When the French first embraced the knotted neckerchiefs worn by 17th-century Croatian mercenaries, few would have guessed its descendant — the tie — would one day be worn as standard business attire the world over.
Everywhere, that is, except the clerical establishment of Iran, which banned the sale of the garment after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, deeming it a symbol of Western decadence, and has this week moved again to reassert its sartorial will.
Ties had returned to boutiques and shops in the major cities under reformist former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, who relaxed many old restrictions. However, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency, the religious police are now to enforce the often-ignored ban.
“Shops were banned from selling ties after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, but in recent years some vendors have once again started to sell them despite warnings by the responsible authorities in the police,” ISNA said. “The ban has never been pursued seriously and that’s why ties sales have increased significantly in the clothes shops.”
Despite the ban on selling ties, wearing them is not an offense. While it is not considered acceptable for government employees to wear the garment, an increasing number of people dress with ties when working for private firms or going to formal parties. Some universities allow students to wear them and bridegrooms, including men who have never worn one in the past, will often wear a tie for their wedding.
A seller told ISNA that all shops have been notified by the police to take their ties off display and that those who break the ban risk having their shops closed down. Javad Doroodian, the head of Iran’s clothes sellers and weavers union, told ISNA it had been asked to change its logo because it contained an image of a tie.
The tie may even have Iranian origins. Although there are many theories, the Netherlands-based Radiozamaneh cited British historian Noel Malcolm, who said the knotted neckerchief was first imported to Europe, and the Croatian mercenaries, from Iran during the Sassanid Empire.