01 Jul TIE STORY
As published in LAKE MAGAZINE, Resort Lifestyle On Lake Michigan
Late Summer 2004, South SHORE STYLE
Text by JEFF KUMOREK
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A funny thing happened when I went to David’s Men’s Clothier in Valparaiso to interview Mark Roscoe about his exciting ties. Walking into the store at the appointed time, I observed Mark arranging his ties and I introduced myself. Mark was impeccably dressed and looks like some successful trial lawyers I know. I also thought, “This guy is so attractive he could be a fashion model.” It turns out he’s both.
Mark has been involved in the fashion industry in Chicago for 20 years as a model and an actor. He has worked for the Ford Agency as well as the Shirley Hamilton Agency. He is also a practicing attorney. Five years ago, Mark started designing haute couture fashion for Chicago women when he saw a need in the market. “I can’t tell you how many times a client complained to me that she went to a social event and saw the same dress on someone else.” Mark’s female clients now have the opportunity to have something totally unique that fits perfectly.
There is a lot of work in the process. Mark explains that he discusses the event with the client, what she has in mind, and fabric selection. Talking through the outfit takes six weeks and involves about six fittings. Without getting too technical, Mark says the dress is made in muslin before the first fitting, then it’s cut in the fabric for more fittings until the dress is complete. Mark has a portfolio of his designs to help visualize a concept. He is an admitted traditionalist who favors a classic style “that might be worn by Audrey Hepburn,” he says. Mark’s couture dresses cost $1500 to $4500.
By now, even I’m starting to get confused. This is a tie story set in a men’s clothing store, and we’re talking couture fashion. But I am leading somewhere, because it turns out Mark was making a dress for a female client who asked him if he could make something for her husband to match her gown. Mark says his tie business was based on guilt. The women “may feel better about the price of the dress if they buy something for their husbands.”
Mark has been selling ties at David’s since January of this year. David Shurr has sold 50 ties himself. Mark is obsessed with the quality of production. Every tie is handmade by either himself or his assistant, Susan Schiller, in their Valparaiso studio; nothing is outsourced. It takes six hours to complete one tie. Sometimes customers require an extra long tie, and they can be custom fit. Another advantage is that he uses fabrics from all over, including Italy, France, India, and Asia. One of Mark’s personal favorites is a silk from Thailand. Mark buys only enough fabric to make two or three ties, each outfitted with a button slide. You fasten the tie to the shirt, but it slides as you move, maintaining a perfect appearance.
Would he ever consider adding suits or shirts to his line? “Other people do that well, and I don’t want to over-extend myself so that the quality suffers in the dress or tie line,” he says. Mark likes making ties because ties make a strong statement without uttering a word. And ties have great versatility; you can wear one with any outfit.
I showed David Shurr a Mark Roscoe tie I particularly liked and was thinking of buying. David suggested I consult with Mark about the right tie for me, since he was the expert. When Mark returned, I asked for his advice. He looked at me, pondered the 20 ties on the table, and picked the same one I had. I was ecstatic. Mark says he loves the tie, and it’s so new he hadn’t had time to put a label on it. As I write this, I am eagerly awaiting the return of the labeled tie so that I can wear it to a party at Millennium Park in Chicago.
Mark Roscoe sells ties for $135, and they can only be purchased at David’s Men’s Clothier, 113 Lincolnway, Valparaiso, IN. Mark’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.