It’s been about eight months since I first saw the above photo of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig wearing Yankees sweaters on Kiyoshi’s blog, but I don’t think there’s been a week that’s gone by that I haven’t come back to it. The photo has become one of my favorite fall points of reference, but it’s also been quite a curiosity, leaving me to wonder where exactly those sweaters come. At first I suspected they were just something that the players might have ordered for themselves to wear on off days. But then a couple weeks back while watching a football game, the idea came to me that maybe the sweaters were some sort of warm up gear for the players, akin to the windbreakers and nylon jackets that we see today. With this in mind, I began searching and that one photo of Ruth and Gehrig quickly lead to others. Images of players sitting on the bench wearing cream colored cardigans covered in logos, team photos with all the players wearing identical navy sweaters, teams taking the field in matching shawl collar sweaters.
Since sometime around the seventies or eighties, the conversation on “the best of” American menswear always seems to include the same, undoubtedly deserving, but all too familiar cast of characters. Ralph Lauren, Jacobi Press, Henry Sands Brooks, Cliff Grodd, Ralph Ostrove, these are the names that pop up time and time again, riding an infinite echo that drowns out any mention of other possibile contenders. While these men were (and still are) responsible for the guiding the ever-changing look of American sportswear and it’s modern white-meets-blue collared audience, they still do only make up a fraction of the story on continental menswear over the past century or so. The rest of the tale is full of designers and figures, most of whom have fizzled out over the years, or never really made a mainstream mark, but there is one man in particular that certainly deserves consideration as one of the greats: Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia.
There was a time not long ago that if you asked me how I felt about New Balance I probably would’ve scoffed and said something snarky about how well they compliment boot-cut jeans and banker bros. And yet, as the adage goes “fashion is cyclical,” or as I like to say, eventually you’ll learn to love what you once shunned. My relationship with the sneakers began in my latter high school years, during which I practically lived in a pair of grey New Balance 574’s. But as I got older and outgrew my lax-bro sensibilities, those shoes suddenly became a symbol of everything that I wanted to leave behind.