Neckwear that won’t get you in a knot

For Ben Shao, struggling to tie a Windsor knot on a dressy outfit is a huge waste of time.

Tired of seeing his friends vexed by the same issue, Shao launched his online-based Zipper Ties in December.

“I noticed my generation just doesn’t know how to tie ties properly,” said Shao, 30.

He’s hoping that Zipper Ties will appeal to young professionals who want to look formal but don’t know how — or don’t want to know how — to tie a tie.

The ties have a permanent knot and a zipper on the reverse side of the tie. After flipping open the latch on the zipper, the wearer can throw it over his head and adjust the neck size up or down. After securing the latch, the tie stays in place and is ready to rock and roll.

“It’s a way for people to have a professional look every single time,” he said. “You can’t tell the difference.”

The ties come in 40 styles and costs about $20 each. Shao said he’s looking to target the post-college crowd of snappy dressers who aren’t so crafty with a knot.

Shao, who grew up in Taiwan but has lived in Richmond the past seven years, got the idea while visiting his family last summer.

“I saw zipper ties in a department store” in Taiwan, he said. “It’s a pretty new thing.”

Although the zipper tie trend has been picked up by a few bigger companies, such as Casual Male, the Massachusetts-based chain that operates the Big & Tall stores, Shao said there wasn’t a local company serving the market.

“I looked online, and there wasn’t really anything else out there like it,” he said.

In November, he purchased a couple hundred ties from a manufacturer in Taiwan, set up a website and launched Zipper Ties for about $3,500.

For now, Shao sells the ties online and has them shipped to his home in Glen Allen. He said he’s sold about 20 ties within the past month.

Shao also said his ties cut down the time it takes people to get ready for work.

“It takes two seconds to do,” he said. “It will save two minutes every single morning.”

For now, Zipper Ties is just a side gig. Shao works as a pharmacist for Walgreens but hopes to one day take the business on full time.

By this summer, Shao hopes to sell his ties at mall kiosks at Short Pump Town Center and Virginia Center Commons.

“We’ll test it out there first and then expand to other malls,” he said.

He also plans to sell them to retail stores like Men’s Warehouse.

 

For Ben Shao, struggling to tie a Windsor knot on a dressy outfit is a huge waste of time.

Tired of seeing his friends vexed by the same issue, Shao launched his online-based Zipper Ties in December.

“I noticed my generation just doesn’t know how to tie ties properly,” said Shao, 30.

He’s hoping that Zipper Ties will appeal to young professionals who want to look formal but don’t know how — or don’t want to know how — to tie a tie.

The ties have a permanent knot and a zipper on the reverse side of the tie. After flipping open the latch on the zipper, the wearer can throw it over his head and adjust the neck size up or down. After securing the latch, the tie stays in place and is ready to rock and roll.

“It’s a way for people to have a professional look every single time,” he said. “You can’t tell the difference.”

The ties come in 40 styles and costs about $20 each. Shao said he’s looking to target the post-college crowd of snappy dressers who aren’t so crafty with a knot.

Shao, who grew up in Taiwan but has lived in Richmond the past seven years, got the idea while visiting his family last summer.

“I saw zipper ties in a department store” in Taiwan, he said. “It’s a pretty new thing.”

Although the zipper tie trend has been picked up by a few bigger companies, such as Casual Male, the Massachusetts-based chain that operates the Big & Tall stores, Shao said there wasn’t a local company serving the market.

“I looked online, and there wasn’t really anything else out there like it,” he said.

In November, he purchased a couple hundred ties from a manufacturer in Taiwan, set up a website and launched Zipper Ties for about $3,500.

For now, Shao sells the ties online and has them shipped to his home in Glen Allen. He said he’s sold about 20 ties within the past month.

Shao also said his ties cut down the time it takes people to get ready for work.

“It takes two seconds to do,” he said. “It will save two minutes every single morning.”

For now, Zipper Ties is just a side gig. Shao works as a pharmacist for Walgreens but hopes to one day take the business on full time.

By this summer, Shao hopes to sell his ties at mall kiosks at Short Pump Town Center and Virginia Center Commons.

“We’ll test it out there first and then expand to other malls,” he said.

He also plans to sell them to retail stores like Men’s Warehouse.

 

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Drew
Drew
10 years ago

Cool idea and great job on finding an unserved market. While my father taught me to tie a tie, his generation wore ties everyday. My generation barely wears ties anymore. This is both a threat and an opportunity to the company’s business model because while daily demand is falling, tie-tying expertise is also declining, thus facilitating demand.

Baxter
Baxter
10 years ago

Now if you could offer a tie with a proper “dimpled” knot, you might attract older customers too.

David
David
10 years ago

Geeze folks. I’m young. I tie my own ties. However, I don’t take text messages at dinner, play Angry Birds at a staff meeting, or believe that I’m good at everything just because my mother told me I was. Maybe I’m old at heart. Interesting business idea, but sad social commentary.

Ellen
Ellen
10 years ago

Sheesh – learn to tie a tie for heaven’s sake! It’s not rocket science, and in my opinion, it’s just something a guy needs to learn. I’ve mastered putting on a bra every day without some special, time-saving design.

Ties are one of the few items a man can wear that really show off their personal style. Pick a good tie, wear it proudly, and learn to tie and untie it. There’s probably an app out there for all the guys that wouldn’t know where to begin in the first place. I agree with David above, sad social commentary.

Brandon
Brandon
10 years ago

So….its the 21st Century version of the “clip-on tie”.

joe
joe
10 years ago

problem. knot area will get dirty when it never varies. also, you can just slide a regular tie over your head without untying it. cant wait for hands free toliet paper to come out so i dont have to stop texting!

Chris
Chris
10 years ago

I have seen these for children and think they are great! Just think of how much time i can save every morning. Tying a tie is so cumbersome, this will save me seconds.
Now if only they can come up with some pre-chewed food. It takes forever to eat dinner these days!
And while i am on it, whatever happened to the flying car? Shouldnt we have that by now?

jd
jd
10 years ago

Shao explains how to adjust the neck size, but what about the length? I wear a tie everyday, but have to assume that a 5′ 6″ guy wears a tie shorter than a 6′ 1″ guy.