Ivy Trendwatch: News From The UK

E-commerce site Mr. Porter has unveiled a new collection by Paul Smith in which the British designer draws inspiration from “Take Ivy.”

According to the website’s announcement,

Sir Paul, who has been at the forefront of British fashion for five decades, is well placed to explain how Ivy style first came to the UK from the US. “In London the Ivy look was brought in by a lot of the GIs who were stationed out in places such as Cambridgeshire. They came into London at the weekends and went to clubs such as The Scene, in Soho. There was quite an interest in the way these guys dressed, because they looked so cool and slick.” In Sir Paul’s opinion, “The clothes are quite timeless, and there’s always been a hard core of fans.” That classic appeal brings a practical advantage: “It’s a look you can easily wear with your existing wardrobe,” he says.

And as those who’ve followed this website know, Ivy in the UK is associated not with the WASP establishment (save for popular icons such as the Kennedys), but with the world of jazz:

For the designer, the Kennedy clan – “all of them” – are the icons of the Ivy look. “There are lovely pictures of Jack wearing Converse All-Stars, regular trousers and a pale-coloured sweater with patch elbows. It’s the whole Hamptons look.” However, Sir Paul’s other source of Ivy inspiration comes from the music scene. “For me it was very much about the jazz era; Blue Note [a US jazz label] album covers always had these very cool-looking guys, with a very sharp look,” he remembers. “Herbie Hancock and John Coltrane were the guys who stood out as being very well dressed.”

As for the clothes, when the best item in your collection is a gray sweatshirt, perhaps you need to be more inspired.

And in other quasi-Ivy UK news….

The battle for young fashion preps is heating up. Rugby staked its claim several years ago, and Brooks Brothers has been amping up its youthful sportswear and opened its Flatiron store this past year complete with video games.

The latest entry, at least according to the May issue of GQ, is Jack Wills, a UK-based company that combines “British boarding school and American frat house” looks and operates 11 stores strategically located near college campuses. — CC

10 Comments on "Ivy Trendwatch: News From The UK"

  1. Hopefully, Paul Smith exercises better taste in “ivy” clothing than he did with his Triumph Bonneville designs. Credit is due concerning his very expensive motorcycle jackets, boots and tees, they were tasty.

  2. Of course the Kennedy’s weren’t WASPS, being Irish Catholics.

  3. woofboxer | May 3, 2012 at 9:51 am |

    Paul Smith has made a major contribution to UK fashion over the years, carrying a torch for the mod look during times when it was out of favour with the rest. However when any maker, UK or US, starts talking up their products as ‘Ivy’ a quick look usually confirms that, as in this case, it’s nothing of the sort. ‘Inspired by Ivy’ is another even more meaningless blurb covering almost anything from a button down shirt to a pair of khaki jeans. The word is just a marketing term, as it always has been of course.

  4. Christian | May 3, 2012 at 10:11 am |

    Quote: “The word is just a marketing term, as it always has been of course.”

    Sounds like you’ve had a pitcher of Russell Street Kool Aid!

  5. woofboxer | May 3, 2012 at 10:46 am |

    Ha ha, maybe I need to hang out with you more and get the balanced view. But the term ‘Ivy’ is certainly getting milked at present, not totally a bad thing I guess.

  6. Pickadildo Circus | May 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm |

    The Russell Street view is decidedly unbalanced.
    Jimmy is currently having more conversations with himself, about himself, again. He gets miffed when nobody takes the tired old bait though.

  7. a new collection by Paul Smith in which the British designer draws inspiration from “Take Ivy.”

    Ivy in the UK is associated not with the WASP establishment (save for popular icons such as the Kennedys), but with the world of jazz

    Ivy is unknown to most people in the UK, however to those who are familiar with it, it is associated with both ‘the WASP establishment’ and ‘the world of jazz’, not to mention actors and vast quantities (probably the majority) of the US male population in the 50s and 60s.

    Of course, Take Ivy only contains 1 photo of a jazz musician.

  8. Ivy Drip | May 5, 2012 at 9:23 pm |

    @Pickadildo Circus

    When Jimmy’s elaborate ploys fall flat, he just ups the ante and takes into overdrive. You can pretty much guarantee that 95% of his stories are utter bullshit. The more crazy and detailed he makes his story, the more you can be sure it’s completely fabricated.

  9. I’ve got quite a few Paul Smith items in my closet, and here’s my take…

    Paul Smith london – suits I’ve bought have been nice, and in looking at them, I would say the quality has been on a downward trend, with the earliest suit looking like the best fabric and construction, and the latest, being the least. Some are flashier than others.

    Shirts – boy werent these all the rage 5 years ago when 20 somethings would wear their colorful French cuffed Paul Smith shirts untucked with jeans.. (Ted baker falling nicely in line).. As true drress shirts, the muted versions are still ok, especially on sale, but for the same price off the rack, i would now go with Ermenegildo Zegna, Armani, or Canali.. But you can get bespoke for that neighborhood too..

    Love their gloves and scarves..

    Socks were ok for me, but the $30 price point doesn’t really do it for me.

    Some of their ps sportswear is ok.. I actually like the way a lot of their short sleeve shirts fit on me in the summer, ps jeans have never done much for me, and their sweaters are very hit or miss.. Most of them being miss.

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