October 29, 2013 by Ville Raivio
The grenadine weave is a complex mesh of yarns combined with a leno technique, where two warp yarns twist around the weft yarns. Wooden jacquard looms are used instead of modern industrial-grade ones for their finesse. The regular warp yarns are combined with a skeleton yarn into a twist. In order to make a leno weave, two or more warp threads cross over each other and interlace with one or several weft threads. The weft is woven in and for each weft shuttle the warp yarns are twisted to make a locked figure of eight. This is all very fine and technical, but the end result is more interesting. Grenadine is an open yet strong, sheer fabric with a low yarn count, great stability and low yarn slippage. On men’s apparel it’s mainly used for neckties.
Most leno weaves, as open as they are, leave plenty of room for sunlight, air and casual glances to pass through the fabric’s surface when compared to the tight plain or twill cloths. Ties made from the most open grenadine weaves usually come with lining so that the blade won’t show through the surface. The fabric harks back to the 18th century when it was used for ladies’ black silk lace scarves and dress fabrics, later on in curtains too.
As the finest grenadine weavers are Italian, these being Fermo Fossati and Seteria Bianchi, the different weaving patterns of grenadine are widely known by their Italian names. Garza (as in gauze) fina has a small pattern, garza grossa is a large weave, prometeo resembles honeycombs, garza piccola is miniscule. Grenadine weaving patterns are among the most complex and the process slower, hence the usually higher prices for grenadine ties.
The best-known grenadine man is none other than James Bond. His literary avatar wore black knit ties with nearly everything, while the film versions favoured a navy blue grenadine tie on some of the first films, and a black one for funeral occasions. Mr Bond was in the right. The grenadine tie is a thing of wonder. Instead of screaming neon colours or migraine-raising motifs, the trusty grenadine relies on texture — and what a texture it is. From afar a smooth, ordinary complement for the neck, yet an eccentric, lively silk mesh upon the closer look. It’s certainly among the most eccentric woven tie fabrics; smarter in finer weaves, casual in larger weaves, and holds a knot like no other. Every day is better with some grenadine.