What to buy the man who has everything?  Well, we can guarantee he hasn’t got one of these!, and we can also guarantee he will find great pleasure and pride in owning one – and not least because all the proceeds go to charity.  

Most men of a certain age nearly always have a cupboard full of old, forgotten ties – once favoured, now never worn, and yet never thrown away.  And if you’re too young to have amassed your own cupboard full, then your father almost certainly has a collection of splendid ones!

Our company takes those favourite forgotten old ties and transforms them into a beautiful, bespoke, made-to-measure waistcoat, that’s totally unique to you.

It’s extremely rare in the fashion business for a product to be utterly unique, but our Waistiecoats are exactly that – no two Waistiecoats are ever alike because it’s you that supply the ties!  You can choose to be elegant, nostalgic, vintage, or simply outrageous – it’s all down to your choice of ties.

Our business began at a New Year’s Eve Party.  A mate was mourning the loss of virtually his entire tie collection, which his wife had taken to the charity shop.  Argument raged – He said “my ties are precious – they have huge sentimental value to me”, and she said  “but you never wear them – they’re just cluttering up your cupboard”, and he said “you just don’t understand – how would you like it if I emptied your shoe cupboard and took them all to Oxfam?”  Opinion was polarised between the boys and the girls – the girls loved their old shoes and we loved our old ties!

Later, a debate on possible alternative uses for old ties ensued and my idea of waistcoats was meet with such ridicule that I determined to make a couple of Waistiecoats from my old ties – and prove them all wrong!  Our seamstress cousin figured out how that might best be done, and my brother and I debuted our Waistiecoats at a Black tie Awards Night in the city.  We were overwhelmed with the response.  Our Waistiecoats were admired, and better still, coveted! – especially when people realised the waistcoats were actually made out of our own ties .  You only have to see the news reels about Gareth Southgate and Philip Neville to realise that waistcoats themselves are definitely an up and coming fashion trend, and it turned out that all these men all had cupboards full of ties, just like we did, and loved the idea of doing something with them.  Orders from family, friends, and friends of friends flooded in and so Waistiecoats as a business was born.

It took a while to solve the technical problems of making Waistiecoats and it took a lot of experimentation to get the tailoring process right.  It’s definitely not easy and it’s very time-consuming – each of the six ties (seven for those wide of girth!) for a typical Waistiecoat has to be carefully unpicked and ironed out.  Each tie then has to be interfaced separately so that it hangs properly.  The ties are then cut and sewn into panels to match the exact measurements of the customer.  At that stage, the Waistiecoat is then assembled before the final garment is tailored with your own choice of style, buttons and the colour of the satin lining.  Waistiecoats are beautifully made – they’re definitely not some cheap off-the-shelf novelty item.  Each Waistiecoat costs £150, which we believe is a very fair reflection of the hours of detailed craftsmanship required.  It’s also a fraction of the price you would pay for a tailor (to try!) to make you one in the UK or Europe.  £100 of this purchase price is donated directly to Sightsavers.

Finding a tailor capable of working to the required standard took a great deal of research and we did a worldwide internet trawl with a longlist of tailors from as far afield as Bolivia, Thailand, China,  India, Turkey, Greece and Sri Lanka.  After examining lots and lots of sample garments, I drew up a final shortlist of two Indian tailors and set off on a very eventful trip to India to check them out.  I’ll never forget charging round in these dilapidated tuk-tuks, weaving in and out of the perpetual traffic jam which covers most of downtown Delhi.  In the end, we were lucky to find a lovely small family tailoring company in Delhi to whom we pay a very ‘fair trade’ price, excellent by Indian standards, and who craft our Waistiecoats beautifully with enormous attention to quality and detail.

But Waistiecoat Ltd itself is also unique in a very different way, because we donate all the profits – indeed virtually all the income to a magnificent charity called Sightsavers International  – Everyone at Waistiecoat is a volunteer – so we take no salaries, no expenses, we have virtually no overheads and every penny is cared for to maximise the return to Sightsavers.  This is the way I’ve always believed  a real charity fundraising outfit should operate. 

We chose Sightsavers because they do almost miraculous things with very small amounts of money.  Cataract operations which actually restore the sight of otherwise permanently blind people cost as little as £25.  A simple course of antibiotics costing just £2 saves children from suffering the agony of literally scratching themselves blind from trachoma – more than a million will suffer this fate in 2020 alone – permanently blind from a disease we can prevent for just £2 and whose threat has been eradicated in the West for decades. Sightsavers has pledged to eradicate trachoma by 2025.

So, when you buy a Waistiecoat, you can wear it with pride, knowing that by purchasing it you, personally, have directly saved the sight of dozens of people, young and old in the poorest parts of the world.  From each £150 Waistiecoat purchased, we donate £100 directly to Sightsavers on your behalf, and they will write to you and acknowledge your support with great thanks. The remaining £50 almost(!) covers the direct costs of manufacture, customs duty, VAT, shipping and postage, but we’re happy to absorb the modest shortfall as our own personal contribution.

Ordering a Waistiecoat is simple – you just click through to our website HERE and follow the instructions for giving us your measurements.  We ask you to spend a little time to get these right and that way we can ensure your Waistiecoat will fit perfectly.  You’ll then be asked to choose your preferred Waistiecoat style, your choice of buttons and satin lining and that’s it!  You complete the order, send us in six or seven ties depending mainly on your size(!), and we normally ship you your finished Waistiecoat with 21 days.

You’ll enjoy wearing your Waitiecoat and talking about it – everyone does,  because the ties you’ll have chosen will mean something to you and it’s fun to reminisce about where and when you wore them last.  And having a Waistiecoat also giuves you uniquely special feeling when you look down and realise that, by bringing your old ties out of the dark and into the light of useful life, you – personally – have done exactly the same thing for some of the very poorest people in the world.