On Tuesday Jon Caramanica of the New York Times wrote a piece on J. Press’ York Street store. Here’s our play-by-play.
Caramanica starts by suggesting that the Ivy/prep revival of the past several years “became not just a look, but a form of commentary.”
On what he doesn’t say. Next, orthodox trads who can’t stand the playskool colors of prepdom will be puzzled by the suggestion that recent preppy clothes haven’t been vibrant enough:
Yet too often the clothes that came from this movement lacked the radical chic of real-life prep fashion — none of the vibrant, lightning-bright color choices; none of the eyebrow-raising patterns; none of the insouciance of a wearer who directly correlates income level with risk-taking. Prep never apologized. Just ask all the less-privileged people underfoot.
As a New York reporter, Caramanica evidently has his dial set to the irony frequency and expects a loud and clear signal wherever he goes, which is certainly understandable:
The wink, such as there is one, begins in the front window, where a human mannequin had a neon-tube tie and a dog mannequin had neon-tube glasses. Watch out, rebellion within — right?
Whimsy! Subversion! Downtown! The 1980s! These references could undo prep, or invigorate it with a sense of the now. But the Ovadia boys, Ariel and Shimon, put more care into their own line than into this one, which shrugs more than it winks.
York Street items, he finds, “scan as underwhelming knockoffs, not brand extensions.” No argument from most of you on that, I suspect.
I found this line funny, though more in a tragi-comic sense:
.. the designers were still figuring out the line’s fit, a salesclerk told me
The story’s final takeaway is this:
Make Ivy This is the long tail of the prep revival, a faint outline of the original thing. The store aspires to recall an old Ivy League clubhouse, but feels like a facsimile you could make at home with a 3D printer.
Fake Ivy The clothes are reasonably priced, by J. Press standards, and they’re more muted than you would expect.
Take Ivy When J. Press leans on staples, it succeeds: any younger customer interested in the brand isn’t craving a watered-down version of it, maybe just a slimmer-fitting one.
And my final remark? Booklynites like York Street’s designers might do irony, but the Japanese don’t. — CC
Last fall we declared the camp moccasin the shoe of the season. No idea if we were right, but making the call was fun.
This season our trendwatch antennae have received enough signals for us to call spring 2013 the season of the boat shoe. Brooks Brothers has unveiled the epic patch-madras shoes above, which will be tough to beat. (Continue)
Recently we reported on the inexpensive trad stuff available at JC Penney via its Stafford Prep line, and now here’s a follow-up.
If you’re short, trad and broke, Penney’s has just the seersucker for you.
Yes, this suit jacket — which I have seen in person and assumed Sponge Bob was the fit model — is priced at a mere $60 and features such trad details as an undarted chest, patch pockets, and, believe it or not, a hook vent.
That’s right: The world is so upside down now that a sixty-dollar department store novelty jacket costs less than a Ralph Lauren pocket square, yet nails more traditional Ivy checkboxes than Brooks Brothers’ finest suit.
There is some shoulder structure, however, and it’s a two-button. But you could always pretend it’s from The Andover Shop.
There’s only one length, “regular,” and it’s Thom Brownish, so you’ll need to be a short to consider this. Not to mention parsimonious. — CC
There are several bits of news here in Tradsville, so let’s take care of them all at once.
First off is a new e-book by Sven from Gentleman’s Gazette. The book is on the style of the 1930s and includes a number of Apparel Arts and Esquire images you may not have seen before, several of which feature a university setting from the time when college men were considered among the best dressed in the country.
Head over here, where you can get a free PDF copy of the book if you sign up for GG’s newsletter. (Continue)
Yesterday I visited the Bass showroom and got a look at the new US-made Weejun due out this fall. Bass made some last year for the Weejun’s 75th anniversary, but these are new shoes that will be part of the standard Bass lineup.
The shoes are made in Maine, and while the sales rep was unable to verify which shoe factory is making them, there are only a couple possibilities. The shoes will be available in a variety of finishes, including the pebble-grain calf pictured (far left), and burgundy and black shell cordovan (right). The cordovan models felt a bit lighter in construction compared to Alden and Allen Edmonds, and also less shiny, which many of you may like.
Bass is making a huge leap from its current entry-level Weejuns into the premium category with these new US-made models, which are priced nearly the same as those of the aforementioned competitors. The calf Weejun is expected to sell for $350 and the cordovan for $650. They should be availble in October.
For the budget conscious, Bass is looking to move production of its entry-level Weejun from El Salvador back to Brazil, where the shoes were made before, which the sales rep suggested would bring an increase in quality.
Finally, on Monday assistant editor Christopher Sharp will present a fascinating article on the origins of the Weejun. — CC
O’Connell’s may be located on Main Street in Buffalo, NY, but it’s certainly not “Main Street” in its wares. The company has been offering the real deal since 1959, and is still family owned.
The website Department of Style recently paid O’Connell’s a visit and produced a short but fun video. Check it out. — CC