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Ivy

Tradaholics

As the weather forecast finally starts to look up, I leave you this week with a photo I hope you’ve all seen already. Taken at Yale in 1965, this is in my opinion the only photo worth looking at for the next few months, thanks to the fellow second from left. White chinos, sock-less loafers, three-roll-two navy blazer, chalk white buttons, OCBD, club masters, hair like YSL at 21, unflappable attitude. This is what I’d consider to be the perfect spring look, so go forth and dress better than everyone else.

Oh, and here’s a close-up for good measure.

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It opens with a Princeton crested navy blazer, closes with a duffle coat and in between The Talented Mr. Ripley traverses between the Ivy League world of New York City, the cobblestone steps of Italian cities, and concludes with a nod to the English countryside.  As the diabolical Tom Ripley (played by Matt Damon) arrives in Italy from New York to bring Dickie Greenleaf (played by Jude Law) back to the city and his father’s shipbuilding empire, he is clothed in pleated trousers, a black knit tie, and what appears to be a Brooks Brothers button-down, which would’ve been standard issue for any “Princeton man” of 1955.  I won’t spoil the story by detailing Tom’s exploits as a con artist, although Damon’s performance as one of the most finest liars to ever grace the silver screen is worth the price of admission alone.  But it’s the costumes, running the spectrum from trad to Neapolitan to Anglo that wrap the entire film in a blend of hopsack, cord, wool, and cashmere which covers all the character’s ruthless deeds and personality flaws, making them seem all the more sinister from behind those fine threads.

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VRS

This past summer, during an exceptionably slow day at work, my friend (and former co-worker) Matt spontaneously summed up the entire current menswear wave with one word: “Italiatrad.” While Matt’s impromptu portmanteau was all we needed to kill a day discussing the marriage of Neapolitan and Ivy, after that day I’d practically forgotten about the word altogether, although I’m pretty sure Matt’s been searching for a “real” definition of the word ever since.  This past week though, I found Italiatrad back at the forefront of my mind, as I sat there reading the announcement that Antonio Ciongoli was leaving his role as deputy creative director of Michael Bastian to spearhead the creative direction of Isaia’s resurrected diffusion brand, Eidos.

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A couple weeks back, as I was digging through the Bengal Stripe’s archives (which while unfortunately retired, is still as relevant and well-written as ever) I found this piece by Nico about graduating school and moving away from the “scholarly look.”  Nico’s lament about moving forward into the working world spurred a realization that for me the opposite has been true.

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This year at (capsule) things just came out a bit dull for me.  Despite these past couple years where it feelss like we’re cycling through trends at breakneck speed, menswear is still a painstakingly slow industry, and while there were a lot of brands that I like and wear at the show, there weren’t many new discoveries for me.  Out of everything that I saw, the only brand that’s still stuck on my mind these weeks later is Journal Standard, a Japanese brand that has built up a large following abroad but hasn’t really broken into the U.S. market yet.  In fact, Journal Standard is so new to the western world that finding any real info on the brand (without the aide of Google Translate that is) proved to be next to impossible.

In the states it’s carried by Bodega in Boston and Unionmade out in San Francisco, although I couldn’t tell if they are still actively stocking the brand, or if it was just a one season deal.  From one source I read that the brand’s been around for over a decade, while another said that it had only been around since 2008.  I’m not sure which is true, but considering Journal Standard’s thirty-four stores across Japan, Hong-Kong, and Paris, I’d venture to guess they’ve been dominating abroad for years now, with their push into the U.S. market only being a recent phenomena.

While their backstory is jumbled, Journal Standard’s structure is very typical of Japanese retail.  The brand’s layout is reminiscent of United Arrows, with separate brands and stores that stock their own lines as well as third-parties, and cover everything from higher end clothes to housewares.  As for their menswear assets, there’s Journal Standard, J.S. Homestead, Journal Standard Trisect, and Journal Standard Relume.  Now I’ll admit, in contrast to United Arrows, I don’t really sense a strong distinction between any of these brands.  They’re all clearly inspired by the Japanese interpretation of American workwear, with a much more comfortable, relaxed feel to all their pieces.  Throughout the line’s there’s lots of variations of blues, neutral colors, collared knits, and unstructured jackets.

I suppose if I had to break it if up, I would say Journal Standard is a casual blend of trad and heritage with touches of bold pattens such as floral and camo.  J.S. Homestead is the closest to true workwear, think more chore jackets and denim.  Trisect features classics such as slimmer knits, ties, blazers, khakis and button ups, for a line that’s more directly inspired by Ivy than workwear.  And finally Relume is unisex basics, which reminds me of a more heritage Uniqlo.  Although with Journal Standard, focusing on the minutiae that distinguish the lines ignores the brands greatest asset, their individual pieces.  Journal Standard is never stronger than when it’s looked at piece by piece, because throughout the brand they use some of finest Japanese textiles and patterns, which creates that washed texture that’s become so desirable as of late.  The clothes are comfortable and warm in a way that has nothing to do with temperature, and with brands such as R by 45 RPM, Kapital, and even Visvim already having a strong impact on the American menswear landscape, I see no reason why Journal Standard shouldn’t be next in line.

Journal Standard

J.S. Homestead

Journal Standard Trisect

Journal Standard Relume

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