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“We at GQ have found endless inspiration in these pages, and designers have too." GQ
“Time has done little to dim the allure of “Take Ivy,” with its guileless snapshots of handsome, fit and presumably bright young lugs disporting themselves in dining halls, on the College Green at Dartmouth, along Nassau Street in Princeton and in Harvard Yard.” New York Times
“A fun addition to your shelf of sailing manuals and Kennedy biographies.” Daily Candy
This book came in through Amazon Prime just this morning, and it's everything that style blogs have hyped it up to be. It was first popularized by M. Williams of A Continuous Lean, and when he scanned photos from his original 1965 edition, the books were going on eBay for as high as $500. At $14, it's a steal.
A small hardcover with glossy pages, the volume clocks in at around half an inch. Underneath the dust jacket is a gorgeous orange cloth-covered book embossed with seals of the eight Ivy League institutions. The preface introduces the modern edition (in English, of course) and references the original Japanese volume. In an effort to maintain authenticity, "The translation of the original text for this English-language edition has not been edited for the purpose of updating or revising facts, names, or other matters." (This note seems irrelevant until we get to discussions about student body size and other time-sensitive statistics.)
The book's pictures are of young men in varying degrees of prep -- lots of anoraks, varsity jackets, boat shoes, khakis, polos, slim ties, plaid shorts, etc. (There are maybe four women in the entire book.) Almost all of them are trim in physique and their clothing trim in cut. Given our society's Mad Men obsession and fashion's general return to 'Americana,' the book's reemergence is a reflection of cultural zeitgeist.
The one flaw is the captions, which seem to over-explain. For instance, we have on p. 68, "A student is taking a stroll on a rainy campus wearing a sweatshirt which, of course, is in the school color. Ivy Leaguers are known for displaying their loyalty and pride in their alma mater on a daily basis." These words are accompanied by a picture of a young man walking in the rain while wearing a Brown sweatshirt.Read more ›
I run the menswear blog Off the Cuff ([...]) and have been following this reprinting of Take Ivy since it was first announced.
I notice that a couple of the reviews here commented negatively on the quality of the book's images, so let me clarify a very important point. powerHouse Books didn't simply reprint Take Ivy, they recreated Take Ivy. As they explained to me, apart from the English translation, it a replica of the 1965 edition right down to the paper, binding, flip jacket, and image quality.
The images are not as crisp and clear as we would expect today because they are from the 1965 book - the exact images that you would see in a vintage copy. Would I like to have seen shots from the original negatives, if they are even available? I suppose so; but the goal if this book was to bring fans the original Take Ivy in every way possible.
So, in a nutshell, what you are getting with this book is the most exacting reproduction possible, translated into English, of one of the most famous time capsules of American East Coast preppy.
I only came to know about this book from a recent article in the New York Times. Being a fashion deseigner who dies for nostalgia, I bought the book, not knowing exactly what to expect, and I liked it ... a lot. Before writing my review, I went through all 10 reviews already filed. Almost all the negative remarks are correct ... but out of context (see later why). Let me go through the main ones: 1. Photo quality: As one reviewer said, the present book is a recreation of the original. This means the publisher deliberately left everything as the original, except the language (English translation of the Japanese). So ... how could we expect 2010 quality for photos taken in 1965????? 2. Captions: These were the reactions of 4 Japanese men who were being introduced to a culture (and fashion) entierly different from their's. One remark (page 132) tells all, and I quote: "As a Japanese man, I struggle to conceive of "campus wear" or 'college fashion.' ... we Japanese have been put under the spell of having to wear school uniform ...", end of quote!!! 3. Old, bringing nothings new: who said anything about new things? It is a reacreation of a book published in 1965, about Ivy fasion, of 1965!!!!!!!!!!! I think the mistake is that the publisher did not explain clearly enough to the reader that everything in the origianl 1965 edition was kept as is (except the language), and therefor the quality of photos, context of captions, etc. should be seen under this light. Having said this I would like to comment on the content of the ORIGINAL photos, captions, etc.: 1. As one reviewer commented, the book does not represent equally the 8 universities, for unexplained reasons. 2. The photographer seems a bit lazy!!!Read more ›
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It would be difficult for any book to live up to the extravagant praise the second coming of "Take Ivy" received on some of the styleblogs I read. Long available only in the rare and expensive Japanese original or in samizdat copies, the English-language release of "Take Ivy" some 45 years after it was first published was to be a milestone in menswear journalism ... even a touchstone for a new generation.
So I have to admit a bit of disappointment that I wasn't entirely blown away by "Take Ivy." The photos are interesting, if often a bit grainy, but certainly illustrative of the "Ivy League" style of dress in 1965. I particularly enjoyed the text, written as it was by a Japanese author for a Japanese audience eager to know more about the trendy Ivy style. "As a Japanese man," he writes at one point, "I struggle to conceive of `campus wear' or `college fashion.' It is because we Japanese have been put under the spell of having to wear school uniforms. Japanese students are confined to wearing a stand-up collar jacket, day in and day out for many years. Having come from such a background, even scratching the surface of the general campus wear and college fashion is, undeniably, a daunting task" (p. 122).
Undeniably. If there isn't much earth-shattering about "Take Ivy," it is still a useful reference to its particular time and place, and an entertaining time capsule for those of us who prefer a classic approach to men's style. A commenter on one of the styleblogs I mentioned above pointed out that nowhere in these photos is anyone wearing either Sperry Top Siders or LL Bean's Maine Hunting Boots, the supposed be-all and end-all of prep style.Read more ›
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