A Second Look at Take Ivy, Ivy Illustrated and the OPH

Compared to Western fashion magazines, Japanese magazines often get very specific about how to achieve a certain look. Editors and stylists do not just play with themes, as with most fashion editorial, but painstakingly recreate the exact styling from definitive fashion guides and personages.

In its February 2010 issue, Japanese weekend wear magazine 2nd decided to go back to the bibles of Trad/Ivy/Preppy to build perfectly authentic outfits of American casual (see scans below). Stylist Hajime Suzuki showed readers how to replicate exact outfits from the works “Take Ivy,” “Ivy Illustrated” and “The Official Preppy Handbook” with new brands.

First up is “Take Ivy,” a photo book that was incredibly influential in Japanese Ivy circles for decades before recently being rediscovered in the West. Suzuki kicks things off with a suggestion of white oxford button-downs from Michael Tapia, Individualized Shirts or Gambert. 2nd, unfortunately, had to go to vintage pieces from Tokyo’s best clothing recycle shops to find the letter sweater famously worn by a Princeton undergrad in the book. Barns Outfitters, meanwhile, somehow has the identical faded Brown University sweatshirt from the book for a mere ¥13400 — likely more than what the Brown Co-Op wants for something more modern. Other key items include plaid flannel shirts, classic sneakers, varsity jackets, white pants, rugby shirts, chinos and anorak parkas. The overall feel is sporty, but these were students after all.

Suzuki then presents real-life recreations of the Kazuo Hozumi-illustrated work “Ivy Illustrated,” another bible of Ivy style amongst Japanese baby boomers. The book’s images come to life in comical and somewhat unrealistic ways, including goofy smiles and more than one bandana ascot. The general impact is very Tokyo weekend dad rather than New England during the Kennedy era.

Finally, 2nd recreates some looks from “The Official Preppy Handbook,” which had an official translated release in Japan back in the early ’80s. Suzuki outfits a dummy in perfect ski vest over thick sweater with a hint of 2010 magic (it’s all about the plaid bits on the green vest from Cresent Down Works). 2nd doesn’t go for the classic LL Bean Norwegian Sweater oddly, perhaps because LL Bean Japan failed to sell the sweater this year despite its revival in America. The second look in the series does, however, manage to replicate prep-school sloppiness in orderly Japanese fashion by using paint-flecked, art-damaged khakis from Waste(Twice).

The overall feature does a relatively good job of distinguishing the differences between Ivy (in its “authoritative” ’60s incarnation) and preppy (in its “authoritative” early ’80s, Birnbach-curated incarnation.) While most Japanese fashion culture is not particularly comfortable with wild extrapolation, stylist Suzuki does deserve credit for not making the outfits look like period costumes. Traditional clothing presumes a timeless elegance, but the breath of brand options here in Japan for these items gives the wearer a considerable amount of flexibility between playing the classics and playing around with the classics. — W. DAVID MARX

W. David Marx is a writer living in Tokyo whose work has appeared in GQ, Brutus, Nylon, and Best Music Writing 2009, among other publications. He is currently Tokyo City Editor of CNNGo and Chief Editor of web journal Néojaponisme.

21 Comments on "A Second Look at Take Ivy, Ivy Illustrated and the OPH"

  1. Now who is going to translate for us?

  2. Nihon go chotto hanashimasu kedo, yomu koto ga dekimasen.

  3. Do you know if it’s possible to get copies of these in the states?

  4. Probably not. David got the issue from Amazon Japan for $7.

  5. Wow, these guys fetishize clothing even more than the average Ask Andy Trad Forum reader. Who the hell would buy a Brown sweatshirt when they (or their father, boyfriend etc. ) didn’t even go there?

  6. This is an awesome post! I think sometimes the most precise and thought provoking observation of a culture must come from the outside. These magazines take a different approach to Ivy culture, the most genuine or at least realistic in my mind as a student currently in university. I like how they break the looks down as well, even reads like GQ don’t do that, and the simplicity of a chart is far overlooked.

  7. Cool piece. IIRC, Inventory Magazine also did something similar last year where they attempted to recreate the Take Ivy pictures in modern settings and clothes (was also very cool).


    2nd can be obtained in the U.S. at Kinokuniya bookstores. Alternatively, they can also be ordered from superdenim: http://www.superdenim.co.uk/magazinesandbooks-denim.asp

  8. F-ing fantastic.

  9. Quote: Who the hell would buy a Brown sweatshirt when they (or their father, boyfriend etc. ) didn’t even go there?

    Because over there it doesn’t mean anything. Think of all the Japanese who buy tees and sweatshirts with English writing, having no idea what it means.

  10. There was a great double page spread of new Kazuo Hozumi illustrations in the Japanese ‘mook’ Oily Boy last year, featuring what said baby boomers would like like in their 50s / 60s..

  11. R.A.,

    Much appreciated.

  12. I don’t think I get the “early 80s, Birnbaum-curated incarnation” reference.. Could someone please specify his connection to the subject?

  13. The way that the Japanese obsess over these kinds of things is somewhere between awesome and creepy.

  14. They look as ludicrous as Caucasian women look in kimonos.

  15. “early 80s, Birnbaum-curated incarnation”

    Birnbach-curated as in Lisa Birnbach of the Official Preppy Handbook.

  16. A-4,
    Lisa Birnbach was the editor and contributing writer to “The Official Preppy Handbook” It was a 1980 satire. The book shows a cradle to grave lifestyle of individuals who would have been according to the author described as “Ivy League”(pg.86) As the article above illustrates there were several illustrations of what to wear at different ages.

  17. David mistakenly put Birnbaum instead of Birnbach in the story. I’ve since corrected it.

  18. Born Again Trad | February 27, 2010 at 5:26 am |

    For many of us, “The Official Preppy Handbook” was hardly a satire, it was a virtual Bible that revealed a world to us where people wore something other than jeans and sweatshirts. (Today those jeans and sweatshirts look positively Trad compared to the ubiquitous pajamas).

  19. Birnbaum/Birnbach – I have to say, its quite a funny mistake here (if one uses the word “curated”)…

  20. @ Old Ivy,

    I don’t think they look ridiculous because they’re Asian.

    I’m pretty sure they look ludicrous mostly due to their expressions.

  21. what an interesting story. i love the pained detail this japanese mag went to. these pictures are awesome – the inspirations and the interpretations. and the chap on the skateboard with the boo boo had me laughing for a couple of days. genius.

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