Prosecutor makes literary fashion statement

Thursday, April 29, 2004

In addition to being a prosecutor and published author, Morley Swingle can now add the distinction men's neckwear designer to his list of accomplishments.

Swingle has designed a necktie that is selling for a limited time in three different stores in Cape Girardeau.

The 49-year-old Swingle didn't design a tie to probe a possible career change to fashion design or to keep up with Cape Girardeau native Rush Limbaugh, who has his own line of neckties.

"It was purely because I wanted one," he said.

Specifically what he wanted was a tie with steamboats on it, because his novel, "The Gold of Cape Girardeau," deals with steamboats on the Mississippi River. When he couldn't find a steamboat tie, Swingle went to his computer to see if he could find someone who would custom-make a tie.

"I went to Yahoo, typed in 'custom neckties' and a couple of companies popped up," he said.

He contacted Corporate Textiles in Highland Park, Ill., which has been making custom neckties for businesses and organizations since 1982, and asked if they could make a tie with a steamboat on it to match the cover of his book.

"They said 'we can do anything, and we will do any size order,'" Swingle said.

He wanted just one tie, but the cost of such a small order would have been around $1,000.

"If I made just one for myself, I could never eat spaghetti again," he said.

So he ordered 100 and decided to keep 10 for himself, in case he dribbles marinara sauce, and sell the rest at $49.99 each. If demand exceeds supplies, Swingle can have more ties made up and delivered within a few days.

"If all goes well, I'll end up with 10 free ties and a little bit left over," he said.

Swingle said he sent out a limited mailing to advertise the ties and got a funny note back from Judge William Syler questioning the nearly $50 cost.

"He said 'I have suits that don't cost that much,'" Swingle said, adding that Syler is known to be a sharp dresser.

Swingle said he sent Corporate Textiles a copy of his book's cover and asked for a steamboat pattern reflecting the cover image. At first, Corporate Textiles made up a sample tie with a tan background color to depict the "muddy Mississippi river," but Swingle said he decided that he wouldn't wear a tan tie very often, so he asked the company to make a red one instead. The original red smokestacks on the steamboat on the tan tie were changed to gold on the red one, and the result he said was "beautiful."

In the 15 days after he got his shipment, Swingle said he has worn the tie 12 of those 15 days. Before he saw the actual tie, he wondered if it would be of good quality, but he's "100 percent happy with it," he said. "It's not always often something turns out to be better than you had hoped."

lredeffer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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