I’ve got a fairly small foot…you know what they say. And I’ve sold very nice shoes from time to time on eBay…trust me…I’ve given tons of loot to Goodwill but when I realized that people would pay you a hundred bucks for your shoes…geez…how do you think I finance the Belgians over here? Where do you think my size 8D used Aldens and other trad things end up? You got it. Japan. God help you if you are selling an 11.5D Alden cordovan whatever ‘cause you ain’t gonna fan the flames of a Nippon bidding war like I cultivate. Fifty bucks to ship them over there and all’s well. Our Japanese friends are crazy for our Trad goods…vintage, used, repurposed whatever.
I lived in Montclair New Jersey in the late 1980’s and used to run through the stately neighborhoods that included Upper Mountain Avenue. It’s a stunning area populated with elegant old homes…probably owned by Ivy Leaguers. But I used to run through these neighborhoods with my Japanese buddy A. Y.. It was like running through an Ivy League campus. I picture A.Y. as the type of guy who in 1965 would have devoured Take Ivy cover to cover. He owned the sushi restaurant on Valley Road and we would drink our faces off in his place at least twice a week. He’d close-up and head out with us.We’d end up at one of our posse’s digs and drink till daylight. He’d bring the good sake. And he was obsessed with Trad clothes. More shit walked out of my closet after I hit sake-REM than I’ll ever be able to prove. But I’d see some of my shirts and shit the next week, on A.Y., as he greeted and seated us.
So Take Ivy needs to be reviewed through the lens of its original intent. The annotated picture book seems to have had a singular purpose. To feed the Trad crazy boys back home a nice little visual buffet of the animal itself…round eyed white boys captured in situ…hurrying about to and fro…on the Mother Church grounds of Trad-prepdom…the campus. The Take Ivy collaborators were on a mission. To crack the code for their peers back home. The liner notes are superficial at best and what’s lost in translation makes for a chuckle or two. Here’s an example. The picture above enjoys this caption… “1968 …the year printed on his chest signifies his graduation year. A simple calculation tells us he is a freshman. He is wearing a crew neck top in green, his school color.” Stop it.
Off-white is not quite white. But let’s be fair. It’s 1965 and there is no internet, no Life Image Archives, no Google Pictures, no Roetzel book or Flusser books. And Ralph Lauren, well he’s still aggravating the shit out of Cliff Grod over at Paul Stuart and sending Norman Hilton and his cutters in New Jersey over the edge. Had he sold his Morgan by then?
“Elbow Patches…A student is wearing a cotton twill jacket with a rubber twill collar, rubber cuffs as well as leather elbow patches. Quite the stylish dresser.” Patches I’m depending on you son….
The point is this…I’m sure when this book hit the stores in Japan, the target market went gaga. It was ’65 and they probably had nothing else of the sort; written in their language, assembled by their peers who offered impressions of The United States of Trad and more specifically, the Confederacy better known as the Ivy League. I mean where else are you going to get ground level Princeton intelligence like .... “Passenger Wanted…this is a bulletin board where students exchange information using a piece of paper. You can find messages like, “Passenger Wanted” and “A Guitar for Sale.” This was written for a people who had never seen their Emporer. It's all good.
“Madras Checks…In an effort to differentiate him from the masses, this student wears patchwork madras Bermuda shorts.” You ole intriguing outlier being different kinda rebel you. But that’s where the intrigue with this piccolo tome ends. It is an artifact and a lean one at that. I can appreciate Trad fetishization. Hell I’m the guy who went spastic when O’Connells offered all of the new old stock bleeding madras stuff. I’m one of that particular club.
I did enjoy reading the segment on trad clothing stores. Assuming that they knew of J. Press and The Brethren before they hit the States, I'm not surprised at their reaction after stumbling upon The Andover Shop. Frazier was in there, vetting Miles' fabric selections. Here's the lore you'll learn, only in Take Ivy... "A Shop With A Modern Twist...This unusually modern looking boutique appeared out of nowhere, among an array of classical-looking men's boutiques."
Abe Vigoda. Yale '37.
But what fanned the base interest in this little ditty over here in the States isn’t complex. And it damn sure wasn't grounded in thirst for sartorial erudition and gabardine depth. Until now, it was rarer than hardcover Apparel Arts magazines from the 1930’s. Trust me when I tell you that if I hadn’t seen a copy of it, most people hadn’t. So scarcity breeds covetous behaviors. We all had to see what this thing was all about. Well I’ve seen it and it took me all of eleven minutes to hit the “been there—done that” button on the ADG—ADD monitor. The photo of Tintin above, is worth fifteen bucks. Hook center vent-hungover as a mother ____. Drunk socks and the same shorts he wore on the bus back down to New Jersey from Smith. He'd been up there with my old girlfriend Roxanne Burgess. He puked three times on the bus ride home.
Here’s the good news…at fifteen bucks courtesy of Amazon.com, why not nick a copy for your sartorial library. Original hardcover Apparel Arts magazines from the 1930’s are worth every penny of the three hundred to four hundred dollars they command. Take Ivy is worth every penny of the fifteen dollars you’ll pay for it. And not a penny more.
Onward. Not disappointed, not surprised. Certainly amused but not impressed.
A.-trad-D.-fuzzy-G., the second, actually.