CyberOptix are putting ties back in style!

CyberOptix Tie Lab are producing beautifully crafted and hand screen-printed neckties, bow ties and scarves that are making customers young, old, hip or austere finding excuses to get dressed up.

Located in Detroit, Michigan, Bethany Shorb and her team are dedicated in creating a range of specialised yet affordable accessories with an emphasis on unique design.

Iced Vovo stumbled upon CyberOptix Tie Lab on Etsy and contacted Bethany to find out more:

Q: I read where you developed the shop after seeing a gap in the market, but what really excites you about neckwear to start up your own shop?

A: The main, and most exciting challenge we found was finding a way to make neckties something desirable for people who were more used to t-shirts as a form of self-expression, but who had to maybe update their look a little. Allowing an edgy sense of humor and a way to express yourself had people not only wanting these ties for their office jobs and special occasions, but also finding reasons to wear them outside of those parameters. We’ve heard more than once that people “don’t wear ties, but want to start now!” Our range goes from subtle, subversive patterns and botanical prints to black humor and visually stronger graphics. We also have a lot of tributes to our home of over a decade, Detroit, in all its former and current glory.

Q: How do you come up with the ideas for all the wonderful graphics?

A: They’re things I’d want to see on a garment, graphical representations of worlds that interest me, be it math and science, gallows humor, natural forms, animals, architecture or whatever. Each of my interests could be seen as niche and I find a lot of our customers are delighted to find something they never thought they’d see on a tie. Once I get an idea, I either start sketching right away, or sometimes I work the other direction, heavily researching old structures or subjects until I can source a beautiful, original and otherwise unavailable set of blueprints. They’re usually in pretty bad shape, so I digitally restore them, just me and a touchpad, until they’re clean and sharp and then find the most elegant areas to represent on a tie or scarf. Sometimes I have to move things around, but it’s usually pretty faithful to the original.

Other items are remixes from scientific material and that sort of thing, but there’s never a straight up photocopy of anything going on. It’s always got to be designed to fit the shape of the item for which it’s destined. One example of something sourced is the plans for the cockpit of the Apollo Command module, which has been seen on more than one actual astronaut thanks to our friend Bruce Moody. Some elements there had to be rearranged, and the source material was almost completely lost when we chanced upon a copy.

Another example are the vintage circuit boards. Those are vintage screens which we had purchased to reclaim to make new screens. Once I held them up to the light and saw what was on them, I knew they had to be saved. These were working components for electronics that are no longer made, from appliances to sound equipment. That’s a once in a lifetime find. Sometimes it’s as simple as photographing items I have in the studio and then working with the photo to make a strong graphic image, sometimes part of it, or sometimes all of it in a repeated pattern. Stag Party, Detroit Watertowers and Vintage Typewriter are three of those photo-to-design graphics. The watertowers aren’t really in the same geographical area – they’ve just been graphically arranged to look like they are.

Q: Are all the designs done by you or do you have a team working with you?

A: I do all of the designing on my own, with the exception of select artist collaborations with friends. Those collaborations are always noted in the descriptions. I do have a team that supports the creation, the packaging and posting and the customer service, but the designs are my own.

Q: You use silk, microfiber and even leather, where do you source all your lovely fabrics?

A: We have an excellent unofficial team member in New York who works with us to choose and dye fabric to our specifications and get everything to our standards. He works with a wonderful group of makers who produce these incredible colors for us, and they’re all hand dyed and mixed. (That’s why we end up with beautiful but slightly different dye lots each time – it’s an art, not a science!) We’re lucky to have found someone who’s made it his job to make sure everything’s going well for all involved – he’s indispensable to our workflow.

Our silk scarves are made for us in Thailand by a group of artists who I met when I was there. I got to pick the first scarves myself several years ago and we’ve been fortunate enough to work with them ever since, by mail. The leather is a by-product of the Brazilian meat industry, and is all from cows and goats. It’s from a group of farmers who reduce waste in their meat processing so that every part of the animal goes to good use. I hand dye it in my studio and then cut and finish the ties myself.

Q: What’s the easiest and the most difficult to work with?

A: Though the leather takes the longest, the silk scarves might be the most difficult to hand screen. Their handwoven nature is what I love about them, but the weave doesn’t take ink easily and you really have to get it exactly right or it goes in the bargain bin at our weekend market. In terms of storage, I’ll be honest, all of the ties are kind of difficult! You can’t stack them, you can’t really practically hang them – they take up a lot of room, they’re slippery and inventory is always pretty chaotic. It’s certainly not as easy as working with t-shirts or anything else you can fold into a square, flat shape. We’ve got it down to a workable and elegant solution but it took years to get it right.

Q: I just love the beautiful wooden gift box that you also have for sale, it really adds to the overall presentation and is a wonderful addition for customers to purchase to make a special gift, what prompted that idea?

A: I wanted something elegant but affordable, like the rest of my line. We wanted packaging that could add a touch of class without breaking the budget of most gift givers. We have these made for us in a huge number about once a year, so we’re able to keep the prices lower than if we had to buy smaller numbers more often.

Q: What degree of “custom made” orders do you offer to customers?

A: We have hundreds of fabric colors and inks, so the number of possible combinations is staggering. We don’t usually do custom designs for people since the start up for a new screen is often cost prohibitive. We’ve made very few exceptions for bigger orders, but the main requirement is that I have to like the design element in the first place! Just being asked to place a readymade logo in the middle of a tie isn’t going to inspire a collaboration. There has to be some design work involved.

Q: The toddlers and kids ties are also stylish and playful and come in an easy clip on-style, have these proven popular?

A: For weddings, they’re crucial. They’re family events, so all members of the family are potentially going to be involved and they all need dressing. They’re a little more difficult to print, but we continue to provide them to be sure our wedding clients can include their little guys and gals.

Q: What ideas, if any, do you have for expanding your range?

A: The leather ties are in the early stages of development, and as soon as the calendar clears a little more, I’ll be able to make enough to keep the stock numbers a little higher. They’re all one of a kind, really, so photo representations are more difficult and they take longer to list. There are a few other items coming, but until they’re launched, I’d hate to let the cat out of the bag. Keep watching – lots more to come!

Q: Is the Etsy shop the only place people can order your neckwear from or where else stocks your lovely products?

A: We have our own website, which is in the process of a massive overhaul but still workable http://cyberoptix.com/ and on that site you’ll see a link for ‘stores’ – our wonderful international retailers buy what strikes their fancy and you can buy them directly from there and get them in your hot little hands right away. We also have a market in Ferndale, MI – a suburb of Detroit – which we man on the weekends. It’s the Rust Belt Market at Woodward and Nine Mile and it’s full of some really talented artists and makers selling their wares – well worth a stop. Right across the street from there is our longtime retail supporter and friend Naka, who has a beautifully curated collection of artistic gifts and home items. We also occasionally do open studios and you can see when those happen by following our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CyberOptix

Beer men's silk necktie with hops, barely and wheat
Beer men’s silk necktie with hops, barely and wheat

 

Turntable record player silk necktie.
Turntable record player silk necktie.

 

Mod black skinny tie, Medic screen print.
Mod black skinny tie, Medic screen print.


Appollo

Cosmonaut microfiber satin necktie. Apollo-Soyuz men's silkscreen tie. Crimson red print.
Cosmonaut microfiber satin necktie. Apollo-Soyuz men’s silkscreen tie. Crimson red print.

 

Circuit board ascot. Self tie, mens cravat. Screen printed ascot. Your choice of colors. Vegan safe microfiber.
Circuit board ascot. Self tie, mens cravat. Screen printed ascot. Your choice of colors. Vegan safe microfiber.

 

Celestial ombre scarf. "Milky Way Galaxy" pashmina. Orchid purple ombre scarf. Constellation design, dark purple print.
Celestial ombre scarf. “Milky Way Galaxy” pashmina. Orchid purple ombre scarf. Constellation design, dark purple print.

 

Black and white damask bow tie. Self-tie freestyle bow tie. Silkscreened black print.
Black and white damask bow tie. Self-tie freestyle bow tie. Silkscreened black print.

 

Peacock Feather fair trade silk scarf. Electric blue ink on cinnamon or black silk.
Peacock Feather fair trade silk scarf. Electric blue ink on cinnamon or black silk.

 

3 Groomsmen microfiber neckties.
3 Groomsmen microfiber neckties.

 

Bridesmaid package - 4 silkscreened woven silk scarves, wedding discount, matching design.
Bridesmaid package – 4 silkscreened woven silk scarves, wedding discount, matching design.

 

4 bow ties. Silkscreened groomsmen ties, matching design - wedding multiple discount.
4 bow ties. Silkscreened groomsmen ties, matching design – wedding multiple discount.

 

Burgundy red leather necktie. Python pattern embossed lamb leather. Men's skinny tie. Laser cut super soft & buttery.
Burgundy red leather necktie. Python pattern embossed lamb leather. Men’s skinny tie. Laser cut super soft & buttery.

 

Distressed black pony fur leather necktie. Acid washed fur, skinny leather tie. Laser cut hair on cowhide. Deep warm brown black.
Distressed black pony fur leather necktie. Acid washed fur, skinny leather tie. Laser cut hair on cowhide. Deep warm brown black.

 

Cream leather bow tie. Men's lamb leather tie. Freestyle & adjustable. Self tie laser cut lamb skin bowtie.
Cream leather bow tie. Men’s lamb leather tie. Freestyle & adjustable. Self tie laser cut lamb skin bowtie.

 

Boys Poppy screenprinted necktie, silver ink. Toddler or big kids tie.
Boys Poppy screenprinted necktie, silver ink. Toddler or big kids tie.

 

Blond wood necktie box. Premium gift box. Natural pine tie box.
Blond wood necktie box. Premium gift box. Natural pine tie box.


So, if your looking for something unique to wear to your next special occasion be it work function, wedding, birthday-do, Spring Racing Carnival, or you just want to make a statement on a night out, then take a look at CyberOptix Tie Lab’s full range of wonderful accessories to find something to suit your taste and personality.

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