Written by Janet Hu

[Feature image by Rex Features]

As promised, here’s the second part of our entertaining and educational series on the great influencers (pre-Instagram) who have inspired our designs. We’re covering a more modern bunch in this article.

And by “modern,” we mean the 1900s to today–no 12-year old Musical.ly stars (unfortunately?) Yes, it takes work to be an influencer of any kind, even on social media. But it takes time to prove your legacy as a Great Influencer.

The Modern Great Influencers Who Sparked Our Designs

Henry Ford

Time period: Late 1800s – early 1900s
Who was he: American captain of industry, Business Magnate
Famous works: The Ford Motor Company, the Model T, the assembly line, the 5-day work week

Significance: Ford was an overall cool guy. He stood for work efficiency, lower costs, higher wages, and a shorter work week. That’s the model that companies still strive toward today: work smart, have happy employees. Ford was also one of the first to hire African Americans, women, and handicapped men. And he wanted everyone to be able to afford and drive a car–that’s great! He did, however, have some antisemitic views. Apparently, Hitler even kept a life-size portrait of Ford next to his desk… Not cool, at all. The automobile magnate eventually apologized in 1927, after his profits had been declining. The company has come a long way in the last 90 years, the Ford Motor Co still provides over 100,000 North American jobs.
The ties he inspired: Ford Model T Tie, Nuclear physics tie

Albert Einstein

Time period: Early-mid 1900s
Who was he: German-born theoretical physicist
Famous works: Theory of relativity, Photoelectric effect, E=mc2

Significance: “A freaking Einstein,” someone might say when referring to a really smart person. You don’t hear anyone saying “Oh, he’s a real Wilson.” When your name is synonymous to “genius,” it can be assumed that you’ve made a large contribution to the scientific world. And he has. Thanks to Einstein’s theory of relativity, we’re able to have GPS. Thanks to his discovery of the photoelectric effect, we’re able to have lasers, and with that, automatic doors, motion sensors, and smoke alarms.
The ties he inspired: Albert Einstein Tie, Nuclear Physics Tie

William Boeing

Time period: Early-mid 1900s
Who was he: American aviation pioneer
Famous works: The Boeing Company

Significance: Will you be flying in the next few months? You may be riding on a Boeing 737 or a 787, 757, 767… Boeings are the world’s most popular commercial airplanes. Usually, we just think of how bad the plane food is, and how shoddy the service has become. We often take for granted the fact that we can travel thousands of miles through the Earth’s atmosphere and arrive safely at any destination in the world. Boeings started as warplanes during WW1, then the company focused on airmail delivery, and now they’re the kings of commercial passenger flying. Thanks, Uncle Boeing!–can we call him that?

The ties he inspired: Boeing 747 Tie

Jackson Pallock

Time period: Early-mid 1900s
Who was he: American painter, Leader in abstract expressionism
Famous works: Blue Poles, The She Wolf, No 5

Significance: The first person to splatter paint on a blank canvas and call it Art. Pollock drove experimentation in 30s NYC art scene by introducing drip painting: he used the momentum of his entire body to splash liquid paint on a big canvas. His works can be seen today at MoMA, the Guggenheim, and LA’s MOCA among other museums.
The ties he inspired: Pollock Skinny Tie

Clarion Ledger

Time period: Mid-late 1900s
Who is he: First person to be diagnosed with Autism
Famous works: Was himself

Significance: Nah, not that Donald T. Donald Triplett, “Case 1, Donald T.,” was the first kid to be diagnosed with autism in 1943. Psychiatrist and physician Leo Kanner at Johns Hopkins documented his case along with a handful of other children’s. This blurb could’ve been dedicated to Kanner, but we’re going to credit our man Donald Triplett instead. Despite being the oddball of an affluent, conservative family, Triplett lives a happy and contributive life. He learned to manage tasks on a farm when his parents sent him away for a few years, he then got a BA in French, and he later worked at the bank owned by his family. He even traveled abroad extensively. Today, he’s 85!

The ties he inspired: Autism Awareness Puzzle Tie

Paul Eisler

Time period: Mid-late 1900s
Who was he: Austrian inventor
Famous works: the Printed circuit board

Significance: Literally everything you touch that doesn’t come from a seed operates on a circuit board. Okay maybe we’re a tad loose with the use of “literally,” but the device you’re using to read right now? Has a circuit board. Your digital clock? Circuit board. Your office printer? Circuit board. We, as a human race, operate around circuit boards. And we have Eisler and his 1942 invention to thank for that. Eisler was a brilliant inventor and engineer, but he wasn’t so great at banking off his own innovations. He signed a few bad contracts, though he was a great, great man. Not only did he bring us modern electronics, but he also invented the food fish fingers! Seriously.
The ties he inspired: Motherboard III Tie, The Circuit Board Tie

William Shockley

Time period: Mid-late 1900s
Who was he: American physicist and inventor, Research manager at Bell Labs
Famous works: Transistor radio

Significance: William Shockley made “Silicon Valley” what it is today by attempting to commercialize his transistor design in the 50s and 60s. His efforts made Northern California a hotbed for new electronics and lucrative tech ventures. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956 and later became an electrical engineering professor at Stanford. He also became an advocate of eugenics (yikes).
The ties he inspired: Transistor Radio Schematics Tie

Neil Armstrong

Time period: Mid-late 1900s
Who was he: American astronaut, Aeronautical engineer, Naval aviator
Famous works: First man on the moon

Significance: He took the one small step that became a giant leap for mankind. Though Armstrong served in the Navy, he was a civilian test pilot and initially unable to apply to be an astronaut. Then the U.S. opened applications to civilians, and after intense training, Armstrong was selected to set foot on the moon along with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on July 16, 1969. After his moon mission, Armstrong retired to teaching aeronautical engineering at the University of Cincinnati and lived an intentionally low-profile life for the rest of his years.
The ties he inspired: Moon Landing Tie, Walk The Moon Tie, Moon’s Surface Tie

Peter Higgs

Time period: 1900s-2010s
Who is he: British theoretical physicist
Famous works: Higgs field, Higgs boson

Significance: Ok, so on July 4, 2012, the scientific community lost their sh*t because they discovered proof of this thing called the “God particle,” which had only been a theory up until this point. The Higgs boson particle was proof that the Higgs field actually exists. The Higgs field, a concept theorized by Peter Higgs in 1964, is an invisible, universal force that gives particles their mass. So, the discovery of the Higgs boson proves that an unseeable energy field exists around all particles and gives us material existence. Get why it’s called the “God particle” now?
The ties he inspired: Higgs Boson Tie

Luc Montagnier

Time period: Late 1900s
Who is he: French virologist
Famous works: Discovered HIV

Significance: HIV was once a super scary mystery epidemic affecting many urban artists, musicians, and sexually active people in their 20s and 30s, especially LGBT, in the 80s. So many young artists witnessed their friends dying from the virus, and no one understood exactly what it was, where it was coming from, and how to treat it. In the 80s Montagnier and Robert Gallo discovered that the fatalities were caused by a blood-borne virus attacking the immune system. Today, we know way more about HIV, including how to contain it and new medications like PreEP that help prevent it. Though there is no current cure for HIV or AIDS, those who have the disease are living longer and healthier lives today.
The ties he inspired: HIV Tie, HIV/AIDS Awareness Sock

Ernő Rubik

Time period: Late 1900s
Who is he: Hungarian inventor, architect, professor of architecture.
Famous works: Rubik’s cube

Significance: In 2019, people all over the world will gather in Melbourne for the 10th Speedcubing World Championship. Rubik’s cube, the world’s top-selling puzzle game, sparked a pandemic in the late 70s when it was invented, and again in the early 2000s when the Internet re-popularized it. Originally Professor Rubik had designed the cube for his students. They were studying the structural problem of how to move parts independently without collapsing an entire structure. And voila, the best-selling toy of all time was born. So, what solving method do you use, brah? CFOP, Roux, ZZ, Petrus, or Corner’s-first?
The ties he inspired: The Puzzle Cubes Bow Tie

Neil Degrasse Tyson

Time period: Late 1900s to late 2010s
Who is he: American astrophysicist, Director of the Hayden Planetarium
Famous works: “Universe” column for Natural History magazine, Nova host, Cosmos host

Significance: Other than being wildly unpopular for a bit when he helped revoke Pluto’s title as a planet, Neil Degrasse Tyson is one of the most-loved researchers of modern day. He oversees NYC’s Hayden Planetarium, which presents space shows and exhibits for people from all over the world. He’s an incredible speaker and educator, and he is the current host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a documentary TV series on National Geographic and Fox Network. The show’s original host in the 80s, astronomer Carl Sagan, was a mentor of Tyson’s. He wanted to recruit Tyson to Cornell, but Tyson ultimately chose to attend Harvard.

The ties he inspired: The Cosmos Tie

Satoshi Nakamoto

Time period: 2008 to today
Who is he: an unknown person or people
Famous works: Developed bitcoin

Significance: At the end of December 2017, office workers in America and beyond lost their sh*ts, nearly quit their jobs and bought a one-way ticket to the Maldives. Why? Because the digital currency bitcoin skyrocketed to more than 1300% of its previous year’s value. This was the first time cryptocurrency reached the mainstream investment world, and even Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs tried to get in on the coin. The glory was short-lived though. After government crackdowns on trading, the value of these coins steadily and not-so-steadily plummeted throughout 2018. Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym for the inventor of bitcoin, and he first published the white paper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” in 2008.

Say what you will about cryptocurrency, but the blockchain is still an impressive technology that will most likely go on to be implemented in systems for years to come.

The socks he inspired: Digital Coin Set

Case in point: The term “bitcoin” was so risque that our site kept getting flagged. Thus, we only have our Sock Genius bitcoin socks on Amazon.

And that’s our list of modern great influencers. What do you think–how do they compare to Jake Paul?

If you haven’t read it already, you might want to peruse Great Influencers Who Inspired Our Ties (Part I)


Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.