Prep For All

A little preview of our forthcoming post.

Though it came out in spring, I hadn’t seen this until this week. — CC

41 Comments on "Prep For All"

  1. Another ad created by Millenials from god knows where who never even owned a suit in their life.

    Does this make anyone want to buy Sperry products? When will these companies learn to stop alienating their customers or target market?

  2. And what is their target market? Trad/Ivy wearers? I doubt it – that market isn’t even enough to support J. Press or the Andover Shop. Sperry is just a shoe company these days, like Timberland or Converse, and “prep” is just a marketing term, like “rugged.”

    The fact that Sperry has diversified its demographic means you might not buy their products, but they’ll survive, just like Brooks Brothers has. They aren’t alienating their customers with this ad – you just don’t know who their customers actually are.

  3. You’re right – I didn’t know their customer base included parrot shoulder wearers or bike-riding fire hockey players.

    The next time I am playing tennis in an empty pool, I’ll be sure to wear my new Sperry’s.

  4. This is worse….
    I just got back from MAGIC and the guy
    manning the Bill’s Khaki’s both had a manbun.

  5. Was that a real ad? Looked like some kid’s trite little entry in a third-rate video competition. If you didn’t know who Sperry was, you’d have no idea WTH was going on here.

  6. Socialist Prep?

  7. @Michael,
    Could you help this old Trad understand what MAGIC is? Thanks for the enlightenment.

  8. …and what is a manbun?

  9. I was at ICAST trade show in Orlando in July and visited the Sperry booth. It was pretty trad/preppy by any standard and not in the caricatured way of this video. Boat shoes, canvas and leather traditional styles were all over the place along with some cool marketing items (sailboat models, sextant, America’s Cup posters, etc.) Not a manbun or parrot in sight.

  10. Terry O’Reilly | August 17, 2018 at 8:55 am | Reply

    @Journeyman a “man bun”, also known as a “twat knot” or a “douche doughnut”, is a hipster-riffic way of wearing one’s hair in a pseudo-samurai, knotted style atop one’s ultra-hip head. In a post-urban lumbersexual world, one has to keep abreast of all the cool trends.

  11. Miles Coverdale | August 17, 2018 at 9:01 am | Reply

    So much outlaw imagery. Trespassing into the pool, flaming street hockey (during which the screen flashes “Don’t try this at home” or some similar message, the parrot = piracy, and the motorcylce is, of course, rebellion. Why is the media always valorizing the bad guy?

  12. Miles Coverdale | August 17, 2018 at 9:13 am | Reply

    I probably should have written “parrot” above with quotation marks. Obviously the creature in question is not even a bird, but taking Charles’ cue, as a matter of connotative imagery, as a shoulder-perching creature, it may as well be a pirate’s parrot.

  13. Old School Tie | August 17, 2018 at 9:33 am | Reply

    I do not own any of their products, but if I did they would be thrown out with the rubbish (trash) as we speak…..

  14. I’m trad, I wouldn’t wear anything shown in the ad or do anything done in the ad, and I love the ad. All of you have you have missed the larger message, which is this: Dress Up and Look Up and Aspire Up and Imitate Up, even if you are not Up. The kids who break into pool to play tennis do it because they don’t have the money or status to join a real club, and they probably do not know how to behave, but they wish they had money and status and manners. They wish they knew how to act and dress. Take a look at the tailor and the woman for whom he is making a suit. He’s trad. She has bad taste, or no taste, but she’s aspiring in the right direction, she’s Imitating Up. The same message comes through with lizard/shoulder man, the kids playing “polo” in the street, the friends spending summers at a “house” by the “beach.” All of the people have a sense of occasion or ceremony, even if they lack taste or knowledge. They are Identifying Up. The ad is directly opposed to the idea of the elite dressing down, aiming down, aspiring down, Identifying Down. There are no ripped or distressed jeans. There are no $300 white t-shirts. No farm clothes or gym clothes, no uniform inspired prole gear. It’s a wonderful ad. We should celebrate it. I hope it encourages more young people to Identify Up, to Look Up. The rest will come.

  15. @Charles How do you know Millennials made this video?

  16. Style without substance….could be Sperry’s motto. After serial bad experiences with their shoes in recent years, I say “no mas”. How much make can you take out of a shoe before you label it: shoe-like.

  17. @M Arthur

    Possible Halloween post there.

  18. MAGIC is the biggest fashion trade show, held in Vegas with over 100K visitors and countless thousands of vendors. The original acronym is something like Mens Apparel and Garment Industry Coalition, though now it’s mens and womens.

    I went there a number of times as a reporter coving the show, and then spent a couple years as a freelance copywriter working for MAGIC itself. It was a lucrative gig, even if 5 days in Vegas was hell. One time, though, I got upgraded to a suite so large I got lost in it.

  19. Just an FYI, they sell Sperry’s at both Journey’s and Pacific Sun at your local mall. Journey’s tends to be an urban/hipster focused shoe store, while Pac Sun is for skateboarders and surfers. And they have been selling them at both locations for years. Not sure why all the outrage. Sperry hasn’t been a “prep” brand for a long time.

  20. How can five days in Vegas be hell? There is roulette, showgirls, and all-you-can-eat buffets. It’s like the movie Swingers, lots of guys walking around in wild ties and black shirts.

  21. Don’t overthink this stuff.

    I don’t know if the ad was made by millenials, but it was certainly aimed at men in their 20’s and early 30’s. That generation is all about mocking tradition. Straight forward sales pitches — especially those that smack of elitism — is “uncool.” Employing irony and mockery is “cool.” Using them to make fun of your own product is “very cool.” Example: The world’s most interesting man beer ads.

    And perhaps Sperry’s are viewed now as “uncool.” In a recent post about summer footwear at Put This On, the writer said boat shoes (or deck shoes when I grew up) “remind you of the kind of people who wear Nantucket reds and tennis sweaters” and advised against waring them because of the “social baggage.” Whether you disagree with his opinion is not important. What’s important is that a well-known men’s style blog — that specializing in advising young men about their style — criticized them.

    That’s not good news for Sperry, especially because a great deal of market research has found that consumers make most of their brand choices in their 20’s.

    Perry is trying to respond with this ad. The old-school announcer and goofy images are meant to mock peppy/trad/Ivy, to make the viewer chuckle and to turn a product young men would otherwise dismiss into something that’s cool and should be purchased. In other words, Sperry is just trying to find new customers, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what advertising is meant to do.

    I’m 59, so a lot of this stuff goes way over (or under?) my head. However, once I realize that it’s not meant for me, well, I’m cool with that.

  22. May I suggest a trip to BoatUS, West Marine and other marine supply stores for straight forward Sperry Topsiders.

    Just broke out new 75th anniversary blue canvas Sperrys last week. May soon be able to wear aboard vintage Cape Dory Typhoon in the Chesapeake Bay.

    Fair winds and following seas.

    Will

    • Unfortunately for me, Sperry doesn’t make a 14B, but I have found a decent and less-expensive alternative from Dunham. AE also makes a couple of models.

  23. Two things, Spellcheck changed Sperry to Perry in one sentence, and I’m currently wearing a pair of extraordinarily run-down deck shoes. Most of the damage can be attributed to the fact that mine have actually been on boats on numerous fishing trips at the Texas coast.

  24. Charlottesville | August 17, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Reply

    I have worn Sperry’s since my teens, and at least as of a few years ago, they still offered traditional models in canvas and leather. If the hideous marketing supports their continued viability, it’s regrettable but I suppose fine with me. However, if it is a harbinger of decline (see Bills, Duckhead, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bass, and of course BB), at least I have a few pairs in the closet to see me through the coming unpleasantness.

    As others have noted, ours is a niche market and getting “niche-er” by the day. I hope for J. Press to continue, and am grateful that McConnell’s is still carrying the torch. Nevertheless, the direction of men’s clothing has gone down a far different and I think very sad path. Although I prefer the 3/2 sack and plain-front pants (my father always called then trousers, but I get corrected on that these days), I would be happy to see 2-button Southwick tweeds and well-cut pleated khakis, rather than the skin-tight, short suits in stretchy blend and gym clothes that I usually see.

    I regularly get complements from young guys, but they continue to go to GAP, Banana Republic or whatever store they find at the local mall, and I can no longer even suggest they try Brooks, where they are likely to find a stretch suit with a zip-out leather-trimmed fleece hoodie for $1,400 (or 3 for $1,400 on sale). A fellow sitting at a conference table with me recently was wearing a skin-tight suit, dress shirt too tight to get the sleeve cuffs or collar buttoned, skinny tie, and penny loafers sans socks; and he was the only other man there who appeared to be putting any effort at all into his appearance. Even if he were to ask for advice on improving his game, telling him to shuffle off to Buffalo or even Washington and drop a thousand dollars plus at O’Connell’s or Press would not be a reasonable expectation.

  25. Ditto on O’Connells.

  26. This add was done tongue & cheek. I thought it was fun, but yes what were they selling? I’ll still purchase the basic Sperrys. it’s become a habit over half a century.

  27. full disclosure (disclothsure?!) I am 29 (which I guess makes me a millennial; and thus somehow responsible for this ad) and I wear sperry’s, although not nearly as frequently as I did in college.

    Now, three things to share:

    1. I think what a lot of the folks posting here don’t appreciate is that Sperry crossed the prep/mass market barrier a long time ago. I now see guys and gals of every “look” rocking sperry’s. If they were once only for actually being top-side on a yacht, that day has long has passed. Which I think Sperry knows, and alludes to in the video.

    2. If you didn’t think that flaming-tennis-ball-bike polo and empty-pool tennis looked fun as hell, then you gotta take a long look in the mirror.

    3. And this one is a bit more esoteric so if you’re not here for social commentary, stop reading here: maybe the part about the above-mentioned games that appealed to my young, preppy, millennial mind is that people were playing them TOGETHER. Sperry wasn’t trying to plug themselves as another way to set yourself apart from the herd in this video, they were selling doing things with other people, albeit slightly transgressive things, but to me, that’s progress. At least it’s not another Levi’s commercial encouraging me to further myself from human contact because I’m unique.

    And now no more for lack of time.
    -Zach

  28. Zach
    Well done. Notice not one with their face in a smart phone, they’re actually doing fun stuff.

  29. As someone who bought his first pair of classic Top Siders to crew a Cat Boat on Lake Saint Claire in MI circa 1963 (and still wear Sperry’s Bill Fish), this “attempt” at motivating sales of their products is beyond stupid.

  30. @ Zach – “I think what a lot of the folks posting here don’t appreciate is that Sperry crossed the prep/mass market barrier a long time ago.” Thanks for this. The sense of betrayal and outrage in these comments is, while obviously what Christian was hoping for (clicks!), silly. Sperry left the prep fold a long time ago, along with Brooks and a host of other makers. I’m 26, and I too have seen Sperrys all over the place, on frat types to hipsters and everything in-between.

    If you want to really get outraged about something in the real prep/trad world, how about Murray’s making their Nantucket Reds in China? Or a host of other things. But I get it, it’s easier to peer over your bifocals at the millennials who have ruined “the way it used to be.”

    Some smart comments here. But those who are reacting as if Sperry has suddenly turned on a dime and starting marketing to a younger audience, and moved away from prep/Ivy/trad/whatever, are still living in the Official Preppy Handbook (who recommended Sperry nearly FORTY years ago).

  31. I have read this before but just re-read that Paul Sperry came out with the Top Sider in 1935 after watching his dogs run on ice without slipping. He examined the soles of their paws and discovered grooves which he duplicated on the Top Sider sole. In 1939 the US Navy acquired permission/rights to issue the shoes to Midshipmen at the US Naval Acedemy. The rest is history.

  32. USN ACADEMY.

  33. Old School Tie | August 18, 2018 at 5:26 am | Reply

    Ok, so I decided to look on their website after all polemical rants……and ended up ordering a load of stuff. Job done as far as their advertising agency is concerned….

  34. Show a man something he likes, and he’ll forget it.
    Show a man something he hates, and he won’t shut up about it.

  35. …and what is a man bun?

    Anatomically speaking, it is either half of a “man butt”
    Examples on this phenomenon may be seen at the
    upcoming ” Burning Man” where Topsiders may be
    the only apparel

  36. Shopping Sperry is easy. Click below and buy. Wear until they are completely worn out and repeat. Click below and buy.
    https://www.sperry.com/en/authentic-original-boat-shoe/10118M.html?dwvar_10118M_color=0195115#cgid=men-shoes-boat-shoes&start=1

  37. BrooksFather, way, way up in this thread, has it exactly right. The ad shows people identifying up, and aspiring up. It’s not about the desire to dress down or identify down: it says “wear a suit” (but don’t worry, you’re not selling out, you’re doing it your way); it says “play polo” (but don’t worry about not knowing anything about horses—you do it your way, and it’ll be great); it says “summer by the lake” (but your way) and “play tennis” (your way) and “wear these preppy shoes” (you don’t have to be an actual preppy—you do it on your terms”). I think it’s very important that the ad depicts a very race/ethnicity/gender diverse group of people. Sperry is selling a version of itself, but it wants to reach beyond the more socioeconomically elite white guy base and sell more shoes to more people—not by rejecting the preppy legacy of the company, but by making it welcoming to more people and assuring them it’s for them too, and doesn’t involve losing who they are, even as they aspire to a version of the whole prep vibe. As marketing, it’s really very good. It might even work.

  38. The populist vibe is appealing.

    Long gone are the days that Classic Ivy’s primary affiliation is with (great) wealth. Too many rich people dress like $h!t and plenty of middle’s and lower middle’s choose Ivy because they just, well, dig the style. It’s clean-cut, rooted in collegiate life, and, hopefully without sounding jingoist, very American. No wonder a certain breed of young hipster, into Ford trucks and brewed-in-America (by God!) beer, has embraced a version of Ivy.

  39. I re-watched the video a couple of times, and I still can’t tell what they’re trying to sell, if anything. I’ll bet most viewers will think it’s for some sort of hipster liquor. Plus, I get the creepy feeling the flaming ball polo will end with ambulances on the scene

  40. S.E., it’s a style rooted in American life, as it has become the American tradition style. It’s as American as apple pie. There’s nothing jingoistic about the truth.

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