Shawn Reagan is all tied up in Primary Ties
A man designing for men was once a rarity in the fashion business, but Denver has several male-focused male designers -- including Shawn Regan, owner of Primary Ties, a men's neckwear shop that is wrapping itself around the stylish men of Denver. We recently caught up with Regan to talk about his work and the state of men's style here in Denver.
Photo by Colleen O'Brien Primary Ties design by Shawn Regan.
See also: Menswear Monday's Marques Pryor
Westword: Shawn, tell us about yourself. Where are you from?
Shawn Reagan: I was born and raised in Denver Colorado before moving to Portland, Oregon, in my early twenties. Eventually I found a way back to the great state of Colorado, and have been loving every moment. I have always loved design in its many forms, and have a background in graphic design and painting.
What is your take on the general state of men's style/fashion in Denver?
With Denver being in the middle of the U.S., some of the fresh trends from the coasts take a while to arrive, but there has been a great creative energy happening in Denver for the last few years. Artists and designers who once fled to the coasts to create are now excited to be working here. You can feel this energy around the city, and I think it will continue to build -- which is great news for men's fashion. Shops such as Steadbrook, Berkeley Supply and Cedar and Hyde are helping to form Denver's unique take on men's fashion and Colorado style in general.
What are your thoughts about the Denver fashion community, what's good, what could be improved?
I am personally very excited and encouraged by the Denver community. Everyone who I have encountered has been super-eager to give advice and collaborate. Like I mentioned in the previous answer, it is an exciting time to be a part of Denver's community, and you can sense that in the attitude of the individual creators. I really don't have a negative thing to say about what is happening.
A few years back I purchased a sewing machine with the hopes of designing and crafting a new backpack for myself. I hadn't sewn a stitch in my life, but for some reason I was confident that I could create a pack with ease. I was terribly wrong, however, and quickly realized that I needed to hone my sewing skills creating something with fewer zippers and seams. That is where the necktie came into play. I began making ties for myself as sewing practice, and after some months a good friend asked if I would make him a tie for a party. I obliged his request and this friendly tie-making caught on and continued until one day someone suggested that I sell my ties. A light bulb lit up in my head, and since then I've been trying to make a life as a tie-maker. I still hope to make myself a backpack one day.
What is your design process, what inspires you?
This may sound odd, but furniture is a significant inspiration to me, and plays a role when designing, specifically Danish mid-century furniture. I find myself attempting to mimic the clean lines that characterize this era of furniture in my ties. This may not be apparent when looking at my work, but it is definitely on my mind when I am designing and creating.
Where do you find the material for your ties?
I find most of my fabric from independent sources on the Internet. Some of it is vintage, and some is re-purposed. I try to make small batches of ties, so if I find a vintage Japanese kimono that only yields enough fabric for a few ties, each tie feels more unique.
I think the type of person who buys a Primary Tie is one that enjoys simple sophistication and design, and appreciates attention to detail.
If you could pick one famous person to wear one of your ties who would that be?
George Clooney. He's one classy man.
What advice would you give to men who would like to venture into the fashion business?
Don't be afraid to approach individuals you admire who have had success in the industry. I've found that most people are eager to help and share what they have learned -- and, of course, work hard.
My ties are available on my website Shopprimary.com and can be purchased at Svper Ordinary in the Source as well as Berkeley Supply in the Tennyson neighborhood. I also share a lot of my new work through my Instagram account @shopprimary. Some of that work won't be on my webshop, but is available upon request.