Telos NY is a neckwear brand that specializes in luxury hand painted silk ties and bow ties. It was started in 2014 between German and myself based on our mutual love for silk painting. I learned silk painting in 2013 under the guidance of Rosemary Cohen from Atelier de Paris. Her atelier is not exactly in Paris, France...it's actually based off Robertson Blvd. in Los Angeles.
A hand painted silk bow tie with champagne and charcoal tones.
German started out in fashion by silk painting ties at his loft on Melrose for his company JonValdi. His hand painted ties sold at Barneys New York, Fred Segal and other national stores like Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco. He didn't retake the lessons from Rosemary but insisted that I take the course from her and not him. So, while visiting family in Los Angeles, I set up a lesson with her. Rosemary is probably one of the most beautiful souls you will ever have the privilege to encounter, and I am grateful that I was able to meet her through German.
German and I both kept wondering what the telos of a hand painted silk block would be, so we figured, their telos would be to bring joy and playfulness to something that has become so mundane to many.
A few months after my initial lesson, and after spending time silk painting like a hermit, German suggested we start a hand painted tie project using the silk blocks we were creating. These silk blocks are rather large. As we kept painting, it seemed like, in Emerson's words, we were "holding too much good" in our hands. Rather than horde these blocks, which were only being seen by us at that point, it seemed perfect to transform them into something useful, vibrant, playful...
One of the silk blocks painted at the studio. Each block of silk sized roughly 4 ft x 4 ft.
We had some hand painted ties made using some of our silk blocks and during a fitting for a custom dress, a rep for one of the holiday shows in Manhattan recommend we sell them in Grand Central Terminal during their annual holiday fair. We applied, got accepted and soon afterwards had a men's neckwear business on our hands.
Telos New York hand painted silk neckties are for the playful and whimsical amongst us. Our items are currently available for sale through German Valdivia's online store.
Why did we chose the name Telos New York?
It was one of those quick choices we made after having a conversation on what we wanted to do with life. After minimizing my exposure to the legal profession, like the philosophical nerd I am, I kept thinking about Aristotle's concept of telos, i.e., to have an end or purpose. German and I both kept wondering what the telos of a hand painted silk block would be, so we figured, their telos would be to bring joy and playfulness to something that has become so mundane to many. This was probably the most obvious impact of the silk painting during our experience at the Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair...people just came up to us telling us how happy it made them to see so much color.
A full hand painted silk block with champagne, grey, cyan and orange tones.
The transformation we've undergone as silk painters has taken us beyond neckwear. I would have never thought that the silk blocks would actually be perceived as "art" to some, and that blocks would actually sell on their own without us having to cut them into functional pieces of clothing or accessories (like a hand painted tie). Frankly, I never thought that a life after the law would take me into something truly creative where the opportunities have felt limitless.
Our most popular neckties sold off motifs in this hand painted silk block pattern. We sold out of all these ties within a week of offering them.
Telos NY now sells more than just hand painted ties and bow ties. We sell ties and bow ties for weddings, and more modern pieces for the discerning neckwear collector or dandy. You can see some of our necktie pieces here and our bow tie pieces here. Our hand painted silk pocket squares and hand rolled pocket squares have become one of our most popular accessories, because of the high demand for those, we have to hold off selling them online since there is a lot of hand work involved. We've also had some of our hand painted silk items sold on sites such as 1stDibs and have done work for private residences in the city.
A hand painted silk bow tie featuring black silk and a hand painted terra cotta center motif.
Some key facts about Telos New York:
- If something's not painted, we typically recycle our fabrics from other design houses whenever we can.
- We've committed ourselves to ensuring any one who cuts, sews or works on the production of our neckwear receives a living wage.
- We don't use overseas labor. We believe we have fine artisans and manufacturers right here under our noses in beautiful New York state.
- If you do decide to purchase one of our hand painted pieces you can confidently wear it knowing that nobody else on this planet will have the exact same item.
German and I enjoy sharing the process of silk painting and always host some informal silk painting lessons with friends and family at the loft on 56th St in Manhattan. If you're interested in learning more about silk painting, please feel free to reach out and drop us a note. If we can't host an actual silk painting lesson with you while you're visiting the city, we'll definitely put you in touch with our teacher Rosemary so she can point you in the right direction.
Creative living isn't about some perceived path you need to take, or getting credit/fame for something you created, but (as stated by one of our mentors) letting go of the life you planned and embracing the one you've been given.