It all started with a wedding. Ashley Shepherd’s wedding, to be exact. The designer was on the lookout for “stylish and fun bow ties,” she tells us, but couldn’t find the perfect accessory for her husband-to-be. “So I threw the towel in and decided to make them myself,” Shepherd says. The result is a classically bold shape in a blue and white floral print. It was so popular she knew she had the beginnings of a successful business. “I found myself surrounded by so many inspiring prints and patterns. I was on the right path and in the right place.”
Today, Hank In Chief makes ready-to-wear and custom bow ties, pocket squares and cuff links. In an array of eye-catching cotton prints, from classic (gingham, stripes and a smorgasbord of spots), to quirky (metallic pineapples and vintage biplanes), each bow tie is handmade by Shepherd in her Sydney studio. But it’s the custom business – whether for weddings, events or everyday life – that has really taken off. “Having been there myself I do love being able to help my customers find the perfect fabric, seeing their faces when their idea has come to life,” says Shepherd.
Each bow tie comes with a name and a story and is inspired by an era from the 1920s through to the 1950s. “A handsome and classic period that captures the essence of Hank in Chief,” Shepherd says, adding, “there is definitely a theatrical aspect to what I do.”
Theatrical, yet wearable. Shepherd’s bright and bold bow ties are the perfect counterpoint to sombre suiting. “Men can be adventurous when it comes to accessories and I love how it can bring out their personality,” Shepherd says. “There’s nothing more handsome than a sharp suit with a classic white shirt and a bright spotty bow tie.”