A Very Good Year: Hillflint’s Ivy League Class Sweaters


Ed Heald (Dartmouth ’68) may have had to sweat through soccer tryouts to earn the famous sweater that bore the date of his graduation and appears twice in the pages of “Take Ivy,” but now, thanks to a team of entrepreneurial young Ivy Leaguers, a vintage-inspired collegiate sweater can be had with only the exertion required of e-commerce.

Founded by John Shi in 2012 after his graduation from Dartmouth, Hillflint produces sweaters in extra-fine merino wool bearing the colors and letters of Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Cornell.

According to Shi, his company began with the intention of “bringing back an old collegiate tradition from the ‘Take Ivy’ era” and Hillflint started small, owing its growth to word-of-mouth among students and faculty on Ivy League campuses.

1968 guy

Rather than simply reproducing the coarse texture of vintage knitwear, Shi says he set out to improve upon the original collegiate sweaters by creating a garment that is “super soft, as well as be able to last for generations.”
Owing to their athletic heritage, Hillflint sweaters have a raglan sleeve, crew neck, and trim fit. Future graduates can purchase sweaters with their class year through Hillflint’s website, and alumni can contact the company directly for custom orders.

For Ivy League grads not looking to date themselves, Hillflint has an upcoming line of Heritage Sweaters, with the institution’s letter replacing the class year, vailable for pre-order.


In addition to their Ivy League sweaters, Hillflint also offers a line of school ties through a collaboration with upstart neckwear brand Hitsman. Made in New York from English repp silk, the narrow ties come in both a traditional stripe and an understated dot pattern that, while tasteful, might be too subtle to get one photographed in the cafeteria line by a visiting team of Japanese photographers. — ZACHARY DELUCA

24 Comments on "A Very Good Year: Hillflint’s Ivy League Class Sweaters"

  1. I was introduced to this sweater due to my tall, lean build…ok…I’m a lanky bastard, but this is artfully done and lays my Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and J. Crew sweaters to rest. I am not a big promoter, especially when a site requires my email address to post a comment…but these guys have improved and essentially reinvented the sweater. Also, these make an excellent $100> Christmas present for anyone (**they have sweaters without Ivy logos**).

    If you enjoy making money and saving your profits, their Kickstarter, with $85 sweaters, has some time left (~20 hours), and they do a better job explaining…http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shi/hillflint-the-mark-one-sweater.

    Happy Holidays,


  2. Got one of the first Harvard numeral sweaters when they were released (and quickly sold out) in the Spring; pretty long wait (2+ months), but it was well worth it. Construction and craftsmanship easily compare to sweaters that cost multiples of what they are charging.

    On the other hand they seem to be perennially out of stock…will be interesting to see how they grow

  3. Didn’t attend an Ivy but it is nice to see a #menswear kickstarter that isn’t just about denigrating overseas manufacturing and “cutting out the middle man”.

  4. I have several Hillfint sweaters and they are all extremely well made. I have the first one they made for harvard as a custom order and they matched the exact pantone color of harvard crimson.

  5. Too bad that Hitsman ties aren’t available in an adult width.

  6. Ironchefsakai | December 18, 2013 at 12:30 am |

    Who would want one of these in a low-gauge yarn? Isn’t the whole point that these were more robust and handmade?

  7. These Hillflint sweaters seem similar to the Pringle crewnecks popular in the early to mid1960s.

  8. So, it’s antique dress up sweater week on here, huh? I can’t imagine any scenario where wearing a ‘sweater’ like this wouldn’t immediately identify the wearer as a total clown. And, the fact that at least three separate companies exist that make old fashioned 1960-style college sweaters is one more drop of proof that the menswear trend has crossed all sorts of lines….

    Regardless of where one went to college, no one – not other alums, not current students, not university staff – cares….(aside, perhaps, a few earnest folks in the development office and job recruiters). No one cares. If you must send masses of strangers overt signals of pride and perceived accomplishent, dress with self-awareness in restrained, well tailored, good quality clothes….and, if you really can’t resist, buy a t shirt or sweatshirt that has some practical application and be done with it for heavens sake.

    I understand people need to find ways to put their college degrees to work, but c’mon….this is just absurd.

  9. Three’s a trend!

    I’m generally sympathetic to expressions of school pride. Today’s Ivy Leaguers have worked so hard, for so long, towards one goal, with increasingly questionable payoffs, that they understandably crave recognition and affirmation of that work and their choices from others.

    I do find embracing a symbol from an era that really bears no relation to the modern Ivy League ironic, though. Would these proprietors have even had the opportunity to attend their beloved alma mater back when these sweaters were popular? Would they even recognize the values of the institution then? Would the institution value them? Questionable, all.

  10. Yarvton, like Oxbridge, isn’t all it’s made out to be. But it’s unlike almost every other place. And many do care — other alums, current students, university staff (as well as the development office and job recruiters). As do masses of others afflicted with the popular malady of Reverse Snobbery. Of course, in the modest old days Letter Sweaters were usually worn inside-out.

  11. I think this is my third bitter post about the same thing: for the guy who did in fact sweat his nuts off during soccer practice to earn his varsity sweater, it’s sad to see some hip e-shopper hijack your accomplishment.

    I don’t understand why “bringing back an old collegiate tradition from the ‘Take Ivy’ era” is necessary when many of the Ivies still award varsity sweaters to their athletes.

  12. I knew a gentleman who wore a cream colored sweater with an “S” on the front (Stanford) at every home football game. He had been doing so for many, many years. I once complimented him on how great the sweater looked after so many years of wear. He said, “I only wear it to our football games and promptly return it to my dresser drawer.” He was in his early seventies at the time. He was a terrific role model in many ways.

  13. A.E.W. Mason | December 18, 2013 at 7:08 pm |


    I have to say I agree with you about these sweatshirts. But then, I’ve never understood this “school spirit” thing. But my colleagues at the office are very much into it; these are fellows in their mid to late 60’s and early 70’s.

    On your “antique dress up sweater week” comment, I had been thinking that this week the blog might more aptly be called “Ivy (With a Vengeance) Style.”

  14. AEV has an unerring ability to cut through the crap.

  15. AEV, I would have agreed with you not that long ago. Usually only the really old guys (say class of 60 and earlier) wore the sweaters I thought, and you’d see them on rowers and that sort of thing. But the kids were all wearing them at Homecoming this year. And come to think of it a lot of the alums wear them to football games and alumni reunions and stuff. The class year thing is especially big at Dartmouth because there’s a lot of identification with your graduating year. Everyone gets the class jerseys that look like this (class year sweaters at the Coop were usually really expensive):


    But you see the sweaters on alums that aren’t a million years old, too:


    Anyway, I think wearing these things is limited to rah rah college functions. I can’t imagine just wearing it around town.

  16. I’m Class of 1993 at Princeton, and when I was a junior I bought a traditional black sweater with an orange “1993” at the old (now closed) H. Gross & Co. in Palmer Square. I wore it a lot my senior year. I still have it, although I rarely wear it; it seems rather obnoxious outside of Princeton. And it was hardly fashionable when I bought it: Although I got a kick out of it, most of the class sweaters sold were for older alumni. It didn’t help that it was very expensive; I think it was something like $70, which in 1993 was a fortune for a student.

  17. Awful.

    If one wants the old school Waspy-Tweedy-Preppy thing, then “Yarvton” is indeed unlike a great many schools (mostly in the South, I’ll argue) where good taste prevails aming the majority. Princeton may have a slight leg up, but compared with an HSC or W&L–well, not a fair fight.

    Well damned said, AEV. “Restrained, well tailored…” Spot on.

  18. Further, I get the sense that a lot of modern day Ivy League students who buy this stuff are engaging in no small amount of wink-wink, smirk-smirk irony. (Vampire Weekendish). Whereas the population at plenty of other schools (again, I’ll venture, mostly in the South) wear blazers, cords, tweeds, and OCBDs earnestly and even thoughtlessly.

    Paul Winston once remarked to me that, looking back upon his many years in the business, the two schools best known for good (sartorial) taste were/are Princeton and UVA. I wondered if Princeton makes the list because Princeton attracts a substantial Southern population. He didn’t disagree.

  19. Yeah, S.E. I think that’s partly right. But a lot of southern schools are Vineyard Vines and other garbage these days. I think plenty of the Ivy kids wearing these sweaters to alumni functions and football games are doing it earnestly.

  20. @AEV – Dartmouth ’11 here. Hillflint has actually made its name because it is creating “restrained, well tailored, good quality” clothes. The sweaters are slimmer than what the typical book store is offering — which might not be saying much, but it really does fit fantastically and without the obnoxious frump of typical sweaters — and their merino is so awesome that my classmates and I constantly ogle over how soft ours are. I think what’s particularly cool is that they make it more accessible to the college dime by bypassing the steep markups and selling direct to customer.

    As for restrained, I suppose that’s a matter of opinion, and on this blog I might be in the minority — but my sense is that students at the Ivy Leagues love Hillflint’s sweaters because they are pretty restrained expressions of school pride. They definitely stand in contrast to the typical stuff in the school stores which is just loud and obnoxious tee shirts or cotton hoodies. At Homecoming 2013 it felt like everyone was wearing one! And the president of the school – Philip Hanlon – wore his Hillflint Class Year sweater in his speech before many thousand alums. My friends at Princeton and Yale have told me that kids there are also crazy about Hillflint.

  21. Roman Bertozzi | December 5, 2014 at 12:58 pm |

    Great classic style. Truly bring out the aura of the classic Ivy league prep. Truly timeless style.

  22. Well that’s certainly a ringing endorsement one year later!

  23. I just recently bought a “heritage” sweater for my grad school. *shrugs* Pretty excited to see it face-to-face and how it fits. If I ever do wear it, I’ll wear it at football games.

  24. Update: The merino sweater is awesome – amazingly soft and sturdy – that garnered me a couple of complements when attending my university’s football game (not that I was fishing for any). Hillflint has added more schools and designs and I’m currently looking at another version to add to my collection.

    Note: Just gauging at my university’s collection, where some sizes were out of stock across numerous versions, it seems like the word is spreading and many are purchasing. At least the students will be well-dressed during game time, if only for a few hours.

    And I just chuckle at those who do not understand “school spirit.” How old are you? In America, there is a world outside the East Coast and LACs. Sometimes it’s good to venture inward once in a while than the usual trip to London and Paris.

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