Vampire Weekend are back and it’s good news for everyone. Firstly, it heralds the return of their warbling Ivy League pop, something the world has clearly been staggering on without for way too long now. And secondly, it means all your clothes from 2007 will be back in fashion. What do you mean you threw out that San Miguel-branded trilby you got free at Benicassim? And the red Wayfarers that came with it? Come on mate...
Chino shorts, polo shirts, Harrington jackets, Converse, nice haircuts, cider and Fender Telecasters: they’re all coming back baby. How do I know for sure? Well as prescient as the arrival of Ezra Koenig and co. is, the whole preppy, pastel-frat, my-dad-employs-your-dad aesthetic has been regenerating for a while. But this time it’s all grown up. Unsurprisingly, New York is the crucible: look at Adsum or Belief in Brooklyn, OnlyNY on the Lower East Side, Aimé Leon Dore in Soho and Noah on Mulberry Street, one of the best addresses for men’s clothes in the western world.
They all do different things – Belief is ostensibly a skate brand, while ALD is skewed more toward classic sportswear, for example – but there’s plenty of crossover. Lots of really good Jersey pieces and tees and quilted jackets and baseball caps and coach jackets and sturdy denim. And the colour palette is rich and cheery and all-American, like a triangle of pool balls. Like the colours of an early Spielberg movie. And it’s textural, too. There’s denim and ripstop and wool and quilted nylon and shearling and seersucker and flannel. For reference, search the word ‘Paninaro’. It’s a trend that derived from a group of Italian kids that frequented a specific Milanese sandwich shop in the early Eighties. They wore denim with bright puffa jackets and track tops and boat shoes and loafers. Very collegiate, very cool. This whole vibe must have some roots in that.
I wrote about this ‘New Prep’ (as I called it at the time) back in the June 2018 issue of Esquire, referencing Frank Ocean and David Hockney and the Beach Boys and Tyler the Creator and The Royal Tenenbaums, among others. But the brands mentioned above (especially Noah, which seems to have an inexhaustible spring of ways to seem cooler and more unconcerned with mainstream fashion every week) have taken it on further still in the way they borrow traditions and style their collections.
ALD sells Italian-made chunky fisherman sweaters and suggests you wear them over a hoody. And they style their double-breasted mustard corduroy suit with a green fleece zip-down. Noah sells argyle sweater vests and bright pink Shetland cardigans and flannel shirts and rugby shirts and bobble hats and tartan belts and schoolboy scarfs. It’s all a bit British. A bit Brideshead Revisited. Benjamin Phillips of Drake’s recently told me that they see guys in their New York store carrying Noah bags, so clearly there’s an appreciation for slouchy British tailoring, fine fabrics and eccentric sprezzatura styling.
Both brands have also collaborated on a boat shoe respectively, and this leads me on to the thrust of this week’s ramble (we got there in the end, thanks for sticking it out). I’ve just taken receipt of my first pair of boat shoes in a decade, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve always had a soft spot for the style. The ease of it, the simplicity, the way it makes you look like you might be landed gentry, which was important in the South West in 2004 when the only way to get with girls was to wear Jack Wills and pretend you were a day boy at somewhere with a fives court. But those connotations are obviously why I haven’t worn them since. In fact, I’ve done my utmost to avoid clothes that might label me a hoo-ray Henners, but as luck would have it, some of the coolest brands in New York have decided that they’re now de rigueur. It’s win-win.
Noah joined forces with Sperry on low-profile tan number that seems to have sold out almost instantly, but you can get something very similar on the Sperry website now anyway. And ALD worked with Timberland on a black mock-toe boot, which is essentially just a high top version of the latter Three Eye Classic (which is actually well worth your attention, too). Mine are black, from GH Bass, but if you want something bolder go to Sebago, which is about to release a collection of chunky ‘Campsides’ in totally cool Pacific Northwest-style colours with chunky stitching and chunkier soles. Even Prada has got in on the action.
The daddy of the moccasin, however, is Yuketen. Founded in 1989, the company hand-makes every shoe in Maine, USA, and bestows each of them with the ‘independent spirit of living wearable art’. Totally. The Ghillie Moc with Mini Lug Sole is especially mega, but everything they make is beautiful, really.
So that’s how you’re going to be dressing this Spring. You’ve got loads of time to pull everything together (enough for a shoes-cruise to New York, maybe), and now that boaties have been given the green light, you can build from the ground up. Sorry, from the deck up.
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