Last we looked at Brits donning American duds, and today we seem them in their native English garb, albeit often anachronistically. If you’re an Anglophile and a bit of a young fogey, there’s a magazine for you — which covers such topics as tweed on film — that’s finally being distributed in the US. Of course, maybe it’s not your cup of tea. Andrew McCallum reports.
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The Chap has finally crossed the pond. As of September 20th, it is available in select Barnes & Noble locations. A digital edition is also available on issuu.com. For anyone who doesn’t google tweed, moustache maintenance, or anarcho-dandyism in the wee hours, The Chap is a UK satirical gentleman’s magazine. Despite being a fun read, the its staff and fans take civility and traditional clothing with due seriousness. They have even organized polite protests in which well-dressed ladies and gents have taken to the streets to share proper tea with the masses, to help little old ladies cross the street, and even to oppose Abercrombie and Fitch’s invasion of Savile Row.
There is much in the magazine that is likely to appeal to Ivy Style readers. The last issue had a profile on Rowing Blazers and a great article on tweed in film (which included a breakdown of the traditional Irish and American elements of John Wayne’s costumes in The Quiet Man). David Evans’ regular “The Grey Fox Column” is one of the finest resources I’ve come across on dressing well for older men. I’m only 37, but I wish I looked half as good as he does!
I had the privilege of asking Mr Gustav Temple, founder and editor of The Chap, a few questions about the magazine and its American debut.
IS: The Chap has been published since 1999. Why have you decided to expand to America now? Is this a sartorial intervention?
GT: I don’t think America needs a sartorial intervention! What it does need is a decent magazine that is dedicated to dressing well and the gentlemanly lifestyle. Many other magazines have come and gone since The Chap was founded, but most of them have either focused exclusively on the vintage scene (too narrow) or the luxury scene (too much bullshit). The Chap has always aimed to bridge the gap between living well in the modern world and retaining the integrity of past decades by wearing the clothes from those eras.
IS: Will the magazine be changing to accommodate American readers?
GT: Yes. We will focus less on London-centric events and outlets, and bring in more reviews and features on specific places in the US where what we call “Chappism” is celebrated. We will also stop using the phrase “here” meaning “in Britain”. We have showcased our first US-distributed edition with Dandy Wellington on the cover and interviewed inside. Generally, we will consider the relevance of certain people interviewed to an American readership, and try to interview as many Americans as possible – this is happening by default anyway, as some of the British chaps were ever interested in interviewing are either dead or already interviewed by us. We already have several American correspondents, and will be calling on them to write more and more features with US themes.
IS: Can North Americans be chaps? If so, are there any particularly chappy gents in public life over here?
GT: Of course – because anyone can be a chap. I can think of Dandy Wellington, Natty Adams, John Malkovich, Gay Talese, Baron Ambrosia, John Waters. I would also put Barack Obama clearly in the “gentleman” category. By publishing in the US, we are sure that more and more authentic chaps will materialise from the exposure and perhaps eventually appear in our pages.
IS: What is anarcho-dandyism? How can we use tweed, quality shoes, and ties to build a better life in world filled with cargo shorts and strip malls?
GT: By wearing the above-mentioned clothing items, we have already created a better life. It’s been clinically proven (well, demonstrated in practice anyway) that the more well-dressed people are seen in public areas, the more the rest of the public are encouraged to dress well. In the UK you can now buy a Harris Tweed jacket in Primark (think Walmart). This is the filter-down process of a few men switching back to tweed jackets in the early 2000s and gradually turning everyone back on to that style of dress. The cargo-pant wearers will never go away, but one day they might grow up (except the ones who are wearing cargo pants in their 70s).
IS: What do you think of the Ivy League Look?
GT: Love it. And I love the obsessive protocol and sartorial rule system (always, sometimes, never, etc). It’s the perfect American counterpart to the British upper class dress code (never brown in town, etc) and the existence, and persistence, of the Ivy League style, quite frankly, shows that our gentle mocking (while retaining a deep respect for) of the established order, will work across the Atlantic as effectively as it works on this side of the ocean.
— ANDREW MCCALLUM