Once banned, now back: Iran sees timid return of neckties

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Mohammad Javad enters a fashionable store in northern Tehran with his mother. For the first time ever he is trying a necktie, long banned in Iran as a symbol of Western decadence.

The 27-year-old dentist said he chose this clothing accessory in the hope that he would look his best during the first meeting with his future affiliate.

“In our society, wearing a tie is like wearing a mask before Covid-19 hit,” he said as the salesman adjusted his suit. “People would look at you differently because the negative attitude is still there.

“I think a man with a head looks chic. Unfortunately, the Iranian people have imposed strange and unnecessary restrictions on us. It will take time to change that, but I hope it will.”

There is a strong passion in Iran for dress codes, particularly restrictions on women who have long been required to wear modest clothing and headscarves.

Iran has been gripped by unrest, labeled “riots” by the authorities, following the death on September 16 in Iranian custody of Kurd Mahsa Amini, 22, after she was arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

Iran banned the binding for men after the 1979 US-backed overthrow of the monarch as a symbol of Western culture. Although it has since slowly made a comeback, government officials and most Iranian men continue to shun the cravat.

The upmarket Zagros store on the capital’s Nelson Mandela Boulevard, however, displays ties in different colors and in wool, cotton or silk.

“We sell about 100 a month,” said deputy store manager Mohammad Arjmand, 35. “We import them mostly from Turkey, but some are also made in Iran.

“Customers buy them for ceremonies or for work. In this neighborhood, you’ll find that two out of every 10 people wear one. These days more people are wearing ties compared to previous years.”

“Our sales have not been affected by the recent unrest”, said branch manager Ali Fattahi, 38. “Our customers who were wearing ties before still wear them and come to us regularly to buy new ones.”

– ‘Sign of decadence’ –

Iran’s Shiite clerics who came to power in 1979 banned the tie because, in their eyes, it was un-Islamic, a sign of decadence, the symbol of the cross and the quintessence of Western dress imposed by the Shah, a trader said. only asked. not to recognize.

After disappearing for years, links reappeared in some shop windows during the era of reformist president Mohammad Khatami from 1997 to 2005.

Today, government ministers, senior civil servants and heads of state-owned companies do not wear ties with their suits and choose shirts with button-down, open or Mao collars.

Lawyer Masoud Molapanah said “wearing a tie is definitely not a crime” under the constitution or Islamic sharia law. “But there are dress restrictions in some places like on TV.”

While choosing his tie, Javad was accompanied by his chador-clad mother, who not only encouraged him to wear one but asked the vendors to teach her how to properly tie it for her son.

“At one time, some of them tried to remove it,” said the 50-year-old state employee, with a smile. “The reason given was to reject any sign of Westernisation.

“But then it would also be necessary to remove the suit and return to the traditional dress worn by the Qajar dynasty” of 1794-1925, she said, adding that this was “obviously impossible”.

– ‘Connections bring prestige’ –

The manager of a nearby Pierre Cardin store, Mehran Sharifi, 35, said many young people are now enthusiastic about the necktie.

“Ties give people prestige – a lot of people buy them,” said the son and grandson of a tailor, pointing to a century-old photo on his grandfather’s wall of him wearing a tie.

“Customers come to buy suits and we match ties to their choice of clothes. Others buy them as gifts.”

In some high-class cafes, the black tie or black bow is part of the uniform of the waiters, and doctors in different areas of Tehran also sport ties.

The fashion accessory is almost mandatory for Iranians working at embassies and some foreign companies, although most of them will take it off when they go out on the street.

Sadeq, 39, who is employed by the Japanese embassy, ​​said he wears a tie when he comes to work “because it is not very common in Iran to wear a tie in public”.

“If you dress up like that and walk down the street, you’re bound to turn a few heads. People will think you’re a foreigner or someone leading a very formal meeting with foreigners.”

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