Culture

ABC'S OF IVY LEAGUE STYLE

28 July 2022

Celebrating the upcoming release of the END. x adidas Forum “Varsity” pack, we take a trip through the ABC’s of Ivy League and varsity style to shine a light on the cultural and aesthetic phenomenon.

END.'S ABC'S OF IVY LEAGUE STYLE
Synonymous with mid-20th Century American fashion, Ivy League and varsity style rose to prominence at the turn of the century, originating in the country’s North-eastern region’s elite college communities throughout the ‘20s and ‘30s, transforming contemporary menswear aesthetics with its distinctive combination of high and low styles.

Infusing a preppy attitude with a touch of rebellious spirit, Ivy League aesthetics were seemingly at odds – borrowing sportswear influences and pairing them with formal footwear, sport coats and oxford shirts to build a new language of dressing that eschewed the restraint of menswear norms at the time. Depicting a look that championed cross-pollination, Ivy League style enraptured the nation’s youth and filled campuses with an exciting new creative way of dressing that actively challenged the previous generation’s penchant for formal suiting and stuffy attire. While Ivy League style swept the nation, the post-war era saw American clothing imports become curiously commonplace in Japan. Quickly connecting with the youth culture at the time, Ivy League style saw a meteoric rise throughout Tokyo and beyond, as a second wave of Ivy League aesthetics far removed from the campuses of Harvard or Princeton came to the fore. In the modern day, while classic Ivy League style in North America has been diluted into the norms of every day fashion, Japanese fashion fanatics continue to fly the flag of the style and subculture, exhibiting their passion for a combination of vintage and contemporary pieces that build on the heritage of the aesthetic and pay homage to its origins.

Celebrating the upcoming release of the END. x adidas Forum “Varsity” pack, we delve into the world of Ivy League style to examine the history and impact of the garments that are most synonymous with the iconic aesthetic mode.

END.'S ABC'S OF IVY LEAGUE STYLE
END.'S ABC'S OF IVY LEAGUE STYLE

A IS FOR ARGYLE

Derived from the traditional Scottish tartan of the Clan Campbell of Argyll, the Argyle pattern is a staple of Ivy League style with its intercrossing diagonal lines, diamonds and colourful details. Originally dating back to the 17th Century, Argyle’s regal nature saw the pattern filter into contemporary fashion mores when Pringle of Scotland renewed the design at the turn of the 20th Century, before ultimately crossing the pond and infiltrating the Ivy League.

B IS FOR BROGUE

A historical style that has been adopted into the modern canon of formal and casual footwear, the Brogue shoe was not always the Ivy League icon it is today. Originally designed as a working shoe, with holes across the shoe’s upper to drain any water when the wearer traversed wet or marshy bogs, a far cry from its impact in the contemporary arena.

C IS FOR COLLEGIATE

A classic signifier of Ivy League status, Collegiate print was the perfect way to deliver support for your school, whether you attended Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, or any of the other five North-eastern American universities. With a curved, block-like font, Collegiate print has permeated throughout modern culture, continuing to elucidate the influence and importance of Ivy League style on contemporary fashion trends.

END.'S ABC'S OF IVY LEAGUE STYLE
END.'S ABC'S OF IVY LEAGUE STYLE

D IS FOR DOCKSIDERS

The humble docksider, or boat shoe, is a classic footwear style synonymous with Ivy League students – a symbol of prestige, academic excellence and wealth. A shoe designed for navigating the treacherous deck of a yacht, the docksider found favour amongst Ivy League attendees for its symbolic nature – an emblem of excellence and potential.

F IS FOR FLAT-FRONT KHAKIS

While not the most exciting or innovative garment, the Flat-Front Khaki played an important role in the formation of Ivy League style. A simple khaki pant, the flat-fronted design offered a twist on the more formal pleated iteration, distilling classic white-collar American style into a more casual aesthetic.

END.'S ABC'S OF IVY LEAGUE STYLE
END.'S ABC'S OF IVY LEAGUE STYLE

L – Loafers

Central to Ivy League style is the Loafer shoe – a true icon of an era, also known as the “penny loafer”, because students at Ivy League colleges in the 1930s would store two cents within the slip-on shoe’s supportive strap in case they needed to make an emergency call. One of the most iconic and storied pieces from Ivy League’s far-reaching style, the shoe can be traced back to Norwegian fisherman in the early 20th Century, before ultimately making the jump across the pond, with G.H. Bass creating the Bass Weejuns – a style that remains popular to this day.

M - Madras Check

Colourful and vibrant, the Madras check offered the perfect opportunity to introduce a kaleidoscope of colour to the Ivy League palette. A pattern with a storied history, Madras check was first created around the 12th Century in India, before being exported globally by the British in the mid-17th Century. Soft and breathable, Madras check fabric was traditional made on a handloom from soft fibres from the “tip-skin” of native trees – one of the earliest examples of truly sustainable fabric production.

END.'S ABC'S OF IVY LEAGUE STYLE
END.'S ABC'S OF IVY LEAGUE STYLE

O IS FOR OXFORD SHIRTS

A sartorial staple, the Oxford shirt is the perfect workhorse of the Ivy League wardrobe. Cut from a type of cloth known as a basket weave that was originally made in Scotland, Oxford shirts continue to sit as a central piece of the Varsity puzzle – perfect for dressing up or down.

P IS FOR POLO SHIRTS

An essential for all those indebted to preppy aesthetics, the simple Polo shirt is a cornerstone of Ivy League style. Once worn to excess, doubled, or tripled up with the collars popped, the polo shirt remains a pillar of the aesthetic as a result of its versatile nature and casual outlook.

R IS FOR RALPH LAUREN

You can’t think of Ivy League without thinking of Ralph Lauren. Founder of the legendary brand, Polo Ralph Lauren, the designer has had an undeniable influence on all-American style throughout the years. The purveyors of all things preppy, Polo Ralph Lauren’s status within the fashion world is far-reaching, but they certainly have left their stamp on Ivy League style.

END.'S ABC'S OF IVY LEAGUE STYLE
END.'S ABC'S OF IVY LEAGUE STYLE

S IS FOR SPORT COAT

The perfect option for a formal occasion but with a casual inflection, the Sport Coat is a staple of the more highbrow Ivy Leaguer. Often seen in a check pattern, this outerwear piece is a symbol of stylistic maturity an exhibition in class.

W IS FOR WINDBREAKER

Designed for performance but co-opted for aesthetics, the Windbreaker saw Ivy League fans pluck sporting garments from brands such as Ralph Lauren, Nautica and Gant for casual wear. Perfect for keeping the wind and rain at bay, these lightweight jackets were ideal for the variable weather conditions in the Northeast of the United States.

V IS FOR VARSITY JACKET

An emblematic garment that underpins Ivy League style, the Varsity jacket is the perfect embodiment of the aesthetic and the culture. Designed to show support for each school’s sports teams, the classic combination of wool body and leather sleeves, embellished with chenille lettering, serves as a key piece of Ivy League history.

THE END. X ADIDAS FORUM "VARSITY" PACK LAUNCHES ONLINE VIA END. LAUNCHES ON 30TH JULY.
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