England is just kicking off its first game in the World Cup, and so here’s a bit of belated Blighty Ivy news.
In the wake of the new documentary about UK Ivy pioneer John Simons, last month The Guardian ran a lengthy profile, in which the soon-to-be 79-year-old talks about the “magical and distant” place of midcentury America.
By way of snippet:
Austin’s sold almost exclusively American clothing, and it was here that Simons’ enduring love affair with the “Ivy League” look began: a collegiate, neat aesthetic typified by soft-shouldered, single-breasted suit jackets, slimfit trousers, Oxford shirts, penny loafers and a short-back-and-sides. Think JFK, or weekend Don Draper in polo shirt and chinos.
At Austin’s, there was no curation as such, and the shop was not a youth hangout. It was an old-fashioned retailer selling to middle-aged businessmen looking for a hint of Madison Avenue. En masse, the conservative-looking clothes could seem bland, but by picking out select lines and adding a distinctly British twist, it was possible to mould an entirely new look. Simons had found his niche.
“When you were born like I was, just as the war started, the big draw growing up was the US – for music, art and imagination. It was a magical and distant place with incredible style. The films, the TV … but it was the music that was especially big for me.” Rolled up with all this was a burgeoning love of jazz. He started having saxophone lessons – he still plays – and studied the look of his heroes on Blue Note record sleeves, still a source of inspiration.
“We started selling a green button-down shirt like the one Miles Davis wore on the cover of Milestones,” he says. It is still selling well.
Check out the full piece here. And good luck to England in the 2018 Cup. It’s not like we in this magical place can cheer for our own team. — CC