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Shopping & Fashion

Brackish, a New West Village Store, Sells Feather Bowties and Accessories

Based in South Carolina, Brackish uses birds’ plumes to craft its conversation-starting pieces.
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While only around 1,000 square feet, the Brackish store carries the South Carolina brand's entire line of accessories. Courtesy of Brackish

Brackish believes that Dallas shoppers will be eager to dress up their work attire with a pheasant feather bowtie. The South Carolina-based accessories brand uses bird feathers to craft ties, pocket squares, cufflinks, and more. Last month, Brackish opened its first-ever brick-and-mortar store in West Village, across from Jonathan Adler. 

In 2007, co-founder Ben Ross was getting married, and he wanted to give something meaningful to his groomsmen as a thank you. A consummate outdoorsman, “he’s always tying flies and fletching arrows,” groomsman and Brackish co-founder Jeff Plotner says. So, Ross grabbed some spare turkey feathers he had lying around and made bowties for everyone. 

“They were a big hit,” says Plotner. In the following years, anytime he had an event to attend, Plotner found himself reaching for Ross’ tie. “Without fail, every time, every wedding that I went to,” he says, “I’d have like six or seven random strangers coming up to me and talking to me about this thing I had around my neck.” 

In 2012, the friends decided to turn the bowtie into a business—Brackish. They started with that original turkey feather design, then added guinea and pheasant feather ties and pins, and later cummerbunds, to their lineup. In 2019, they began selling women’s jewelry, including cuffs and statement earrings. 

At first, it was just the two friends making everything. (Even though Plotner describes himself as the least artistic member of the Brackish team.) Over the past 11 years, they’ve expanded to a team of 30 artisans in Charleston who make everything by hand. Pricing ranges $65 to nearly $800, but each Brackish piece takes four-to-five hours to make and passes through six-to-seven pairs of hands, Plotner says. 

The feathers are hand-selected for each piece. “It’s very intricate, very detailed,” Plotner says. “There’s no way to replicate that in a factory or with any machine.” They source their feathers, like peacock, guinea, and partridge, from free-range farms across the U.S. And Ross forages for plum thicket thorns in the woods to make the boutonniere and hat pins. Guinea feathers are great for a formal “pop,” while pheasant plumage can be easily dressed up or down, Plotner says. “The beauty of the feathers is we can design them in so many different ways and get so many different combinations.”  

Folks took to their designs, Plotner says, and they sold out quickly. Customers appreciated the artistry and intricacy of the pieces. They sold direct-to-consumer and wholesale in stores like Neiman Marcus. They set up booths at shopping bazaars, like the Chi Omega Christmas Market, and other events, like the Dallas Safari Club convention. The Texas markets were popular, Plotner says, and Dallasites seemed to like their ties. So, when the team decided to finally open a standalone store—they also have a small showroom in their Charleston studio—they knew where to go. 

Last month, they opened their store in West Village. They liked the walkability of the outdoor shopping center and the number of men’s stores, like Mizzen & Main and Rye 51, as well as the women’s boutiques, Plotner says. 

The new store is small—about 1,000 square feet—but “if you’re a Brackish fan or you you’re unfamiliar with Brackish and you want to see everything, this is the place to be,” he says. The shop is one of the few locations that carries Brackish’s entire line of products, so you can browse everything the company offers. And because each feather is one of a kind and each product is handmade, you can ask an associate to bring out two or three variations of a piece and pick your favorite. 

The sales associates are also stylists, who can help you plan your outfit around the Brackish accessory, Plotner says. The store even has dressing rooms, if you want to bring in your suit, or your entire groom’s party, to pick out the perfect coordinating Brackish piece. Whatever the event, they’re ready for you. 

“Those customers with a social calendar,” says Plotner, “this is obviously something that gets conversation started.” 

Author

Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

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Catherine Wendlandt is the online associate editor for D Magazine’s Living and Home and Garden blogs, where she covers all…
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