My ‘mahram’ and neckties

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My journey with neckties began six decades ago while I worked at a bank that required bank employees to wear either the national dress for Kuwaitis or a suit with a tie for others. Since that time, the suit and my affection for cravats have remained constants in my life.


The most memorable tie purchase occurred in 1968, when I acquired one from Harrods for the hefty sum of 41 pounds sterling.

Even after 56 years, this remains a significant expenditure for me. Interestingly, the purchase wasn’t driven by generosity or a sudden windfall, but rather by a serious misreading of the price tag. Perhaps out of embarrassment or a desire to save face in front of my companions at the time, I refrained from admitting my mistake.

This incident underscores how personal pride and social dynamics can influence our decisions, even in something as seemingly trivial as buying a tie.

Amir Muharemi Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Croatia, had extended me an invitation to attend an exhibition at Al Hamra Tower that delved into the history of neckties and Croatia’s significant role in their evolution.

In his book about Kuwait, which he generously shared with his government and others curious about Kuwait’s history, particularly new ambassadors, he highlighted Croatia’s historical connection to neckties.

The word “Al-Karfa” derives from Croatia, the homeland of the Croats, who were among the first to wear a piece of cloth around their necks. This practice likely began in the seventeenth century during the Ottoman wars. In French, the tie was referred to as “crabat” or cravat, originating from the word “Croat”, the French name for Croatia.

The Croatian necktie captured the interest and admiration of the French aristocracy and swiftly became a fashion statement at the French court.

It soon spread throughout Europe, endorsed by King Louis XIV of France, thereby embedding the term and the tie itself into various European languages.

Today, Croatians celebrate their necktie heritage as a proud part of their national identity. October 18th marks a special day in Croatia dedicated to honoring the history of the necktie.

Interestingly, in Iran, neckties are often frowned upon or prohibited among officials and sometimes even the general populace due to their perceived association with colonial powers, symbolizing Western influence represented by countries like America.

Today, the global market value of neckties stands at approximately $3.5 billion and continues to expand. This growth is propelled by several factors including evolving fashion trends, a growing demand for formal attire, and an increasing preference for luxury and high-quality designer neckties.

The United States is a significant market, alongside Asia and the Pacific, driven by the rising number of professionals and the influence of Western fashion norms.

The advent of e-commerce has further stimulated sales, reaching new markets beyond traditional retail boundaries.

The manufacturing of neckties and their prestigious brands is concentrated in regions renowned for their textile industries, notably China, Italy, and India. Iconic names in the industry include Hermès, Brioni, Canali, Brooks Brothers, and Valtino, the latter of which, as mentioned earlier, made a significant dent in my budget back in 1968, leaving me financially stretched for the remainder of the month.

e-mail: [email protected]

By Ahmed alsarraf

This news has been read 876 times!

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