We segue from Charleston’s Ben Silver to another trad outpost far from the Northeast, this time San Francisco’s Cable Car Clothiers.
Founded in 1939, the store has managed to survive the city’s transition from traditional stronghold (in such neighborhoods as Nob Hill and Pacific Heights), to beatnik and hippie haven, and finally dot-com hotbed.
It’s fitting that the independent retailer should survive, despite multiple changes in location: San Francisco has the world’s last surviving manually operated cable car system.
Cable Car Clothiers recently gave its website a much-needed overhaul. Prices, alas, remain just as steep as the hilltop streets. Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco; you might just leave your wallet. — CC
Happy 2014 from Ivy Style, and let’s get back to business and ring in the new year with a laugh.
You may have heard that Esquire has launched a TV network, and from what a colleague tells me who’s already been in a pitch session, they’re not exactly looking for highbrow content.
In this clip, an exceptionally unlikeable style host pays a visit to Ben Silver. A self-confessed devotee of the “bare-ankle lifestyle,” the host is clad in a contrast-collared shirt open at the neck, jeans, no socks, and a sportcoat he refers to as a blazer and thinks would look swell with some nifty metal buttons. He’s shopping for some double monks, which, of course, he plans to wear sockless like it’s 2011.
The facial expressions from Ben Silver managing director Bob Prenner are quite priceless, and towards the end he refers to the host as “Cinderella,” which might sound like a mild slur save for the reveal still to come, namely that the host has a wife.
Good luck to Esquire TV. At least they have a flair for the comedic twist. — CC
Of the infinite cultural things that could stand as shorthand for the victory of the lowest-common-denominator across middle-class American culture, one of my favorites is the attire worn for the “Jeopardy!” college tournament.
Whether from the most elite and expensive college or a big state school (yes, I’m a living example that sometimes smart guys, through some character flaw, end up at mediocre schools), they all wear the same thing: an oversized, ill-fitting hooded sweatshirt, as if it may start snowing in the television studio at any moment.
As a follow-up to our recent post about The Hardy North, we’d like to introduce Vintage Campus, which is also trying to give students and alumni better school-clothing options than the lowest common denominator. The brand’s first sweater was for the University of Chicago.
“We decided to start Vintage Campus because we noticed that the vast majority of American college bookstores sell terrible collegiate clothing,” says cofounder Chris Stavitsky. “By this I mean that bookstore clothing is garish, of poor quality, and lacking school specificity.”
While similar brands are targeting just the Ivies, Vintage Campus in thinking more broadly. Writes Stavitsky in an email:
Ivy League schools have had a leg up. Yale has collaborated with J. Press, and Harvard has done something similar. And a couple of new companies, like us, have noticed the gap in the market. They have come out of Cornell (The Hardy North) and Dartmouth (Hillflint). But these are still brands coming out of the Ivy League and selling exclusively to Ivy League schools. There’s nothing for the rest of us.
As we grow, Vintage Campus would like to become a style touchpoint for schools of all types, not just elite institutions. Hundreds of colleges in the US have incredible histories that span centuries, and we want to help alumni and students recognize their own place in these unique stories through our sweaters.
If you’d like to get your school or alma mater involved, Stavitsky says please feel free to send him an email. — CC
Last night was annual Brooks Brothers holiday party, where Wynton Marsalis filled 346 Madison with jazz, creating the soft shoulders and hard bop combination that was, as I often point out, the inspiration for this website.
I took photos of a number of partygoers, but they all pale in comparison to this shot of a Brooks corporate man, who asked one of the balloon-makers there to entertain the kiddies to make him a boutonniere, known henceforth as a boutonnair.
The clever invention had him puffing out his chest, and, now that we’ve posted it online, he’s sure to get an inflated ego. — CC
Isn’t there some miracle diet that promises to burn fat while you sleep, so you can ostensibly wake up weighing less than when you went to sleep, without having to do anything except dream about donuts?
Now there’s another way to wake up slim.
This morning J. Crew sent an email touting slim-fit lounge pants and pajama sets. I had no idea that more body-conscious apparel is desirable when going to bed, when clearly what is desirable when going to bed doesn’t require any apparel.
As for the pajama sets, J. Crew must be trying to broaden its demographic. Males under 30 don’t wear pajamas any more than they wear watches. — CC
Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio Del Vecchio talks to Bloomberg TV’s “Street Smart” show about the brand’s current business strategy, including the upcoming steakhouse, which he says was inspired by his grandmother’s kitchen.
The hosts’ questions are on point, and include asking Del Vecchio if the more fashionable clothing risks alienating “the traditional East Coast customer.” He replies that the company needs to both have the new as well as “what we’re known for.
“When we made mistakes in the past,” he also says, “it was forgetting the traditional customer we had to try to get a new one.” — CC