Southern Discomfort: Haspel’s Awkward Entrance To The Prep Party

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Back in the summer of 2013, news broke that Haspel, famed New Orleans purveyor of seersucker and poplin, would undergo a relaunch with designers Shipley and Halmos at the helm. Formerly a licensed brand, Haspel would once again produce its own line, and do so in the USA. Traditionalists with fond memories of Haspel’s crisp, warm-weather suiting will no doubt be dismayed by the result, but by now they should be well acquainted with disappointment.

The collection is brightly colored, slim, and fanatically on-trend. Neo-prep tropes such as patch madras, bright chinos, and sockless loafers are hodgepodged together with the latest #menswear fetishes in the form of double-breasted jackets with bold windowpane checks. There is even a “dignified hoodie” in the form of a sailing jacket layered under a suit.

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No doubt Haspel is trying to appeal to the broadest base possible, but the effect is a congeries of discordant themes.

Any reference to the brand’s hundred-year history is limited to the “history” section of the company website; the clothes lack even the watered-down vintage look found in other heritage-inspired lines. Lacking any specific sense of time and place and disconnected from its past, Haspel is diluted by a vague “nowness” that fails to speak to any specific sensibility. It is neither totally neo-prep, nor Southern heritage, nor, despite signifiers such as patch pockets on a double breasted jacket, a sartorial lifestyle brand, and yet it strives to be all of these simultaneously.

This non-committal lack of focus might be the result of poor timing. In terms of the heritage prep trend, Haspel is certainly late to the lawn party. — ZD

Update: Haspel’s PR firm has informed us that Graj + Gustavsen is no longer working with the brand in any capacity, and that what was referred to as a “hoodie” is actually a sailing jacket. This article has been corrected to reflect this information.

24 Comments on "Southern Discomfort: Haspel’s Awkward Entrance To The Prep Party"

  1. Dignified or not, that hoodie looks out of place on that model. I like wearing a hoodie myself from time to time. A plain navy hoodie would look right when paired with khakis and a check shirt. But wearing it with a suit and tie just looks forced.

  2. Big shoulders.

  3. Ignoring the colors, the fit on the trousers appears at least to be superior to Brook’s slim cuts and York Street in that the rise provides room for male genitalia.

  4. The pieces themselves actually look fine. The styling in the lookbook is questionable at best. But as dwdry indicated, the fits look reasonable. Not as shrunken or over-detailed as some of the usual whipping boys.

  5. Let’s just be honest, there is no such thing as a dignified hoodie. There never was and never will be. Hoodie ≠ Dignified.

  6. ZD, it would be nice to read what your thoughts are in respects to another old guard retread…with the fellas over at Izod.

  7. Tom Conroy | March 17, 2014 at 7:20 pm |

    They were always very reasonably priced summer suits and I go back to the early 1980s. We shall see, but I don’t have high hopes. I think some private equity firm jumped in to make a killing. Probably a bad idea.

  8. @ Mike,

    Much as I like navy blazers, OCBDs and repp ties, there are times when such garments just won’t do: walking the dog, running errands or playing guitar on a beach at night. That’s when I’d wear my undignified hoodie 😉 or maybe a rugby shirt as an extra layer

  9. Sailing jacket with a suit must have been the nail in the coffin for Graj + Gustavsen.or maybe it was the orange shoes.

  10. I was put on my guard the moment I saw the word “designer” in the first sentence of the piece, and then turned off for good by the term “collection” when I went out to their website.

  11. There are some miscues in here, but to be honest, I think it’s a credible effort. I realize this is a ivy fetishist blog, but just because something isn’t authentic doesn’t mean it’s automatically awful. This stuff is miles better than York Street. It’s not far off from contemporary Ralph Lauren, though the pieces are worn a bit more aggressively in these shots.

  12. @ Alex

    Nothing against hoodies. My point is a hoodie does not make anyone look more dignified.

    Wearing a BB blazer will make almost anyone look more dignified. I would argue that a hoodie has the opposite effect.

    There is certainly a time and place for casual attire. Mixing formal and casual elements is a delicate balance. Every case I’ve seen where a hoodie is mixed with trad the wearer would look significantly better if they removed the hoodie.

  13. JR’s comment that this is an “ivy fetishist blog” is both unfair and inaccurate. My own observation is that the comments show a wide range of readers’ tastes from old fogey purist ivy aficionados at one extreme to supporters of York Street/Thom Browne frivolities at the other. From Grey Ivy to Gay ivy, as one commenter put it.

  14. In this day and age it’s hard to be a purist, if possible at all.

  15. David Criswell | March 18, 2014 at 8:12 pm |

    So who makes the best hot weather trousers now? My last pair of SS were bespoke and I didnt feel I got my moneys worth. The time prior was BB and they were from the mid 90s and lasted a decade before I had them made into shorts. Thanks for the ideas/ dac

  16. I would say that my alma mater’s hoodie is one of my most prized possessions. Worn over an ocbd and paired with khakis, there is nothing preppier for a midnight doughnut run with friends. Then wear it for your jogs around the neighborhood, as well.

    It just has to have your alma mater on it, of course. None of this faking business. Someone will call you on it.

  17. Minimalist Trad | March 19, 2014 at 12:58 am |


    “Hard to be a purist”?

    Would you please elaborate?

    I have no difficulty whatsoever in finding and wearing the same items that I’ve preferred since the mid-1960s

  18. The models look as though they are at a fraternity party, with the beer bottles in hand and resting on the floor and the dart in hand. I don’t get the impression that this is clothing made for, or marketed to, grown-ups. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, because college students need clothes, too.

  19. Minimalist Trad

    Similar items or same items?

  20. The market for more clothes that help you dress in a more traditional style seems to be small and decreasing, so it seems to make perfect sense for Haspel to focus their efforts on more lucrative and growing market segments. Ditto for Brooks Brothers, J. Press, etc.

    A Brooks Brothers salesman recently told me that over 90 percent of the shirts that they sell these days are non-iron models, so the market for the older “must iron” models is essentially gone. Similarly, the realities of market forces are also dictating what other vendors make.

  21. When I was in college, just like the guys in the picture above, I used to wear my sunglasses indoors, set my empty beer bottles on the fraternity house floor, and be lax about tucking in my shirttails.

  22. Minimalist Trad | March 25, 2014 at 10:05 am |


    The ties and lapels are wider.
    The flannels are a bit thinner.
    The chinos and OCBD shirts are non-iron, thank God.

  23. @rojo

    If you look at the top picture, except for the guy in the blue double-breasted jacket, you could almost certainly find times that I looked exactly like that in college. I personally never wore sunglasses indoors or my shirt partially tucked in, but I wore unironed cotton button-downs on a fairly regular basis. It seemed like the cool thing to do was to wear pretty much the same clothes that you wore in prep school, but to wear them with obvious disdain for them.

  24. Personally, I have to agree with a lot of the other commenters.

    For the Ivy/Trad die-hard, I can see this (and everything essentially) being unacceptable.

    For the “preppy” set, I don’t see too much of a problem.

    … Other than that awkward hoodie/blazer combo. That being said, a hoodie CAN (not always) be preppy. Never Ivy IMHO.

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