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 its spring 2018 menswear show — and they were promptly sold out. On Instagram, the BoloTie hashtag has 50,446 posts and counting of both guys and gals being equally ironic and serious (or seriously ironic) in their style choice. On the internet, searches for "bolo tie amazon" have increased 120 percent over the past year, according to Google Trends.
The word "bolo" is derived from boleadora, an Argentine lariat or rope used to lasso. The neckwear's actual origin is a mystery, but they have been traced back to at least the late 1940s.
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 Billy Murray, Johnny Depp, Ed Ruscha, Bruno Mars and Macklemore.
"Bolos are a really simple and meaningful way to test the 'accessory waters' without going into full blown jewelry," said Hayley Faw, co-founder of the jewelry brand Apse Adorn, which has been making bolos for about two years.
"This summer, we definitely have seen a lot of grooms purchase these for their groomsmen and/or themselves for their big day," she said. "We even designed seven custom bolos for one groom who wanted each of his groomsmen to sport a different pendant style.
Investment analyst Evan Ratner and Vinnie Buehler, an associate at a law firm, 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 said. The idea came together last summer over drinks 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 added, "but friends also have enjoyed loosening them up and wearing them with a tee."