The Editor’s Collection goes to the heart of Men’s File and Men’s File Archive as they ere both formed originally to act as a showcase for my own collections of cars, motorcycles, bicycles, clothing and other objects since 1979. The magazine (Men’s File) went out of control and became a commercial property and advertising and sales became paramount and we needed the help of contributors who could increase the breadth of subjects. Showing my collections being worn and used became a small part of the publication and took up just a few pages in each issue. I have now refocused and dropped many of the commercial aspects of Men’s File and gone back to the basics that drive many revivalists, collectors and re-enactors whose primary driver is style. These photographs go back as far as the early 1980s and the collections have been arranged in chapters. Today my collections consist of a few pieces as I like to own, use and pass-on. The recording of items in photographic re-enactments being part of this process.
Chapter One: CAMPUS
Campus is a collaboration with a series of highly influential subcultural stylists and contemporary brands for whom Ivy, college or campus style are part of the fabric of their existence. Represented through the tableaux vivant of Nick Clements and further illustrated with ancient and modern collectable clothing and objects. Edited by Clements, this publication will be available during 2013.
If we are talking about college style, let’s talk in an academic voice: You can blame Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx or you can turn on the entire academic tradition in literary and cultural theory that has based itself on their writings. It’s unimportant who or what is to blame, but the interpretation of the stories told through dress and style since 1945 amongst subculture members has been written in a language and with rules formulated by an academic structure bound by its own theoretical straight-jacket. The theorists in fashion and culture have to explain all things according to their rules which pay little attention to the interior world of the subculture. They believe that all social phenomena can be rationalised through precepts laid down in Marx’s ideas on economics and Freud’s on psychoanalysis. This might be a worthy preconception, but once they have a fixed story on any particular subcultural movement that fits into one of these theoretical perspectives, they tend to stick with it to the point that it becomes a mantra. Therefore, the standard story today regarding Ivy style is that it was the dress of an East Coast American elite. In a classic case of appropriation of the dress of the officer class, the oppressed of society – in this case African American bebop musicians like Miles Davies – sought to subvert the elitist meaning of the clothes and rebel through style. The story then continues that while hanging around in Soho on amphetamines and coffee, London mods then re-appropriated American college-wear in solidarity with minority music. Just to be clear from the start, the CAMPUS chapter will be not be replaying that particular broken record. The pages of this section are concerned with style and dress from the past but even more concerned about how it looks today. In this blog you get a preview of contemporary people wearing some old and some new clothing in a very modern way.
The Award Sweater on Campus
In many ways it’s the utter simplicity of campus style that makes it so appealing. An original (probably) early 1950s letter sweater, 1955 Levi’s (by LVC) and Sebago’s most comfortable Sherman loafer. The quilt is 1920s.
An Austin Healy Sprite finds its way onto campus and gives one of the seniors some extra kudos in class. Note the female student’s short-sleeve awards cardigan.
Ivy House: The Brand
I started The Curator (my own small collection of replica garments) back 2008 as a way of experimenting in the market place with the clothing I was designing as part of my MPhil at the Royal College of Art, London. I developed Velo Moto for cycling and motorcycling clothing and Ivy House for campus inspired apparel. The brand symbol was a group of three Greek letters. I printed them onto this mid-century flag as a textile design.
Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Franklin & Marshall college is based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the heart of Amish country. F&M is one of the oldest colleges in the US and was founded in 1787 with funds donated by Benjamin Franklin himself. The old part of the campus in a mixture of neo-classical and American, Georgian style buildings. A few years ago an Italian vintage enthusiast suggested he might use the archive of the college to replicate mid-century sportswear worn by the students of yesteryear. This idea grew and is now a best selling brand. I worked with Men’s File art director, Dan Black, and the F&M clothing brand to make a series of 1970s year-book inspired tableau used in their advertising over several seasons.
Ivy Covered Walls
Eric admires a Triumph 120R whilst wearing a shirt by Thom Browne and original needle-cords by Levi’s.
Josh strolls to a toga fitting in Madras shirt and chino pants by Rugby. This replication of Ivy inspired period clothing has been an exciting development for the college style enthusiast. As a photographer styling his own tableaux this has meant dressing participants has become much less stressful and expensive. Until recently most clothing in my Ivy re-enactments has been original items from my own collection.