Persistence … best describes the humble beginnings of the ‘commercial neckwear company’ known as Knits & Knotts. As a child, the future neckwear connoisseur, Augustine Emuwa’s interest in fashion became a mutual introduction from travels with his father to England and Nigeria. Gaining a keen sense for fabric, quality and detail sparked Augie’s attention towards a fellow neckwear designer whose start in fashion was quite similar – Fashion pioneer, Ralph Lauren. Inspired by Ralph’s story, Augie decided to fulfill his contribution to the world of design by creating Knits & Knotts.
As persistence resurfaced, he took the initiative by enrolling in sewing classes to give his customers a more tailor-made product that authentically represented the vision behind Knits & Knotts. That said, K&K is nothing short of extraordinary, satisfying its clientele with couture-style bowties tailored to fit the entire family.
Row A Seat 1 has the ‘knotty’ exclusive with Mr. K&K himself. Check out the deets below as Augie opens up about his travels as a young lad to his love for the importance of detail and company presentation … now let’s get knotty!!!
RowASeat1: Augustine Emuwa is …
Augustine of Knits & Knotts: Truthfully, who is Augustine? Well, I’m definitely a designer; I love Menswear to the fullest! Gosh, I’ve been in love with this since day one, since my first trip to England as a kid, my father took me there on the way to Nigeria. And I always wanted to stick out which is why Augie is definitely a unique soul, a unique spirit! The menswear thing/the clothes thing has always been a way for me to let that shine through. Augie is definitely a stylish person, period, just in terms of the way I see things and details, may not be the best dressed in the room, but I can critique somebody apart just by knowing what I’m looking at and I feel like that’s a gift! A father, a husband, an entrepreneur, a son, a role model, a sophisticated person who has some edge, and definitely not from the better part of the city of Chicago or the US, but I made it to a better part … So, I’m a person of progress!
Augustine: It depends (sometimes) I may feel like anything from Harry Belafonte to Tupac, I mean the list goes on. Literally, other times I feel like everything, it just depends on the mood I’m in I feel a release. I feel like jazz is playing in the background, then I feel like hip hop is rocking in the background then I feel like a child again. I feel like an old man, someone I want to be, someone I aspire to be, it’s just so fluid when I’m on the machine.
RowASeat1: As a child, you were introduced to fashion very early, how did fashion affect your lifestyle?
Augustine: Fashion affected my lifestyle because it gave me an outlet to Chicago (100s, Laflin Street, Englewood) to be who I really am, and who I feel like I should be based on being in an unstable situation earlier on. Despite whomever I had to be around because of moving from one place to another, I always had something that was personal to me and that’s how I was recognized by being a little bit different, and just trying to be unique – always trying to be unique.
RowASeat1: Why are details in Menswear important?
Augustine: (Tuh) Menswear is still about the man looking masculine, and looking strong. Our garments, our pieces, there are certain rules to that, unfortunately people want to break the rules all the times and I think that you should break the rules, but you can break the rules with those details. It’s hard to break those rules with the cut of a suit or the cut of pants because all those things have been done that way for a certain reason – its to make the body look good! As a man, you wan to look and feel a certain way and I feel that menswear embodies that, but you can play around with some of the details!
RowASeat1: How important is Ralph Lauren’s role in fashion to you?
Augustine: Ralph Lauren’s role is amazingly important because Ralph Lauren has proven himself to be the most versatile, effective and efficient menswear designer. Covering all bases from design to business and high fashion to couture, even his price points he covers all the bases so that no one is left out. He didn’t come with the traditional plan; he recognized his target audience, studied his competition and decided to be a person who has masterminded the inclusion of everybody, which is amazing! Honestly, I’ve been wearing Ralph Lauren since I’ve been rocking Air Max, some of the same polos that I had back in the day I wear with two-button blazers, and you’ve never seen a person do that before in menswear (ever, I don’t believe)!
Augustine: I love women in menswear! And it takes a special woman to do it the right way and I say that because when women get into menswear, it’s a certain type of guy or look that they like and they try to replicate that look of that man. But women must understand that each man carries his own level of persona, demeanor, his own character and that plays out in his clothes. In terms of what women bring to menswear is that extra boost of confidence that I think men need to step their game up. Men are getting into fashion more and getting into their looks more, but I feel women put that extra stamp on it, especially if it’s a woman who knows what she’s doing and they’re a lot of women out here who knows what they’re doing!
RowASeat1: Entering the world of fashion has taught me …
Augustine: It is a business … F your creativity. Your creativity is the easy part of it the business part of it and the building the relationships part of it are the processes. How do you get an order out, how quickly an online customer receives their package, those are things that sustain you as a business so you can stay in fashion. Fashion isn’t on the Internet all night looking for inspiration trying to work on a garment when the math doesn’t make sense. Fashion is taking that creativity, being creative and truly working with what you have to actually gain something so you can sustain a business and allow your creativity to come out!
Augustine: Presentation is extremely important and its something I battle back and forth with my partner/accountant/wife because she’s more of a business-minded person, very corporate-minded so everything has to make sense. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile with the presentation and you may not see the return on that investment until later on when someone remembers your brand down the line, but presentation is everything because you’re selling your brand, whatever you want your brand to be then that’s what you’re selling. You have to sell it from everything you do, from the bows you put on your boxes to the tags you place on your garments, everything has to look a certain way and align with your vision of the company and the brand!
RowASeat1: A bowtie to a man is …
Augustine: A bowtie to a man is like a wine glass to a bottle of Cabernet. YOU GOT TO HAVE IT IN YOUR CLOSET and guys always say ‘I don’t know if I can wear a bowtie, or I can’t wear a bowtie,’ unfortunately you’ve got the wrong bowtie. You got a bowtie that didn’t fit the symmetries of your face, and it’s so many variations of bowties out there, and it’s only to be worn at certain occasions, but there comes a time when formally you should at least put on a bowtie.
Augustine: Now I can definitely answer this. My style is a little bit of all worlds combined, a little bit of edge, little bit of sophistication, but a lot of quality and accessible (in terms of neckwear) I feel like we do it better than most people I’ve seen and those we don’t do it better than they charge at least two to three times the price point. I feel like we do it just as well as them but our price points are more accessible and that’s the charm of the business. As for me, I’m sophisticated, rebellious, outside of the box, creative, unique, affordable with super quality, and nostalgic because I’m a history buff as well. Every time I make a piece I always think about history because I want to make a piece that’s still classic, this way it can be reintroduced if you wanted to pull it out in the next couple decades.
RowASeat1: What’s next for Knits & Knotts?
Augustine: What’s next for Knits & Knotts, are some avant-garde changes with our online space. We want to become the Nike iD of neckwear, we want to get more of those custom pieces to the clients and empower our clients. For example, we’re in talks of featuring a ‘fabric of the month’ this way the customer can get a custom made slim tie or bowie to give our clients more power. We definitely want to get more into the trade shows and spreading a stronger awareness overseas about the brand. We’ve been doing a ton of research on the kids line, so we’ll introduce another collection for kids … I see a lot of things on the horizon for Knits & Knotts!