Trend Bite: Take 2 Ivy

The recent economic and political uncertainty that’s currently gripping our world has left consumers feeling anxious about the future, so it is only natural at times like this that we are drawn to tried and trusted familiarity and built-to-last basics. Progressing from previous seasons of ’80s nostalgia, we see iconic ’70s styling and core ’50s silhouettes emerging on the runway with abundance. These throwback trends, however, shun heritage reproductions in favour of a modern vision of the past. Taking the best parts of each era like preppy styles from the ’50s, chunky styling from the ’70s and true All-American denim from the ’80s, the new season offers a fresher, more sophisticated take on vintage style that allows the consumer to opt out of the hype and opt into quality-made goods. Post Ivy is a casualwear movement, rooted in true American heritage style, driven by retro revivals of Ralph Lauren, LL Bean, Tommy Hilfiger and other key American brands.

We all know “preppy” style when we see it; cardigans, polo shirts, chinos and rugby stripes. On one hand, the look can be playful and sporty, on the other, stuffy and staid. However, a number of emerging young brands are taking ownership of this classic casualwear style and diverting it away from the strict rules and dress codes of the country club. According to fashion historian and Parsons School of Design instructor, Sara Idacavage, “The way that the fashion industry has co-opted traditional preppy style is all about subversion.” For example, as iconic as Ralph Lauren is on the proverbial polo fields, hip hop culture’s love of Polo Ralph Lauren in the ’80s and ’90s is just as iconic and historic. Prep is so often revisited in the design room because of the many ways it can be interpreted. 

“The basic factors that determine relevance and longevity of a trend are connected to the innate human desires to be comfortable as well as a way to express ourselves through customization. Prep style fulfills both of those purposes,” Idacavage says.  

This smartened-up attitude has been on the rise for the past few years with labels including Gucci, Prada and Marni putting items such as corduroy suits and rugby shirts alongside more directional items in their collections. Industry heavyweights such as Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton and Kim Jones at Dior have been introducing a younger generation to tailoring, and, in turn, sartorial style is on the up. E. Tautz, Celine, Isabel Marant, Etro and even Guess are hoping on the prep train this year in their new SS21 collections all presenting this classic style with their own modern twists. Whilst the original leaders of preppy style, such as Tommy Hilfiger and J.Crew are still relevant today, a slew of younger brands such as Noah, Thames and Ganni are at the forefront of a trend championing a more-youthful interpretation of the American aesthetic: think Palace Skateboards does off-duty Princess Diana. 

This look has been embodied by fits from influencers like Blondie McCoy and Tyler the Creator; two style leaders who have been flexing their own ironic take on Ivy League looks that sit somewhere between preppy skater and louche grandpa. This new “handsome” style is not so much about paying homage to the “good old days” of prep and the privilege it once represented, but more a subtle form of rebellion against today’s ever-churning trend cycle. As Tyler the Creator has famously said “I don’t like fashion, I like design.” Consumers are turning to these timeless smartened-up styles, opting for more meaningful, quality purchases over fast fashion throwaway trends. Mixing and matching new pieces with vintage finds creates a timeless, thoughtful wardrobe that borrows from the past, without pigeonholing the consumer into a specific scene or decade, to create a modern, smart and sustainable look. Looking back at the last financial crisis of 2008, this season’s iteration offers more rebellion, subversion and playfulness to the narrative of “built to last” than ever before.

Kingpins’ Trend Bites are created by Denim Dudes to give you a small taste of the full denim trend report they have prepared for the season. Interested in purchasing the full report? Visit Kingpins Trend page.

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