fabric for a jacket she was working on, she met Sam Jones, the self professed Leatha-Queen. Posing the idea if it was possible to make a bow-tie out of leather, Kate turned out a few samples the following day and they ran with it ever since.
Brass tacks: their bow-ties are luxurious coveted items; made of the finest leathers and silk.
Recently I was invited to a club opening, black-tie affair. After renting an overpriced-yet-dashing tuxedo, I rang Kate to see if she could loan me a bow-tie. She said no, and that I could design one. Of course.
Rummaging through their samples, my understanding of leather has been re-imagined. Envision leather as brushed as corduroy, soft as silk, perforated like an active running shoe, patterned like a Basquiat painting (I'd wear this with my limited edition Basquiat Reeboks), a gold as brilliant and reflective as the pearl of an oyster, or some colored like a scene from "Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory" (Gene Wilder edition, if you have to ask). Beyond that, they have a secret collection of bow-ties made from vintage leathers designed by the likes of Alexander McQueen, Bill Blass, John Galliano, and Christian Dior. These you will never see again.
Feeling best in a custom Big Daddy, I chose black corduroy leather with a fleshy pink supple lambskin on the front. Rubbing elbows with G-d knows who at Tao Downtown I was assaulted by curiosity and stares from the young and chic to the very, very old. To put it into perspective, it's an accessory equivalent to a Manolo Blahnik or Louboutin, just easier to see in a crowd of socialites.
I ending up handing few of my business cards (self promotion is a beast) for gents to get in touch to purchase their own. At that time Kate and Sam were only taking custom orders.
LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS, Big Daddy collection. "Picture yourself in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies... Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds features subtle dots printed on ivory lamb suede. On the back, a peachy Italian lambskin plonge. It's psychedelic chic." – Barnaby Jones
THE CADILLAC, Big Daddy collection. "The Cadillac is a bad-ass two-toned piece. On the front you've got a supple bordeaux lambskin and on the flip side there's a buttery soft Italian lambskin plonge. It's like butta baby." – Barnaby Jones
THE BASQUIAT, Skinny Pimp collection. "The inspiration for this color combination comes from our love of Jean-Michel Basquiat's artwork. This tie is made from perforated Italian lambskin." – Barnaby Jones
MELLOW YELLOW, Big Daddy collection. "This is one of our favorite bow ties from the Big Daddy collection. Made from 100% soft calf nubuck and cool as fuck. We call it mellow yellow..." – Barnaby Jones
THE WARHOL, Krylon collection. "Dedicated to the father of pop culture Andy Warhol, this is from our limited edition collection that we make with one-of-a-kind left over vintage leathers from designers from the 70s. Made from Italian printed plonge lambskin." – Barnaby Jones
The Personality of a Company
Fundamental to a successful company is building a culture that is partly an extension of you and partly an idea that resonates to the pulse of your audience. Barnaby Jones is not tailoring a lifestyle brand to fit a trend that currently exists. They are, sometimes more boldly than expected, penetrating your comfort of what was and is traditional. Barnaby Jones delivers a serious product in a playful package. Take their logo, which is a black cock. It's for your dirty little minds to connect BLACK COCK to something other than the silhouette of a rooster. And with that being said, is reading lower cased "black cock" more palatable then the capitalized "BLACK COCK" alternative? How many times will I succeed in inscribing a BLACK COCK into this journal? The record has been set…thus far. It takes some balls to be as fearlessly confident about one's image as they are. This may not suit British Lords and Barons. A Barnaby Jones is for the understated cool, the avant-garde, artists, street cats, or any gent looking to stand out a bit – or a lot. The clothes I wear are an extension of my personality. While I'm not trying to wear Gaga's meat dress to show how creative or cool I can be, I do appreciate an item that says all that while maintaing the elegance of my character.
Sam Jones, an enigmatic creature of reinvention. She's a surprise at every turn and fearlessly herself and more.
Kate Barnaby, a quiet storm of creativity. She's stronger than oak and sweeter than gum drops. If you happen to find a garden of miniature animals you should invite her to a tea-party.
When most people think of sustainable/organic products they imagine a few appealing products while the rest are hemp toothpaste, tofu shoes, and mock chicken burgers.
While I'm sure the cute little cows, deer and lamb were not cuddled to sleep and sung supple tunes before their fashion consumption, Barnaby Jones does hold true to building their local economy.
We cannot carry the flag for each cause, but we can consume locally and consume less. Locally sourced and produced products raise the value of our own intellect, services, and community.
Barnaby Jones is made right here in Brooklyn, NY, one at a time, by Kate's hands. You can be certain each bow-tie is unique and carefully crafted before arriving around your neck. Taking this idea a step forward, they initiated a "Fit-To-Be-Tied" campaign in which they donate 5% of every bow-tie to Free Arts NYC. Free Arts provides under-served children and families with a unique combination of educational arts and mentoring programs that help them to foster the self-confidence and resiliency needed to realize their fullest potential. The self-confidence and resiliency to reach one's fullest potential is echoed in their values and products they create.
For all this, I respect these two people deeply. Having been one known to dismiss ties or any formal accessory for my collar, there's an excitement in wearing something as fresh/crazy/cool as Barnaby Jones delivers.
Like a soul song reinvented, Barnaby Jones is a familiar touch in fresh skins for the daring, adventurous and confident. Available worldwide and outer-space.
Artwork by Roberto Salas, South Rocket Droogs
Photography by Micah Ross