On Tuesday Jon Caramanica of the New York Times wrote a piece on J. Press’ York Street store. Here’s our play-by-play.
Caramanica starts by suggesting that the Ivy/prep revival of the past several years “became not just a look, but a form of commentary.”
On what he doesn’t say. Next, orthodox trads who can’t stand the playskool colors of prepdom will be puzzled by the suggestion that recent preppy clothes haven’t been vibrant enough:
Yet too often the clothes that came from this movement lacked the radical chic of real-life prep fashion — none of the vibrant, lightning-bright color choices; none of the eyebrow-raising patterns; none of the insouciance of a wearer who directly correlates income level with risk-taking. Prep never apologized. Just ask all the less-privileged people underfoot.
As a New York reporter, Caramanica evidently has his dial set to the irony frequency and expects a loud and clear signal wherever he goes, which is certainly understandable:
The wink, such as there is one, begins in the front window, where a human mannequin had a neon-tube tie and a dog mannequin had neon-tube glasses. Watch out, rebellion within — right?
Whimsy! Subversion! Downtown! The 1980s! These references could undo prep, or invigorate it with a sense of the now. But the Ovadia boys, Ariel and Shimon, put more care into their own line than into this one, which shrugs more than it winks.
York Street items, he finds, “scan as underwhelming knockoffs, not brand extensions.” No argument from most of you on that, I suspect.
I found this line funny, though more in a tragi-comic sense:
.. the designers were still figuring out the line’s fit, a salesclerk told me
The story’s final takeaway is this:
Make Ivy This is the long tail of the prep revival, a faint outline of the original thing. The store aspires to recall an old Ivy League clubhouse, but feels like a facsimile you could make at home with a 3D printer.
Fake Ivy The clothes are reasonably priced, by J. Press standards, and they’re more muted than you would expect.
Take Ivy When J. Press leans on staples, it succeeds: any younger customer interested in the brand isn’t craving a watered-down version of it, maybe just a slimmer-fitting one.
And my final remark? Booklynites like York Street’s designers might do irony, but the Japanese don’t. — CC