william beck & ryan sovereign
During the summer of 2005, when Ryan Sovereign (right) and William Beck found themselves with refrigerator doors plastered with wedding invitations and nothing to wear, the RISD grads decided to propose a solution and start making some ties. The pair graduated just a year apart, and though they both ventured to the breezy West Coast after their respective senior years, they didn’t officially meet until they settled into nearby Brooklyn neighborhoods a few years later.
“It just kind of clicked for us,” says Will, half of the unabashedly cool brand. “At the time, everyone was doing printed totes and T-shirts, but we found we both had an interest in surface design—and we both collect vintage ties,” says Ryan, who credits his junior-high comic-book drawing class (awesome!) for his interest in illustration. “We thought, ‘Maybe this will be more lucrative.’”
Already, the Sovereign Beck duo has survived the great recession with their handmade designs, which have a slightly seventies inflection—a nod to the ties Will used to raid from his father’s collection—and are inspired by everything from sedimentary rock formations to the veins in an autumn leaf. “I think we’re both secretly science nerds,” Ryan says. Will can only laugh and admit, “We’re not good at math, but we enjoy the idea of it.” —lauren caruso