This preppy patchwork classic is seeing a resurgence this summer. The story goes that on a visit to one of his company’s shirt factories in the 1970s, Ash Wall, the vice president and great-great-great-grandson of Brooks Brothers founder Henry Sand Brooks, picked up a "training shirt:" a shirt made by factory trainees using mismatched scraps of fabric. Wall reportedly tried one on and commented: "These are some fun shirts.”
Here is the picks of the best of SS20: The French brand, De Fursac, calls it, ‘La Fun Shirt’, while the American brand, Rowing Blazers, continues to reinvent preppy with their stripey number, and our homegrown Drake’s is proudly handcrafted in Somerset, UK.
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Fashion doesn’t happen in isolation. Large corporations can influence fashion and push their aesthetic through with the help of wads of cash. This, sometimes, makes the companies bigger and more money and so the cycle continues. But, a shift can often beach the whale and sportswear has thrown the preppy baby out with the bath water. Apologises.
I’ve written about the troubles with preppy before, Read more here, usually focussing on Ralph Lauren as the flag bearer, quite literally, of the look and its reluctance to change or evolve to suit the current taste in comfort and dress down.
Left - Brooks Brothers' 200th Anniversary Show at Pitti Uomo 93
That was a while ago, and with people soon to get bored of looking like a charity shop reject or a retro sportsperson, it’s inevitable that it will return.
So, we move to Florence for the 93rd edition of Pitti Uomo. Brooks Brothers is one of the chosen brands to show and they are celebrating their 200th year. Which, for any retailer, let alone an American one, is something to be very proud of.
Under the painted ceiling of the Palazzo Vecchio, a deep presidential blue curtain pulled back to reveal an orchestra playing ‘Empire State Of Mind’. So far, so good. Out came the models in various guises of preppy, yet it had been styled to mute their greatest hits. Cable knits over jackets and suit jackets tucked into trousers, it looked like a collection embarrassed to brushed with the preppy magic.
Brooks Brothers can lay claim to dressing presidents and charting the evolution of American style over the last 200 years. This should have been preppy so good that you’d bounce out of the show and be googling ‘John F Kennedy Jnr’ before you hit the cobbles of Florence’s Piazza della Signoria.
Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. This should have been a celebration of America’s 20th century power and the handsome, dashing evolution of that dressed style into preppy and the history of American fashion.
Brands like Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren need to push in order to return to fashion favour. There’s no point in sitting back and waiting for the tide to come back in on your style. Push preppy, push suiting, push people looking like they give a shit. There was was no fight here.
Preppy isn’t fully dead, it just needs to be really good. There are new American brands like Rowing Blazers, and British brand, Drake’s, is a perfect example. They manage to make preppy feel artistic, creative and beautiful. It’s the colours, the prints and the detail that makes you want to explore the fun and exaggerated side of preppy and, shock horror, put a tie on! Maybe.
Summer dressing just got a whole lot easier thanks to the pyjama shirt. Jump out of bed, put your head on and you're good to go.
American menswear brand, Brooks Brothers, knows a thing or two about seersucker. This most American of fabrics comes in the colours of the star spangled banner, this season, in contrasting stripes.
Team your shorts with a matching hat and contrasting polka dot trainers. What rhymes with Nantucket?!
Look - Brooks Brothers, Trainers - Louis Leeman
Shot by Robin Forster on OlympusPEN
Watch the full video below
This isn't the first time TheChicGeek has got on his soapbox, but never this literally before! With the forthcoming election looming, TheChicGeek is standing up for the right for men to look their best. Promoting the rights for every guy to make the best of themselves, his manifesto includes tax cuts on new men's clothes and interest free loans on Valentino accessories.
The Ginger Party needs YOU - *points finger* #VOTEGEEK
Credits – Suit – TM Lewin, Tie – Hardy Amies, Shirt – Brooks Brothers Made-To-Measure, Turnbull & Asser, Cufflinks – Hardy Amies, Socks – Pantherella, Shoes – Bertie, Watch – Mondaine from The Watch Gallery
Shot by Robin Forster with thanks to Rocket Gallery
See TheChicGeek in his 'Ginger Party' campaign office - Part 1
See TheChicGeek looking fly fly-posting - Part 2