Buying authentic Ivy can be a minefield. You have to be on point for all the staples: Burlington socks, Brooks Brothers shirts, Levi’s Vintage 501s, and of course Bass Weejuns, Of course the Internet has made things much easier, especially for those who don’t live in the USA. In the UK, the go-to shop for all things Ivy has always been J. Simons, a bastion of Ivy Style for me since I was in my late teens with American classics in more of a ’50s feel. However, no one can stock everything. We did have some great surplus shops in the ’80s on the Kings Road, Chelsea. So a natural shoulder sports jacket, or a pair of genuine Army chinos could be had for next to nothing.
I am now approaching my sixties, and we live in a world where large parent companies buy brand names like collecting stamps. The cost of a Baracuta G9 soars from Ј100, to Ј230. Not only that, everyone seems to be reinterpreting or updating classic designs. I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Frustration with the current crop of classic flat-front chino designs, including those from Gant, Bill’s Khakis and Ralph Lauren, all trying to re-invent the wheel, lead me to a search on the web. About a year ago, I stumbled across a company called Bronson MFG Co. Basically, military-styled casual clothing with a distinctly American flavor. I dipped my toe in with an order for socks, pocket tees and a Hawaiian shirt, followed swiftly by a pair of selvedge 501-inspired jeans, which pretty much blew any of the current crop of Levis Vintage offering out of the water both in price and quality.
This lead me back to the elusive chinos. Bronson stocks three designs, one of which is called Ivy, yet has pleats. The other two, however, are about as close as a could find anywhere and really look like the real deal, You can go down the Japanese specialist’s route, like Real Mccoys, or Buzz Rickson, and end up paying way too much for what is, after all, a pair of Army trousers.
Recently I received a pair of 1940s pattern, 11.5-ounce cotton flat-front chinos. The style and quality took me right back to those halcyon days in the ’80s. Good rise, great relaxed cut, fantastic quality, no detail left off and absolutely no modern twist. They do a ’50s pattern as well, which has a 14-ounce cotton and a slightly narrower opening on the leg. And get this, only $80. Yes, that’s right. Now don’t get me wrong: I never have regretted paying up for quality clothes, and still don’t count quality and style above cost, but judge for yourselves. — ANDY CARD