Everyone wants to know who exactly are William and James? The first guess is that both of these men are somehow related to us. Are they real? Fictitious? Ancestors? William + James was inspired by the lives and work of two of the most influential men of the 20th century - William Edward Burgdhart DuBois and James Baldwin.
Like the intellectual iconoclasts we’re named after, our haberdashery focuses on providing an idealized look for the superior man. Our idea is that well-dressed men are outliers who are the change that they want to see in the world. We promote a philosophy of exceptionalism, intellectual pursuit – a philosophy of excellence.
We believe that dressing up is an art and articulation – of the cultural heritage, identity and dynamic balance of masculine and feminine within all of our patrons. William + James boils down to one concept – unique potential. Like Du Bois and Baldwin before us, let us go forth and be great.
William + James was established in 2014 by Shantrelle P. Lewis, a curator in the most traditional sense of the word. Originally from New Orleans, Shantrelle grew up immersed in an environment of Southern aesthetics, well-dressed and well-read men. A fourth generation HBCU graduate, her great-grandfather Nathaniel Lewis was a scholar at Tuskegee Institute and later became a professor at Southern University A&M. Shantrelle’s appreciation for dapper gents later evolved into The Dandy Lion Project, the renowned film and photography platform celebrating the Global Black Dandy. Founded in 2010, the Dandy Lion Project has traveled nationally and internationally, received press in outlets including BBC, The Washington Post, NPR, The Baltimore City Paper, the Michael Eric Dyson Show and Blackbook Magazine. Having contributed so much to the discourse on the Black Dandy, Ms. Lewis is now recognized as an expert on African Diasporan Dandyism. William + James is an expression of her love for all things well dressed, masculine, intellectual and Diasporan.
We believe there is no such thing as being too dressed up. You deserve to be complimented. You deserve to look like a million bucks or a few dollars more.
We believe that there is a fine line between luxury and affordability. We price our products with that in mind.
We believe in the balance that is created when masculinity and femininity are in harmony with one another. That is why the New Age Dandy reigns supreme.
We admire intelligence. Smart people make the world go ’round. Books, the old fashion kind that live in libraries and Timbuktu and stores in Union Square, are meant to smell new like fresh linen or antiquity…and ought to be read by turning pages, not by touching a screen.
We create items that when worn, inspire compliments, boost self-esteem, and cause people to smile. Smiles are contagious.
The world is small. We believe that you should fill your passport with stamps. Vacations are for visiting ancient shrines, sailing up river by boat, savoring international cuisine and exclaiming “salud!” over spiced rum.
Tell a joke. Compliment a stranger. Love someone. Let someone love you.
Create the world that you want to live in. Be the change that you want to see.
“The worker must work for the glory of his handiwork, not simply for pay; the thinker must think for truth, not for fame.”
― W.E.B. Du Bois
At William + James, our ties are made-to-order. While we use standard sizing and don’t create ties made specifically to your precise neck size, we do make our ties based on order which means that they aren’t ready to wear or mass produced. Keeping this in mind, please allow 5 – 7 business days for your order to be processed, your neck wear to be constructed and shipped out to you. We’ll make certain that it’s worth your wait and while!
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Made in New Orleans
William + James is made in the Southern city of New Orleans, Louisiana. The mystical city has served as a cosmopolitan mecca of culture, history and revelry since the 18th century. Each tie is handmade by a local manufacturer with years of experience in creating high end fashion and experience in the bow tie business.
Something About Us is Just Different
William + James bow ties are both vintage and modern. We shy away from flamboyance. The prints are a diverse array of fabric from fashion centers around the world.
Our cuts are modern and slightly slimmer than the average size bowtie. Instead of the standardized hardware on typical bow ties, William + James are fastened together by individualized buttons. The neck sizes range from Small to Extra Large and will fit the necks of the typical tie wearer.
The prints are vibrant, dynamic and yet classic and minimalist. The colors reflect the palettes of the university auditorium, start up lab, the museum, the family farm and the bustling international metropolis of the Diaspora.