SkinTie – sustainable and high-tech ties

Earlier this month I got an invitation to attend a media event for the latest version of SkinTie, a San Francisco startup founded by Christophe Schuhmann. I hadn’t heard of the company, which he says is a bridge between fashion and tech, which I’ll explain later. What caught my eye is that the ties are “made out of sustainable collagen from fish scales.”  Yes, it’s sustainable and biodegradable.

I wasn’t able to attend the event but I did get the opportunity to meet Christophe in person at his apartment in the Presidio and take some photos of his various unisex ties. They are about half the length of regular neckties and meant to be worn against the skin (akin to a scarf) – thus SkinTie.

Here’s a photo of a model wearing a collagen SkinTie. The tie isn’t much longer than what you see in the photo.

Collagen SkinTie

SkinTie Origins

Christophe says he got the idea for wearing the tie like this by accident. Four years ago, he was invited to attend a party with a “junior prom” theme. He’s not a fan of wearing a necktie with a buttoned-up shirt so he decided to wear the tie inside his shirt. Everyone at the party loved the look and some of the guys took off their ties and wore them inside, too. (See his YouTube video interview on French American TV.

As the evening wore on, Christophe realized that he didn’t like the feeling of the tie touching his belly. So the next day, he cut all of his ties and began wearing them inside his shirts. He wore his ties like this every day for two weeks and got such great feedback, he decided to start a company in December 2014, registering a trademark and creating a website and accounts with Shopify, Instagram and other social media.

His initial version was a clippable tie that used hooks and eyes to attach in the back. The idea was to tie it once and then hook it together in the back. Here’s what it looked like.

Floral Backdrop/Flowers Photography Backdrop/Pink Flowers Backdrop

Sustainable fabric

Christophe later began exploring a sustainable tie and discovered a fabric made from collagen. Taiwanese company Weavism makes the fabric from collagen fiber derived from the Taiwan milk fish scale. The collagen SkinTie fabric is made from what Weavism calls the next generation of “bionic fiber,” a blend of “collagen peptide amino acid from recycled fish scale and viscose fiber, which is 100% biodegradable.”

This is a photo I took of three of his collagen ties. The fabric is soft and feels nice against the skin. The ties have magnets in the back instead of hooks which makes it easier to wear.

Collagen SkinTies

Christophe found out about the fabric when saw this collagen scarf, the precursor to the viscose blend, and he was immediately taken with the softness of the fabric and its sustainability. He gets the fabric from Taiwan and a family-owned business in San Francisco manufactures them. He is selling them as a pre-ordered custom product. You send your neck and torso measurement and the tie is made for your body.

Collagen scarf

Christophe sent me this photo showing himself and model Jamie Panizales wearing his product at the annual SkinTie fashion party last weekend. You can see the length of the tie on Jamie.

Christophe Schuhmann of SkinTie and Jamie Panizales

I’ve been thinking a lot about the environmental impact of the fashion industry, which is the second biggest polluting industry in the world, according to the documentary The True Cost (the oil industry is the top polluter). A company making ties from a sustainable fabric seems like a good thing – especially when so many clothes end up in a landfill (see my post Clothes Closet Confessions).

Here’s an image of a model wearing the collagen SkinTie, which the SkinTie website touts as 100 percent sustainable and biodegradable.

kinky Curly Lace Wigs

Fashion and Tech

Where does tech come in ? Well, SkinTie has also introduced SmartTie – a tie with a transmitting chip. Here’s what the chip looks like.

Transmitting chip in tie

The tie wearer uploads the information he or she wants to share in the cloud. Then using an app, you scan the tie with your phone and download the information in the cloud. Christophe says each owner can define what they want to share, which could include images and PDFs.

Here’s what he showed me on his phone. When you scan a SmartTie, you can access the tie wearer’s info. Christophe thinks it could be new and unique way for companies to release information about a new product launch.

App for SkinTie

Christophe is attempting to do quite a lot with his company – create a trend for his style of tie, create a sustainable product and incorporate tech. It’s an ambitious proposition. By day, he works for a tech company in San Francisco and if SkinTie takes off, he hopes to pass it along to his grandchildren.

Meanwhile, SkinTie is based in his apartment where he stores the various SkinTie collections….

SkinTies in Christophe Schuhmann's apartment

… and enjoys the view of the bay from his window.

View of the bay from window in Presidio

Fabric Belt for My Spring for Cotton Dress


Do you make accessories for your sewing projects? The most I’ve done is make a couple of belts – one ribbon belt with a fabric covered buckle for my Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress and two fabric belts to match the dresses from vintage patterns. My latest fabric belt is the contrasting hot pink belt I made to go with the dress I made for the Spring for Cotton sewalong organized by Lucky Lucille. And this time I took accessories one step further and put together a fascinator by attaching a feathered headpiece to a hair band, which I’ll blog about later. 

DIY - fabric belt -

Because I didn’t actually start sewing the dress until the last week of the sewalong (I made a muslin first), I didn’t have much time to make the belt. I had to sew it after I got home from work so I could photograph the ensemble the following day. The deadline for photos was April 30. Because I the time crunch, I decided to take my chances and improvise a short cut to make the belt.

I used the same fabric as the underlining of my dress – this hot pink cotton from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. Here’s a detail of two fabrics. I love how the pink pops through the eyelet fabric.

Bodice with lining attached

For the belt backing, I used 3/4″ (1.9 cm) buckram ban-roll that I got at Britex Fabrics. I work a few blocks from Britex so I can easily pop over there during my lunch break or after work. I told Natalie, the notions floor manager, that I was going to make a fabric-covered belt and I needed some belt backing. She suggested using ban-roll. I decided to give it a try. It’s wasn’t very thick but is stiff yet flexible.

My short cut was using double-sided fusible tape (see photo below) – to avoid basting. It has a paper backing. You iron it on your fabric, then peel off the paper, place the other piece of fabric on top of the fusible and iron those pieces together.

I cut the end of the ban-roll so it would have a triangular shape on the end. I cut two pieces of fabric – the first one would go partially around the ban-roll and the second would be ironed so it would be exactly the same width as the first layer. The second piece goes directly on top of the first and then they are top stitched together.

In this photo, I’ve placed the fusible on top of the ban-roll. Then I ironed the fusible to the ban-roll.

Belt materials - ban-rol - fusible web -

Then I peeled off the paper from the fusible tape, folded the fabric over the ban-roll and ironed it to the fusible.

Fabric-covered belt -

Next I ironed another piece of fusible to the wrong side of the belt….

Fabric belt - part two -

… removed the paper…

Fabric belt -peeling  fusible -

… and ironed the second layer to the first one. They sort of stuck together but not so much at the point because of the folds there.

Fabric belt-2 layers together -

I moved my needle over to the left and used my blind hem foot to top stitch the belt together. I sewed slowly because I could tell that my fabric layers were shifting slightly – uh, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to skip the basting. I used my fingers to make sure the fabric didn’t get out of alignment. If I make a fabric-covered belt again, I think I’ll use the fusible for the first layer but baste the second layer to the first – less shifting that way.

Fabric belt stitched -

Then I used a buckle kit I got from Lacis Retail Store (you can also get them at the Lacis online store, search “buckle kit”) to make a matching fabric-covered buckle. It comes with a piece of double-sided adhesive that you stick to your fabric, cut around and peel. (For more details see How to Make a Fabric-Covered Belt Buckle.)

Buckle cover -

Then you stick it to buckle, trimming around curves where needed…

Fabric-covered buckle clipped -

…and you’re done! I didn’t bother with belt tong or making holes for my belt because it didn’t need it. The belt seemed to stay in place. Maybe if I were using a slippery fabric instead of quilt-weight, I would have made some holes and added rivets. I like the ban-roll. It was a good weight for this belt.

Fabric covered belt - completed -

Well, actually, I thought I was done but I realized later that I forgot to make the belt carrier – a loop of fabric to prevent the end of the belt from flapping around. Oops. Too bad I didn’t notice that before I did the photo shoot for the dress. But I did make one just before I went to work the next day because it was going to be my day into night ensemble. I was going to a jazz concert that evening.

Here’s the completed ensemble!

Spring for cotton - vintage Simplicity 2439 dress pattern -

If had another day, I might have made a clutch purse. I have some leftover fabric because I was going to make a matching jacket. But it was really boxy and I didn’t like how the muslin looked on me so I skipped the cropped jacket. Maybe I’ll make the purse this summer.

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