Surfing Craze: Tradsville Flooded By Surf-Motif Tsunami


Had a great afternoon surfing Newport, first time on a board in 12 years! Well, except for one time in Newport a while back. Time for the surf-Ivy swell to rise again as it did in 2013. — CC

* * *

A swell at sea has been building and has finally crashed upon the shores of Ivy Style. Yes, there’s a surfing micro-trend going on in Tradsville.

Beyond the coinciding of their heydays, the connections between surfing and the Ivy League Look are quite incidental. The founder of used to surf, but that’s really stretching the connection. However, as we’ve remarked several times before, the 1964 movie “Ride The Wild Surf” includes a very interesting usage of the term “Mr. Ivy League” to refer to a clean-cut, handsome young man with an air of quiet superiority.

But while there’s little direct connection historically, there are a number of things going on right now in the clothing business. In mid-May we reported on the “surfing Weejun” shorts put out by Japanese brand Beams Plus and sold by Mr. Porter.

A few weeks later the Vancouver Sun ran a trend story saying how vintage surf was influencing men’s collections:

You can be sure photos of vacationing West Coast icons Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and most importantly (but perhaps lesser-known today) record producer Terry Melcher were pinned to more than a few design studio “inspiration” boards when designers were at work on this season’s clothing.

Here’s a young Melcher working his Richie Cunningham vibe:

Photo of Terry Melcher

The Vancouver Sun story came to our attention thanks to this passage:

What makes the summer men’s collections of 2013 different from any other year is the very specific sartorial moment of the key influence: 1966. This was a transitional period in men’s fashion, from the utilitarian shapes of post-Kennedy, Ivy League uniforms to the pre-dandy peacocks of the later 1960s. Think of it as Ivy League loosened up, or preppy gone wild.

As the media (including us) paddles out to catch the latest trend, you can be sure the major preppy brands all checked the same swell forecast well in advance. Tommy Hilfiger launched a “surf shack” collection this season, supported by a big marketing campaign.

Ralph Lauren, meanwhile, recently made this surf-themed shirt:


Previously there was this t-shirt…

black tee3

… not to mention this juxtaposition of surfing and polo:

surf polo

At Brooks Brothers there’s all kinds of stuff going on. These embroidered shorts with a surfer motif (apparently from a previous season), came up in an image search:


Currently, though, Brooks is offering a surf-themed tie, t-shirt and embossed belt. The surfboards in the top image were made for a photo shoot, and Brooks used surfing imagery in marketing materials for this season:

bb surfer

But it’s in the wacky imagination of the Japanese that surfing and the Ivy League Look really come together. Turns out the surfing Weejun shorts made by Beams Plus were in collaboration with Koji Toyoda, who had an exibition of his graphic designs called “The Surf Ivy” at the Beams store in Tokyo last month. Here’s his own take on what an Ivy surfboard might look like:


And here are the fins:


For those who don’t live near a surfable body of water, there are ties, wallets, paint-splattered loafers…

black tee2

… and popovers:

black tee

If you can ride a Weejun, why not a rep tie? One imagines that the surfer in this painting has torn off the symbol of 9-5 drudgery and embarked on a surfin’ safari:

rep tie surf

Today is July 1st, meaning that, as much as we may wish it were endless, the first month of summer is already gone. Make hay — or catch a wave — while the sun shines. — c C m

27 Comments on "Surfing Craze: Tradsville Flooded By Surf-Motif Tsunami"

  1. fred astaire | July 1, 2013 at 11:41 am |

    Never confuse trendiness for style.

  2. Curmudgeon | July 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm |

    Jazz, tennis, golf, surfing….
    Where can I find a blog that only deals with Ivy style?

  3. Christian | July 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

    Right here:

    You’d be missing out on Richard Press’ column, however, as well as other things of possible interest:

  4. I love your posts.

    Lot of us out there we need to have a new perspective.

    Thank you for giving me an opportunity to see new idea, new concepts and some fun.

  5. Love this post Christian. A lot of me lives in an endless summer state-of-mind and these pics just help to fuel the woody…….as it were.

  6. Everyone knows that Ivy League and surfing go together like PB&J. (why can’t they just stick with a good boating theme?)

  7. Boris Nofziger | July 1, 2013 at 1:58 pm |

    Gross. Brooks Brothers takes another step toward being the Target Stores of button down shirts and rep ties.

    How about we just give up and print a bunch of baggy Brooks Brothers sweatshirts with a giant logo, and start handing them out on the wrong side of town? Perhaps the I-55/Cicero off-ramp by Chicago Midway, where they sell socks and bottled water. That’d be a great and totally hip place for Brooks to continue to derelicte their own balls.

    Slow. Train. Wreck. Can’t. Stop. Watching.

  8. Bricktop Polford | July 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm |

    It’s 7/1 not 4/1, right? Just checking.

  9. I know that I would rather be surfing than be sitting at my desk right now, trad or not.

  10. Reactionary | July 1, 2013 at 3:04 pm |

    Surfing and frats. How low we have sunk!

  11. Didn’t you post the pic of robert august and mike hynson dressed up in suits to fly to africa in the endless summer not too long ago? I think that looking at California/surf fashions from the mid 60’s as a counterpoint to the ivy league look could be very interesting. A lot of why I’m even interested in ivy is because of old photos of surfers from that era. That said, i’m definitely not a fan of any of the clothes pictured above.

  12. Roy R. Platt | July 1, 2013 at 11:26 pm |

    “New York’s a lonely town when you’re the only surfer boy…….”

  13. Everything I know about surfing, I learned from Gidget.

  14. Christian | July 2, 2013 at 8:38 am |

    I like to sing the theme song at the piano:

    I like the line:

    The rest of the shipment
    Standard equipment

  15. Jay Adams | July 2, 2013 at 11:28 am |

    Christian, growing up where you grew I guess surfing was the natural choice.

    Did you also skate?

  16. Christian | July 2, 2013 at 11:34 am |

    Had a skateboard in high school. Didn’t take up surfing until my thirties.

  17. Orgastic Future | July 3, 2013 at 12:10 am |

    Good post Christian! Surfing is an awesome and addicting sport to take up! I just surfed Waikiki on Oahu for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Also picked up an awesome longboard (skateboard) while out there.

  18. Skateboards and Ivy style?
    What’s next? Flipflops?

  19. Yes. Preppy flip-flops are in bright shades like green and pink, while trad flip-flops have navy or white footbeds with rep stripe thongs. I hear Richard likes both kinds, but will only pose with trad ones with thongs that match his watch strap and belt.

    Look for the website soon.

  20. Oh lord, why did I leave Japan…

  21. Mr. Wyllys | July 6, 2013 at 6:11 pm |

    “flip flops” send shivers down my spine…

  22. whiskeydent | May 30, 2020 at 10:12 pm |

    I predict that Rowing Blazers will soon release surfing blazers. You saw it here first. And prolly last. Hang ten!

  23. All it is, really, is that surfing is “cool” and that merchandising, nearly always and everywhere since the “conquest of cool”, is based on the promise of coolness.

  24. Californian | June 4, 2020 at 3:55 pm |

    Pendleton had a sub label around this time as well called Pendleton Surf which consisted mostly of madras shirts from what I can tell (I am currently wearing one.)

  25. I hope to paddle out again sometime. I haven’t surfed in a …..decade?

Comments are closed.