A year-and-a-half ago, before he was christened The Millennial Fogey, Daniel Greenwood wrote a piece for Ivy Style called “What Now? The Uncertain Future Of Neo-Prep.”
Now those in the towns that border Tradsville are starting to wonder the same thing.
Yesterday Put This On posted a long piece called “Whatever Happened To Prep?” The opening paragraph sets the scene:
In the mid-2000s, prep seemed ascendant. J. Crew sales were booming – critter shorts and tiny-collared OCBDs abounded. Grosgrain enthusiast Thom Browne won a CFDA award and got his own line at Brooks Brothers. Ralph Lauren launched an over-the-top youthful prep brand allegedly named after Ralph’s dog: Rugby. Vampire Weekend crooned about Cape Cod. Old prep labels like Gant were resurrected, and Barneys stocked new, prep-riffing labels like Band of Outsiders and Benjamin Bixby (well, they still have Band). The author of the Official Preppy Handbook was writing a sequel. Your favorite menswear bloggers were fiddling with Blogspot interfaces.
There’s no denying that the winds of fashion have changed, as they always do, and this is perhaps the right time to acknowledge the changes within Tradsville. Most of the hobby blogs have ceased; the Film Noir Buff Talk Ivy forum is quieter, with Ivy’s most infamous Internet troll now largely silent; and the Ivy Trendwatch category that monitored the publication of “Take Ivy” and the MFIT exhibit now rarely gets a new entry.
It’s somewhat ironic, then, that Ivy-Style.com’s own evolution has been to become more news-driven. While nostalgic images may have been a driving force for the first couple of years, today we find more fodder in what’s happening in the world around us — the clothes to wear, the people who wear them, and the endless fascination of social and temporal context. I think there’s a greater sense of immediacy in the site these days, even as the latest fashion moment winds down.
I spoke with Put This On’s reporter for nearly an hour. Fortunately he used my remarks about preppy-Ivy-trad being perennial. From the piece:
Prep has died many deaths. Counterculture killed the Ivy League look. Anti-yuppie sentiment killed prep. Rick Owens killed Rugby? But, as Williams told me, no matter what the style of the day is, “there will still be business for Ralph Lauren.” There will always be a prep flame burning in the window of a vaguely gothic building in Connecticut, and there will always be aspirants eager to learn everything about prep and then defend its borders, unasked. And despite indicators that prep is at an ebb, Vineyard Vines seems to be doing remarkably well.
“What remains, what has always remained, is this perennial style that goes back 100 years… This clothing will never go away,” said Chensvold. “There’s a new Polo flagship on 5th Avenue for all the tourists to see. It’s the same clothing. In fact, the uniform for associates when they opened was brushed shetland sweaters in all kids of bright colors you’d associate with preppy history.”
“Now that the fashion fascination is gone, what may remain is more true. Maybe there will be a rediscovery of the more sober side of things.”
It’s also worth acknowledging now, six-and-a-half years after launching this site, that I’ve had an absolute blast informing and entertaining you all — as well as being informed and entertained in turn. I’ve no immediate plans to retire (or get run over by another car), and regardless it is my wish that this ship always have a captain.
Soft shoulders and hard bop forever. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD
Addendum: This t-shirt, seen last week at the Pop-Up Flea trade show, neatly summarizes the fashion industry’s exploitive nature. It was in the booth for Mark McNairy, who created it several years ago, ahead of the curve.