Photography Catches Up With Ivy (or vice versa) And The Amazing Tom Brings His A Game This Week

There was a period of Ivy marketing where you couldn’t determine much about how any product was different from any other product because the photography looked… the same.  And then a decade passed and you couldn’t determine much about the product, or even what decade you were looking at because the photography looked… the same.

Ivy resurged. (Dean, that is probably not a word, sorry.  But it ought to be.)  Several things are required for such a resurgence.  Amongst the top tier of those requirements is cultural relevance.   Look at the Christmas tree.  Stood the test of time, right?  But to do so, it had maintain cultural relevance.  Some of that was very, very good.  Some of it was godawful.


I mean, look, I LOVED the 70’s if for no other reason than James Taylor. I got to grow my hair feathered. But an aluminum Christmas Tree is heretical. BUT. It was culturally relevant.


We’ve done some talking recently about packaging, one of the disciplines of marketing, and I have argued that it is self-contradictory to say on the one hand that you do not give a whit about packaging while on the other complaining when anyone dresses in anything but Ivy.   My working theory is that people who say they do not respond to packaging (marketing) are really wanting to think is that they are too smart or sensible to be able to be sold anything.  It is very hard to argue that you are particular about your dress but above caring what things look like.

I’ve been going back and forth with the The Original Madras Trading Company’s website, something about it really resonates.   Prasan Shah and I are texting anyway (he is in Italy and sending me pictures just to make me crave pasta when I still have 4 pounds to go) so I ask him who wrote the site, because it has a great voice.  Turns out he and his designer did.   But that isn’t the whole thing.  Then it hits me.

You don’t see photography like this in Ivy.

This photo is a link to the shirt, too, but look. This is an Ivy rig. But we are not at a cookout or in front of a classic car. And by representing the product in a different way, you speak to a different audience. This is a conservative Original Madras shirt in a completely different context, which makes it culturally relevant.


Or this.


It’s a button down collar shirt, madras. Yep. But look how it is lit, and look how the shirt is not on its back. Update the photography and the style follows, right? This picture is a link, too.


Or here. You typically see the back of a shirt in a setting. Like me running away from my proofreader. But this image gives you a real sense of the product, a real sense of its own cultural origin, AND no fake smile!


Anyway, I encourage the movement.  St John does this well too, their site communicates a big message with just the photography, which is another accomplishment because they are not selling something you look at.

The Amazing Tom is a machine.  Every week I am blessed with a half dozen articles he sends me.  Some of them I use, some of them are inspiration for other ideas, some I don’t work with.

Because fashion writing, with a very few exceptions, is devoid of actual writing.

But the last week, The Amazing Tom has been on a very serious roll.    In no particular order:

  1. He sent an article from the Times (paywall so not linked) that made the case that designers are disguising plastic as vegan leather.   Man if that isn’t classic.  Vegan leather.  Sober drinking.  SMH.
  2. An article from the Wall Street Journal, also pay walled, about the Search For A Unsweaty Summer Suit. Ok, but does it have to be an ugly one?

Hey Dean (proofreader) how come the Wall St. Journal can use Unsweaty and I can’t say Resurged?

3. Todd Snyder’s Newsletter, where they introduce, wait for it, AN ACTUALLY NON-SQUEEZE OCBD!  All it took was a middle-aged dad with a gut (former) and a blog, and behold!   Seriously, check these out:

Ok. I’m not saying anyone has seen the light or anything, but this is near religious for me.


Here they are on:

Mr. Snyder, you are missing an opportunity ova here.

4.  Crittenden Rawlings passed.  I don’t own any of their pieces, but The Amazing Tom sent me a tribute from Mr and he sounded like a great guy, and if this photo is any indication, he had serious taste:

Mr. Crittenden Rawlings


If you have anything you want me to see, or just want to email me: is the address.



38 Comments on "Photography Catches Up With Ivy (or vice versa) And The Amazing Tom Brings His A Game This Week"

  1. I luv it ol’ chum. Fotografi is so important and Ivy ain’t on the ball yet chums. ‘TWAS saying this the other day to Woofter Boxer and his chums and they were ‘wiv’ me all the way.

  2. Crit Rawlings, consistently tattersall’d and tweedy and toroiseshell’d, persevered in faithful stewardship of a very particular, classic, “old school” style. He was a close friend of a close friend, and, as more than a few stories go, the great Norman Hilton deemed his taste impeccable. Which is saying something — well, a lot. There was a time when “Southern Traditional” (an actual thing because it’s an actual phrase I actually heard–a lot) had nothing to do with Vineyard Vines-ish kit (oh, the irony) and pastel by-God everything* (southern frat dudes love this stuff, don’t they?), and everything to do with “country jackets” (another actual phrase I actually heard growing up) that featured zero padding and the best U.K.-woven cloth; almost always accompanied by gray serge bottoms. Crit, latterly a prophet because the-times-they-are-a-changin’, preached this very particular, classic, “old school” style like few others. Nowadays we catch glimpses as we consider the windows of Ben Silver, The Andover Shop, and O’ Connell’s. The vibe is much, MUCH more ‘country collegiate’/equestrain than Gold Coast Yachtsman.

    R.I.P, Mr. Rawlings.

  3. Woofter Boxer | June 14, 2022 at 9:29 am |

    You are dead right Horace. When I was in the force, we often told the supers that nice photos of us would make folk like us more.

    But back to Ivy Jivy. Don t know ’bout u old mate but when I see a good photo of a rig I’m much more inclined to put my truncheon away and take out my wallet.

  4. Spartacus | June 14, 2022 at 9:44 am |

    Speaking of OCBD’s, just got my hands on several heyday Brooks’ OCBD’s from early ’80s. Still in great condition, can’t beat this quality.

  5. A Fine Sad Man | June 14, 2022 at 10:00 am |

    Photography can bring Ivy Style fashion to new heights. New brands will be easier to evaluate, websites can display the latest Ivy news, plus will customers are getting more information on the products they are buying.

    Great thread John. I will take my camera out of storage!

  6. I attempted another post, but maybe this one will make it: succinctly stated, Crit was Old School in the best sense of the phrase. He was a close friend of a close friend (and former boss), and Norman Hilton deemed his taste impeccable. R.I.P., Crit.

    • John Burton | June 14, 2022 at 3:31 pm |

      There’s a tighter filter in place now, but if you write something and it doesn’t appear right away rest assured I will check it, I do that a few times a day. Also, if you write something and don’t see it and want to nudge me, just email me at and I will get on it.

  7. G. Bruce Boyer | June 14, 2022 at 12:17 pm |

    I hadn’t known that Crit had passed. He very definitely had serious taste, and a ton of knowledge and experience too.

  8. Crit Rawlings was a man of style, for sure.

    Worth noting amidst the derision of “Gold Coast Yachtsmen”, that “country collegiate” and the dreaded Yachtsmen are often two sides of the same coin – at least in the more scenic and less backwater-y NE and Mid-Atlantic locales.

    Know a lot of people who move between country and shore both above and below the line, all know and dress appropriately for each. Southern frat dudes are a lucrative market, but have little to do with either group, save a very, very few schools

  9. Hardbopper | June 14, 2022 at 3:52 pm |

    Funny because just yesterday I was thinking that many things look better in black and white. Photography is more honest than the sketches of 6’4”, 175 lb. men in suits.

  10. Ok, I have to ask, WTH is SMH?

  11. I’m somewhat embarrassed to comment after the likes of G. Bruce Boyer and others with encyclopedic Ivy knowledge that the first I’d ever heard of Crittenden Rawlings was in reading this post. It looks like his company’s site is certainly active and operational. I hope it continues; some terrific wares are offered there.
    Good to know that Todd Snyder is hopping on the OCBD train. Their take on it looks like a perfectly good shirt, though the collar could do with a little more roll.
    That vegan leather article in the Times is an overdue look at the continued overuse (and scourge) of plastics in clothing. Benjamin Braddock’s dad’s friend was, alas, all too prescient. Hopefully we can start to think of “performance” fabrics and leather substitutes differently someday. Speaking of performance fabrics, why not Madras? It’s comfortably lightweight, airy, stylish, classic, goes with almost everything in one’s wardrobe? I might not wear it to exercise in, …but then again I might.

    • Jordan Ross | June 15, 2022 at 12:02 am |

      Some of the younger followers of this site might not recognize Nevada’s Benjamin Braddock reference since it’s now been 55 years since “The Graduate” appeared and those of us who saw the film as undergrads are now in our late 70s. Here’s a link to the scene:

      • Thank you for adding the explainer and link, Jordan Ross. I do suppose the “Plastics” line isn’t quite on the same level as “It’s the stuff that dreams are made of,” and “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need… roads.”
        In addition to being a very good Mike Nichols film, The Graduate also features some pretty impeccably Ivy costuming. Anyone here who hasn’t seen it probably should.

  12. roger sack | June 14, 2022 at 4:40 pm |

    Why do even show NON-ROLL button-downs?

  13. There isn’t really anything special or unique about the photography here. Lots of companies, Ivy or not, use models to show off their apparel. The “Ivy rig” photo you featured isn’t even in focus.

    • John Burton | June 15, 2022 at 8:01 am |

      You really don’t notice anything unique about that Ivy marketing? Wipe your screen. It’ll clear up the photo.

  14. Could I just say, John ol’ chum, on behalf of all my chums on the TI forum how much we appreciate your guidance. I am afraid we became lost after the sad departure of our leader Jim who was a main man.
    Keep up the good work chum!

  15. The Graduate (1967)

    Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
    Benjamin: Yes, sir.
    Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
    Benjamin: Yes, I am.
    Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

  16. Always glad to see good photography, and clean, clear pictures of the goods are much more likely to get me to consider spending money on them (There are some terrific pics out there of people jumping, running and lounging that make me envious…but give me no idea of how the clothes look, or if they are a good cut for me).
    As to imitation leather….remember “WKRP” “Genuine imitation leather, don’t accept cheap substitutes”.

  17. A Fine Sad Man | June 15, 2022 at 1:09 pm |

    As our ‘Orace says John, it’s just gee whizz to have a new leader. Keep up the good work as we teachers say.

  18. As much as I like Todd Snyder for a few certain things (e.g., Champion sweatshirts), that OCBD is a no. Thanks to the photography, we can see the wimpy placket, lame collar, unwanted pocket button, etc.

    • AndrewK247 | June 15, 2022 at 7:19 pm |

      The photography along with the price ($148 for ONE shirt, with no discount for multiples!) results in 0% chance of me buying this shirt.

      Per the photograph of the blue shirt, the placket looks too prominent/coarse, and along with the awkward pocket button, small/trendy collar, and apparently whitish rather than clear buttons, makes this look like a $30 work shirt I can buy at Wal-Mart.

      Just gonna have to agree to disagree with you on this one.

      • Have to agree here. Todd Snyder makes some decent clothes, albeit a bit overpriced at retail, but this Oxford shirt isn’t it.

    • Agree here. Todd Snyder makes some great clothes, albeit a bit overpriced at times, but this Oxford shirt isn’t it.

  19. Smiling models almost always look silly and cheap – especially male ones.
    Best option is to avoid models altogether and simply display the product against a white background.

  20. The Real Woofter Boxter | June 16, 2022 at 4:59 am |

    As other esteemed posters have said, well done John, it’s really top drawer to have a chap who knows his Ivy onions running this site.

  21. Gibson Gardens | June 16, 2022 at 5:58 am |

    Great thread.

    This site has now become my go to Ivy site. Mind you it really is the only Ivy site. Others try, but try as they may they can’t compete eith Ivy Style.

  22. You are reader right than s dead dingo’s dong Gibbers ‘ol chum. Ivy Style now opens doors to Ivy with real style. On my Facebook page I have had dozens of newbies who wanna give Ivy a try coz of this site. Brooks and Ralphie and so on get ready for a busy time chums.

  23. Sorry chums. I meant ‘deader right than a dead dingo’s dong ‘. Can’t get tighter than that chums. Thanks to ol Wòofter for texting me about the typo.

  24. A Fine Sad Man | June 16, 2022 at 8:39 am |

    Fantastic news Horace!!!

    It’ll be far out if the phrase ‘Ivy League’, in a strictly contemporary context, become a commonplace. The entire concept appeared to have gone underground, and now this site is bringing it overground again. For a while it was savy davy wavy, with bits and bobs of tat being offered/flogged as ‘Ivy League’ (generally with Weller/skinhead/yoof culture connotations), about a million miles removed from the original John Simons vision, taken up with gusto by TRS and others.  A jacket by ‘Canda’ was said to be Now let’s hope the kiddos go for bleeding patch Madras.  Frankly, I don’t even like denim very much, raw or otherwise but that’s my funeral. At my age it’ll soon be here anyways. Lol.

  25. Fernand Samsa | June 26, 2022 at 8:59 am |

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