The Trad Explains The Trouble With Men’s Magazines
S: What do you think the prospects are of these things being recovered at this point?
T: It’s going to be interesting to see what happens in the early fall, when Take Ivy gets reissued. Jeffrey Banks has a book coming out on preppy, which will be interesting given his time with Ralph Lauren. There’s a bunch of books coming out about conservative menswear. I hate the word “preppy;” let’s say “Ivy.”
S: Yeah, we still don’t really have a better term.
T: I think one of my abbreviations was “North American Goy,” or N.A.G. But I’m paying particular attention to what’s going on…Google is scanning books left and right, but I don’t see them scanning M Magazines…I think one of the best sources for that stuff is old yearbooks. They’re cheap, they’re plentiful, and there are fascinating stories in them — especially some of the smaller schools. The Princeton yearbooks from the 30s? I bought those in the 80s. It’s terrible to look at the 30s and see this sophistication, and then in the 40s, I don’t know what happened — maybe the war — but suddenly things got really bad…it seems to me that there was this incredibly vulgar period, but then the mid-50′s/late-50′s/early-60′s came around and there was a renaissance. Oddly, in the mid-80s that happened again. Certainly there was a vulgar period in the 70s.
Now you’ve seen an interest in this stuff between 2005 and 2010. There seems to be an interest in this stuff that comes around, and it always seems to be connected to a bad economic time. The 30s were a bad time, the early 80s were, now’s a bad economic time. I’m not a superstitious guy, but I think the time is right for these books. I think the time is right to learn about what it’s like to be erudite and sophisticated — to learn these things for yourself.
S: When Take Ivy comes out…what do you think will actually happen, and what’s your best-case scenario for what it might do for menswear?
T: What I don’t want to happen is see a bunch of people hop on the bandwagon, only to see it dropped. What I do want is for a small group of people to discover it and fall in love with it, and to broaden the community. Designers and people in retail — most of them have lost their passion for this business, if any of them had it to begin with. A lot of them have no love of the cloth at all…I keep telling people that clothing should be invisible. It shouldn’t be in your face. The people who are interested in it, they notice the quality of it. I love this guy’s site, Magnificent Bastard, but he’s got this thing, this major hair up his ass about linen. He’s like, “It just wrinkles!” And I say, “Dude! It’s supposed to wrinkle!” It’s why you don’t put polyester in suits. You can just see in these old magazines, the chemical industry jamming this down everyone’s throat. “Rayon! It doesn’t wrinkle! It’s cheap! You smell bad when you wear it!”
But yeah, I got off topic again. I really hope that there’s a genuine interest in this stuff, and that it’s not a fad, it’s not just fashion. This stuff shouldn’t be visible, because it’s like a club. You just notice. Somebody on Ask Andy pointed out that he can go into his closet blind and get dressed — that’s the whole point of Ivy. You can’t do that in the Brioni store. There’s no effort to this Ivy stuff — it’s never going to go out of fashion, it’ll be around forever. It’s simple, and the beauty is in its simplicity.
S: Do you think it’s possible that we’ll have a nightmare scenario where, say, hook vents and tweed start showing up at H&M?
T: I’ve said this before, but we need the hipsters to be in on this stuff. I can’t support J. Press. I don’t want them to go out of business, and this is the crowd that will keep them in business. If they’re smart about it, which J. Press isn’t, they’ll start doing things like coming up with an entry-level line of clothing. Why isn’t Brooks Brothers doing Brooksgate? This is a perfect time for that! I would love to go into Brooks Brothers and sit down with them. But I know the business mentality. They’re not going to want to take the chance, and it’s too bad…Jay Kos pointed this out to me the other day — what the hell is up with this “co-branding?” Red Wing and J. Crew? If you want a Red Wing boot, go to Red Wing and get your boot.
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