Is it 1980, with “The Official Preppy Handbook” atop the best-seller list? Or perhaps it’s eight years later, with Ralph Lauren running epic 18-page narrative ad campaigns in Architectural Digest?
No? Then perhaps the space-time continuum is at 2004, when this time Ralph Lauren introduces Rugby, putting an irreverent twist on preppy classics for a new generation of college kids. Or maybe it’s 2010, when Lisa Birnbach releases her sequel, “True Prep.”
Alas, according to the calendar it’s the first week of 2016, and the only way you’d know it from the New York Observer’s lengthy article on the so-called return of prep is that the story is pegged on Vineyard Vines, who are benighted with the head-scratching headline, “Preppy Style Has Gone Mainstream, Thanks To Vineyard Vines.”
Now no one denies the company’s success, nor its spreading of the khaki-and-bright-colors gospel. At the opening party for its Upper East Side store about a year ago, I asked the company’s PR guy about the secret to the brand’s success, confessing that I couldn’t figure it out. The guy said that consumer love the whimsical sperm whale, which helped make prep style — however watered-down from the backwash of its own blowhole — approachable to the landlocked masses.
But hasn’t RL been doing mainstreaming prep in department stores and outlet malls for 30 years?
The article ends with the following:
Catcher In The Rye’s Holden Caulfield may have been the original rebel prepster, but he would shudder at the thought of a needlepoint belt purchased online, or a pair of workout shorts that weren’t his tennis whites, or a cap that didn’t commemorate his win in the 12-Metre Regatta. Thanks to Vineyard Vines, the preppy landscape has changed for good.
Head over here for the full headscratcher. Just don’t get dandruff on your Shaggy. — CC