Collegiate Apparel, Distinctly Unstuffy

There are signs that neo-prep is witnessing a global revival, as Drake’s fall collection was shot at Oxford and invokes the sacred term “collegiate.” Of course, it also invokes “irreverent.”

…a collection which approaches the tenets of classic menswear in irreverent fashion; doffing its knitted watch cap to collegiate apparel while remaining distinctly unstuffy.

Check out the fantastic lookbook here. America will have to be sharp on its game! — CC

36 Comments on "Collegiate Apparel, Distinctly Unstuffy"

  1. I’ll take the entire collection please. Very well done. Including the mateship over a couple of pints!

  2. I picked the right time to study in London

  3. So Ivy style borrowed from the British and now the British are borrowing from Ivy style. Full circle?

  4. @Caustic Man. Drake’s is now owned by the Armoury of Hong Kong. Since Michael Drake sold his firm, the new Chinese owners joined the iGent Neapolitan fad. It is the Italians who are borrowing from Ivy Style and Drake’s are again borrowing from them again. The Italians love their seersucker suits and button-down shirts which they leave unbuttoned.

    Like Brooks Brothers’ London and Polo Ralph Lifshitz’s stores nearby, Drake’s RTW/OTR prices are OTT. However, Drake’s do make their shirts in Somerset. I can buy cheaper MTM from my shirtmaker and tailor – great fit, more choice, better quality and real personal service. Why do Ivy Style lovers still want to get ripped off by the likes of the Phoney Pony?

  5. I have always liked Drake’s color combinations and their seemingly unerring choices. They can go bold and remain tasteful. When they go subtle, the elegant simplicity stands out. Instead of getting lost in the RLP/BB bashing, I think we’d be better served by drawing inspiration from these guys. They do it right.

  6. @Kenny A dash of mild coded anti-semitism, a pinch of sinophobia and a healthy dollop of penuriousness! I’ll bet you slay ‘em at parties.

    I’m biased and shouldn’t ever be trusted, but Drake’s is top notch.

  7. You can trust the biased, it’s the “unbiased” who are the most untrustworthy.

  8. More than a few retailers who are still in the game (and once peddled Haute Ivy*) share reminders of how really, truly (superbly) well made certain off-the-rack pieces were, and, more to the point, how pricey they were. Just shy of custom-level quality.

    Here at we’ve been exposed to the top drawer (thus expensive) kit by way old Chipp catalogs and Norman Hilton ads…yet also circa ’64 Sears take on “Main Street Ivy.” I am guessing the audience for the former was always minuscule. So it was then, so it is now.

    It’s a safe guess the Heyday OTR offerings at J. Press and Brooks were well made but not up to the standards of the men who went the way of custom (or what we today refer to as MTM). There’s no denying that there’s something special about custom that’s difficult to articulate–especially when you select bespoke cloth and unique details for the tailoring (like, say, the size of the chest patch pocket or length of the hook vent).

    This is the world in which we live. If you’re really into something, it’s likely there’s somebody out there who can make (or find) it for you. These days I find have MUCH more in common with men whose tastes don’t exactly tend toward Classic Ivy but who appreciate custom clothing (cost be damned!).

    How blessed is DCG that he’s now living in that wonderful world? Lucky dog. Speaking of which, how about pictures of the Caid interpretation of the classic OCBD ?

    *Norman Hilton, for instance

  9. There is nothing irreverent or unstuffy about Drake’s. The British are much more formal and serious than Americans. It’s pretty much a crime to wear brown shoes in London, or as they say “no brown in town.”

  10. @DCG. Your charges of anti-semitism and sinophobia are offensive and ridiculous. It’s an old and obvious means of deflection from the facts. Take a look at the decline of other iconic British brands (e.g. Gieves & Hawkes) under their new owners. Jermyn Street brands TM Lewin and Hawkes & Curtis have been taken down market by their new owners but will not bother the iGent idiots who know nothing about traditional British shirtmakers and haberdashers.

    Under The Armoury, Drakes has dropped nearly all the classic 3 fold ties that loyal customers, such as myself, had bought for many years. The new Neapolitan-style ties have replaced them together with huge price hikes. If Londoners want real Neapolitan ties, they can go to Marinella’s shop which is a couple of blocks away. I have switched to Budd but the self-appointed sartorial police will accuse me of being Italophobic.

    I admit to being biased against brands that rip off the ignorant and the gullible. And I’m looking forward to Christian’s review of Bruce Boyer’s “capsule collection” for Marol of Italy – a mere $585 each. Presumably, they must be Ivy Style or neo-Prep too. You will certainly need an Ivy League trust fund to afford them!

  11. @Mitchell S. I’d have to disagree. Drake’s may appear more formal and studied from a distance, but the closer you look at it the less reverent it feels. I think a large part of that has to do with the ticket patch pocket that has become something of a house style.

  12. @Kenny: I agree with you and your rebuttal of DCG’s straw man attack. Your comments had nothing to do with race but about discriminating between hype and authenticity.

    At the risk of sounding like an I-gent, I am a fan of Ralph Lauren and I hope this does not mean I am ignorant and gullible.

  13. frederick johnson | September 20, 2018 at 12:53 pm |

    I don’t care for “unbuttoned” button collar shirts or unflapped jacket pockets however the style seems TNSIL enough and the fabrics are great.

  14. @Kenny.

    I get that you don’t appreciate “Polo Ralph Lifshitz”. Just curious, when it comes to actors, do you prefer Archibald Leach or Maurice Joseph Micklewhite? (I like both of ’em).

  15. @Mitchell S. Many thanks for your support. I bought PRL years ago when the quality was very good, e.g. suits from top factories in Italy. Unfortunately, my PRL shirts (made in Asia) fell apart after only a few months. They weren’t cheap and a total waste of money. Hackett has gone downhill fast under its new owner, a member of the family that owns Zara IIRC.

    During the summer sales, I looked for some PRL beachwear and chinos for my vacation. PRL does not stock most classic fit garments (e.g. t-shirts, chinos) in Britain, not even in its Bond Street flagship store. You can’t even get them from department stores. If you are not custom fit or slim fit, you are totally stuffed. It’s not surprising that PRL has lost its traditional customers and loads of money. It’s become just another mall brand like Tommy Hilfiger and Gant.

  16. @Kenny

    Points well taken.

    …and yet the good stuff is still out there– Robert Keyte Ancient Madder (and wool challis), West of England flannel, and mills that can reproduce the old oxford cheviot shirtings.

    For some Ivy was an extension of a particular version of English style and still is. In this light all the affiliations with neo-prep and main street Ivy seem ridiculous.

  17. @Mithell S
    Have you spent time in London? They dress about as formally there as you’ll see on downtown streets here.

    This Drakes stuff is far more cheeky than anything PRL puts out, and it has no stupid logos or badges. It’s straight ahead Trad, and very well executed.

  18. Kenny: I understand completely, when the quality is good it’s Polo Ralph Lauren, when you think it’s fake, tacky and cheap, it’s back to being Ralph Lifshitz. I’m no mind reader, but is it a little clear why someone might read into your comment and come out with a bit more than you might have intended?

    Rebutting the charge of sinophobia you point to the decline of various British brands after being bought by Chinese…not a great rebuttal…what is your point exactly?

    Your understanding of the Drake’s ownership situation is mistaken. It is not owned by The Armoury. It is co-owned by Mark Cho, who is also co-owner of The Armoury as a separate entity, with the other co-owner being Michael Hill.

    Mitchell: Please see the above for an actual example of a straw man argument.

  19. @Taliesin It’s good to hear from a fellow iconoclast. I like Cary Grant and Michael Caine too. Grant used his real name when visiting relatives in England. Do you like Ramon Estevez, Issur Demsky and Leroy Sherer Jr? Or how about Sir Krishna Bhanji and Dame Ilyena Mironov?

    @Whiskeydent You will not find many well-dressed men on the streets of Primark London. They tend to belong to private members’ clubs and many have moved to the country. Drake’s sizing is inconsistent. The jackets come up small on the body with very long sleeves. They are more suitable for Italians than Brits.

  20. Thank God! Looks amazing!

  21. “…many have moved to the country.”

    smart of them. The city is for work, the arts, and restaurants. If you can, live in the country. Or at least a pretty, quiet, quaint suburban community.

  22. Quote from Kenny:

    “And I’m looking forward to Christian’s review of Bruce Boyer’s “capsule collection” for Marol of Italy – a mere $585 each. Presumably, they must be Ivy Style or neo-Prep too.”

    I certainly recall Bruce and I chatting about that, and it seems like it must be 6-12 months ago. As you can see, I didn’t post about it because it wasn’t a trad shirt collection.

    A $600 Bruce Boyer buttondown, however, would be highly newsworthy.

  23. BTW, I may be on the lookout for a quaint suburban community.

  24. I own several Drakes shirts that are probably 15 years old and still look
    good. I was in their London shop just about two years ago and was favorably
    impressed wth the quality of their shirts for the price. I loved their
    sweaters but the one I wanted was not available in my size, XL. I hope
    they don’t go downhill like so many menswear firms.

  25. On an unrelated note, I’ve visited the Brooks website several times lately. No sign of any OCBD’s. They seem to have disappeared.

  26. That striped shetland sweater looks like something Polo did (or would have done) back in the day.

    CC, come up to Westchester, beats the city crowds plus you might get to see a few WASPs in their natural habitat. Westchester: Land of 10,000 Country Clubs, or the original “country.”

  27. @Kenny (“Do you like Ramon Estevez, Issur Demsky and Leroy Sherer Jr? Or how about Sir Krishna Bhanji and Dame Ilyena Mironov?”)

    All are good, but Issur “Demsky” Danielovitch is an all-time favorite of mine. His autobiography (“The Ragman’s Son”) is an enjoyable book.

  28. Old School Tie | September 21, 2018 at 6:16 am |

    Oh my God! They killed Kenny!……..

  29. Charlottesville | September 21, 2018 at 9:20 am |

    Christian – For a quaint community with some urban amenities, I heartily recommend Charlottesville, although it would be a long commute to Manhattan. But there are daily direct flights to LaGuardia, Chicago DC, and other spots for times when you need a big city fix.

    I live in the country a little more than 20 miles west of town, but my commute is a a half hour or less, so I feel like I have the best of all worlds.

  30. I hope this does not come across as inflammatory, but before this post I was unfamiliar with Drake’s. Now? I’ve pre-ordered that charming purple & gold striped sweater. It ought to look good around my University of Washington-supporting Seattle.

    Thanks, Christian.

  31. I like it, good effort, and great looking clothes that also work in 2018.

    If I want to be a stickler I can say that I’d do without having unbuttoned shirt collars peak out of a turtleneck, but they’re clearly just playing around for advertising purposes.

    Also, I’m sick and tired of people here bitching and moaning about PLR. Number one, they have several brand extensions and even quality/price tiers within those brands to appeal to a wide variety of customers. People who complain about the declining quality vs. that which was produced in the 1980s… are you comparing it to Outlet/factory store Polo, or flagship Polo? They might have the same label, but everyone knows they are far from being the same thing. Next, it is my view that many of their items which don’t contain the pony are fantastic. As someone once pointed out in the ‘Grail Blazer’ post awhile ago, their doeskin is the closest thing to perfection one can get of the rack; complete with soft shoulders, a flattering low front gorge, ideal length, and a rich textured fabric, etc. Finally, PRL is also the most accessible, even more so than B.B. which you’d be hard pressed to find in a TJMAXX location in Iowa, or Wyoming, or Alaska.

  32. Also, I like Drake’s ties because when tied four-in-hand, they tend to produce that same ‘longer yet narrower’ knot look that Hermés and Charvet ties do, but they still happen to go on sale once in a while. (Charvet sale maybe but super rare, Hermés, strict never ever).

  33. CC,

    While I don’t expect you to abandon the tri-state area any time soon, we’d welcome you with open arms here in Winnetka!

  34. North Shore is nice, too. The Westchester of the Midwest.

  35. The new neo-prep is a great improvement over the old neo-prep. The clothes appear to be more traditional. It’s not costumey with patches and crests. It’s a looser cut and a friendlier fit. Clothes for real people – at least people over 30. I like it!

  36. Henry Contestwinner | September 27, 2018 at 3:31 pm |

    CC scribed,

    “You can trust the biased, it’s the “unbiased” who are the most untrustworthy.”

    Absolutely true—and the “unbiased” are utterly blind to their inclination.

    I think the key thing is to recognize that outside of pH, there is no such thing as neutral.

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