The suit may maketh the man, but it is his accessories that will tell you if he is worth getting acquainted with. A true racewear savant bears his markings with due attention paid to his selection of neckwear, pocket square, socks and footwear – the combination being far more significant than the sum of its parts. FATR met sartorial synergy expert Charlie Hender to discuss men’s trackside trends of the season.
Created in 2016, ortc | MAN was the brainchild of longtime friends Will Swale and Charlie Hender. “We were really inspired by our mothers’ involvement in the retail industry, so we decided to combine our love for business and fashion in order to create a brand that reflected our own individual styles,” said Charlie. “Two years on, we have become ortc clothing co. to enable us to grow and broaden our range of products,” he said.
The brand spent its infancy focusing on men’s giftware and accessories and is now growing its range to include clothing. “This summer, we are launching our first range of board shorts and beach towels under the ortc | swim label, which will also be accompanied by ortc t-shirts and hats to complete the summer look,” Charlie said. “As we move into the new year, we will be working hard to create a small line of clothing as we make our way into this area.”
While racegoers wait patiently for the launch of ortc’s clothing, they can make impactful choices with their accessories this FATR season. “Racing style is always a little different to the day-to-day style, but I think you just need to be sharp and prepared to take some risks,” Charlie said.
“Wear a bright tie and a crazy pocket square, or a patterned jacket,” he said. “You must have a fitted outfit with nice shoes and a well-tied tie.”
“I think the biggest mistake a man can make is wearing a black shirt on race day,” Charlie said. “It’s a no-go zone for me; keep it white and bright.”
This season, Charlie predicts floral patterned, simple check and striped pattern bow ties will be incredibly popular. “My favourite bow tie from our Spring Collection is the Alfred Bow,” Charlie said.
“This bow tie is made from a cotton and linen blend, making it the perfect accessory for the spring races,” he said. “I know not every man feels overly comfortable in a bow tie, but it is such a great accessory to make you stand out from a crowd of well-dressed people.”
However, if a bow tie is strong no, Charlie recommends one of their bright and colourful Brinsley Check Ties. “It was not long ago that skinny ties were very popular, and silk ties were just about all you would wear,” Charlie said.
“We spent months trying to figure out the perfect tie size, one that could be worn by us and our fathers and we think we have nailed it,” he said. “We have also seen the arrival of ties made from many different materials and blends, such as our cotton and linen range which are the perfect combination of dressy and relaxed.”
And then comes the pocket square, which is a common area of tension, according got Charlie. “Plenty of us have heard the rules when matching a pocket square, which just complicates it even more,” Charlie said. “At the end of the day, it just needs to look good and tie in together,” he said.
“Choose a blazer, tie or pocket square that you want to be the focal point of your outfit, and then work backwards; never be afraid of keeping it simple, I often wear a white pocket square with navy piping.”
As a country boy, Charlie has been to quite a few racing events in South Australia’s regions. A foolproof combination he finds is a navy suit, white shirt and colourful tie. And you can leave your boots on. “It never gets old,” Charlie said.
Country racing is synonymous with a good pair of boots and the versatile accessory has been perfected by Rossi Boots right here in SA. The iconic Australian brand is famed for their elastic side boots.
Best suited to racewear are Rossi’s traditional leather dress boots, modern suede desert boots and work boots, which can be dressed up for a country racing occasion. Ideal for tackling the unpredictable country terrain, Rossi Boots are a keepsake every man needs to take them from daily life to racing revelry.
When selecting a pair of socks, Charlie prefers the simple classic styles such as stripes and dots, which can be easily matched to a tie and pocket square. “It is also more than acceptable to forget about what is going on upstairs and pick a crazy and colourful pair of socks like our Pink Pineapple socks,” Charlie said.
“When I was growing up, I was always told to wear dark socks when dressing up,” he said. “Well haven’t times changed; colourful socks are the perfect way to spruce up an outfit and often suggest the man has style.”
Racegoers have their next opportunity to stun judges with their accessory adeptness at the Murray Bridge Christmas Cup. The Best Dressed Menswear winner at this FATR Qualifying Event will win a $100 Shoe Shed voucher, a pair of Rossi Boots and a $100 ortc clothing co. prize pack.
The winner then earns the chance to be crowned the State Finalist by an expert panel of judges at the end of the competition season. Discover how to enter our FATR competitions here and learn about the judging criteria to ensure the best chance of taking home a title.