Imitating the look of sharkskin has a long history in fashion. While most people are familiar with the sharkskin suit, most are unfamiliar with the ancient kimono fabric patterns of Japan known as samekomon. The Indigo Komon necktie and bow tie by Olaf Olsson take inspiration from both of these beautiful fashion statements. They are both made from a heavy weight cotton printed with a traditional Japanese samekomon pattern. The fabric is a dark indigo blue with light tan dots arranged in patterns that create the sharkskin effect. The necktie is a classic thin width of 2.5”. The bow tie is a batwing style. Both of these styles were typical of neckwear in the 1950’s and 1960’s when the sharkskin suit was also popular. 

The Sharkskin Suit

When most westerners think of sharkskin in terms of fashion they think of the classic suit, which is made from a smooth worsted fabric with a two-toned appearance and soft feel. The popularity of Sharkskin suits began in the early 1960s when performers and movie stars such as the Rat Pack began wearing them. The singer Frank Sinatra could be seen wearing a sharkskin suit with a thin necktie and button down dress shirt. While sharkskin suits and thin neckties have faded in and out of popularity since the 1960’s they still retain their attraction today. Movie characters such as James Bond can be seen wearing sharkskin suits with complimentary neckwear to great effect. The sharkskin suit made plenty of appearances on TV in shows like Madmen as well.

What Makes a Sharkskin Suit Look Like Sharkskin

The two-toned appearance of a sharkskin suit is created by a basket weaving technique. This makes a pattern where the white fibers run diagonal to the colored threads. Because both fabrics have a relatively smooth texture, the combination of the two results in the two toned finish for which sharkskin fabric is famous. High quality "natural sharkskin" fabric is made of natural fibers such as wool, mohair and silk. Other sharkskin fabric is made from rayon or acetate or as a blend of the two.


The traditional pattern is known as samekomon, a design identified with the Shimazu clan of the military aristocracy, and one of the oldest kimono patterns known in Japan. Same means shark in Japanese and the term komon refers to a stenciling technique in which designs composed of minute holes are cut into the stencil paper. Some of these patterns approach an impressive 200 dots per square inch.

Samekomon has the appearance of a modest solid when viewed from a distance. When viewed up close it reveals the true nature and detail involved in it’s creation. This effect works very well with both a necktie and bowtie such as the ones from Olaf Olsson neckwear.

Komon fabric was originally dyed in very drab browns and grays, but can also be found in a variety of colors, including the deep indigo blue of the fabric used to make the Indigo Komon necktie and bow tie by Olaf Olsson. This high quality cotton fabric is imported directly from Japan and handmade into neckties and bow ties.

Indigo Komon Necktie and Bow Tie

The Indigo Komon necktie and bow tie from Olaf Olsson are handmade from a heavy weight cotton printed with a traditional Japanese samekomon pattern. The neckwear is a deep indigo blue with light tan dots arranged in patterns that simulate sharkskin. The necktie is self tipped with matching fabric keeper loop and is 2-1/2" wide and 57" long. The bow tie is an adjustable length, hand-tied batwing style bow tie, with flat ends that are 2" at their widest point.

Check out our Pinterest board of Samekomon photos.

December 15, 2016 — Olaf Olsson