In his public campaign for marriage equality, Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson is using the bow tie as a secret weapon.
The ABC actor and his fiance, Justin Mikita, have partnered with the company The Tie Bar to release a second collection of neckwear. Through their nonprofit, Tie the Knot, All proceeds from the sale of the bow ties will go to various organizations fighting for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans.
“The second collection was a lot of fun because we went into it with less fear,” Ferguson told The Hollywood Reporter at a party for the line, held at NYC hotspot Avenue on Wednesday night. “We were so nervous with the first time because we didn’t know if anyone was gonna respond to it. But the fact that they sold out so quickly, it gave us a little bout of confidence.”
From the limited 23-piece spring offering, Ferguson wore a shiny brown bow tie with his black-and-white patterned button-up while Mikita paired a dark-pink-accented pattern with a sleek purple shirt.
“He’s really good at putting them together in crazy, quirky ways ... but he does it really well because he’s quirky and fun and he has that cool personality,” noted Mikita, who mentioned that Tie the Knot may also offer more menswear accessories like cufflinks, socks and pocket squares in the future. “I’m a little more traditional, I guess, but I’m learning. My style’s evolving because of him.”
Ferguson and Mikita have always participated in activism efforts together -- they both attended President Barack Obama’s LGBT fundraisers in Hollywood last year and recently visited lawmakers in Chicago to help move marriage equality forward in Illinois -- so carrying their strong connection to the issue over into the business world seemed obvious.
“When you find the right person, it’s not work -- well that’s a lie, it’s work!” laughed Mikita. “But it’s work you’re willing to do because it feels right. We work through our differences; we’re totally different people when it comes to how we handle stress. But at the end of the day, we complement each other really well.”
What’s their biggest biz-related problem? Keeping themselves from discussing ideas and designs over dinner.
“I was like, ‘This foundation has hijacked my date with you! Now I’m a secretary again!’” Ferguson joked to Mikita. “But it’s really great, it’s kept it very fresh. We always have something to talk about.”
The couple also called on a close friend to contribute an original design -- Isaac Mizrahi, who unofficially consulted on their Tie the Knot concept long before the first collection last year. The designer felt honored to add a self-titled plaid bow tie and take part in the civil rights effort.
“I never before considered it my issue until I got married, and I honestly don’t know why I got married except for the fact that I love Arnold [Germer]!” Mizrahi told THR, referring to his husband. “One thing I have to say is that [marriage is] not for everybody, but for the people who really want to do it, it should be legal. It should be an option. I do feel like the tide is turning. ... For me, it’s amazing to see Hollywood’s support, but Hollywood’s always first to do the right thing.”
Ferguson expressed that Tie the Knot wouldn’t have gained a profile without Modern Family, as the Emmy-winning sitcom let him don his bow tie designs in three episodes to date.
“As an actor, you just want to work, and then you just want to be on a show or have a job that you love, and you hope that job will last -- those things have happened,” he explained. “To have that platform to then talk about something that is very personal to me like marriage equality, it feels like a gift. I try and really respect that voice and not abuse it. This just feels like the right thing to be doing with that platform right now.”
But not everything is happy-go-lucky on Modern Family. When asked about the next episode that they’re to film, Ferguson teased: “There’s a death in the family. No one that you need to be afraid about; no one terribly close to anyone you’ve gotten to know too well. But it’s a really beautifully written episode about coming around people you love and helping them through hard times.”