By David Michael Newstead.
Knot You is a new website (similar to Netflix) focusing on Men’s vintage accessories: things like ties and cufflinks and pocket squares, which offer a unique way to present oneself in our otherwise mass produced world. This weekend, I spoke to its founder, Devlon Waddell, and asked about the launch of his business as well as the importance of cultivating a classic look.
David Newstead: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Devlon Waddell: I am a husband, father, writer, youth advocate and now curator of all things vintage at Knot You.
David: What do you like most about vintage apparel? What does it make you think about?
Devlon: What I like most about it is probably what it makes me think about; for a couple reasons. First, as a writer, I’m a babe of the Harlem Renaissance and I think that sophistication has bled into my personal narrative. The other part is that it sort of reinforces my connection to my family. Style seems to be inherent in my family. I guess I just feel like it’s a continuation of a tradition.
David: Say more about your family tradition? Any connection to Harlem Renaissance?
Devlon: There weren’t, necessarily, any traditions to speak of. In retrospect, it just becomes increasingly obvious that, as a family, we understood that the way a man presents himself is important. I think everything is in some way interconnected. My family (of the same era) to that time is probably most connected by the times in which they all lived. Being a Black man in America isn’t easy (intentional understatement), but, then and now, to carry oneself in a dignified and sophisticated manner speaks volumes to the level of respect one commands, I believe.
David: In your recent preview video for Knot You, you show off your knot-tying skills. Out of curiosity, how’d you learn to tie a tie?
Devlon: Different Strokes. I guess I was about 9 or 10 and there was an episode about well, tying a tie. I’m sure there was a broader moral. In adulthood, I started experimenting with different knot styles.
David: Do you have a favorite? I’ve always found tying a tie fairly difficult.
Devlon: Windsor or Half Windsor. Depending on the Tie…
David: So, what inspired Knot You and what motivated you to follow through with the idea?
Devlon: I’ve spent most of my adult life working retail. And, obviously I would always consider how to do it better. When I first started vintage shopping the idea of a well merchandised, affordable vintage menswear shop was always in the back of my mind. After engaging a little more deeply into social media and online selling the idea was born. The online iteration is definitely a precursor to my brick and mortar dream.
David: In our previous conversations, I had characterized this as a “Netflix for Ties”. Is that an oversimplification?
Devlon: I don’t think so. Knot You is intentionally as simple as I could make it. I do like to think that it’s much cooler than Netflix.
David: Can you describe to me how the business is going to work for your clients? What’s the ideal experience?
Devlon: It’s really simple. The client subscribes to the site (for only $17 a month), fills out the style profile, then he will receive, for as long as he remains a member, a monthly package that includes a tie, pocket square and cuff links or tie pin/clip. The ideal experience is that a member loves his monthly packages and refers his friends. There’s also a referral program. If a new member lists a current member as a “referrer” that referring member gets an additional package the following month for FREE.
David: Men get to keep their monthly packet? Or they have to return it?
Devlon: It’s theirs to keep!
David: So, where do you get all this apparel that you’re going to be sending to people? Are you out hunting for more stuff all the time or is there a massive closet in your house filled with thousands of pieces of vintage clothes?
Devlon: HA! I had always been hunting, personally. I think that’s probably a big part of where the idea stems. I haven’t quite made it to the thousands yet… A man can dream.
David: Who are your clients and why do you think they want vintage accessories?
Devlon: My client is the one that appreciates style, sophistication and nostalgia. This client either already wears vintage, or wants to, but doesn’t know how to get started. Knot You makes including a little classic style in the wardrobe really easy.
David: When does Knot You launch and where should people go to check it out? I picture this being a good Father’s Day present. Or like something cool for wives or girlfriends to sign their partner up for.
Devlon: Knot You is already on Facebook, so folks can go ‘like’ it now. We’re also in the process of building a presence on Tumblr and Instagram. The site officially launches on June 1st. You can check us out then at http://knotyou.net/
David: It pretty much lends itself to some great Instragram photos.