Last night I attended the launch of Jack Carlson’s book Rowing Blazers at Ralph Lauren’s Bond Street store.
I met Jack a while ago at a dinner with Fred Castleberry. The two had been working on a project, documenting the wonderful and dazzling history of traditional rowing blazers and were traveling around the country photographing blazers from various college and university clubs.
That was almost 2 years ago, and from the quick look through the book that I’ve managed so far (a proper review to come soon) I was impressed by the breadth of the coverage, with clubs and blazers featured not just from the UK but from the world over. The photography is beautiful and book has been very well produced.
The evening was a celebration of rowing, and guests (many rowers), were encouraged to wear their club blazers with pride. As you can see from the photos below, there was every combination of colours, stripes and binding you could imagine on a blazer.
I look forward to learning more about the history of rowing blazers, which will make my next trip to the Henley Regatta that much more enjoyable.
The book is published by Thames & Hudson on the 7th July 2014 here in the UK and can be ordered at: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/jack+carlson/f-+e-+castleberry/adrian+krajewski/rowing+blazers/10712647/
It will be published in the US in September but can be pre-ordered at: http://www.rowingblazers.com/pre-order/
If you’ve read Preposity before then by now you’ll be familiar with the Tweed Run. It’s become something of a cult event, so much so that this year places on the ride sold out in a mere 90 seconds. For the uninitiated the Tweed Run can best be described as a group bicycle ride through the streets of london with riders all wearing traditional tweed attire.
But to describe it in such plain terms is to underplay the experience of being part of one of the friendliest, most cheerful and well-mannered groups you’ll come across on the streets of London.
The sunny weather was the perfect backdrop to our day riding through the City. After meeting at Somerset House for a group photo we set off through the City, stopping for a leisurely tea break at Guidlhall before continuing past as many London landmarks as you’d care to mention; Tower bridge, the Tate Modern, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Savile Row. At every point passersby and tourists stopped and pointed, took photos and videos of this moving timewarp. It’s not just the vintage bikes (including a few penny farthings which stick out a good few feet above all the other riders) or the traditional tweed clothing to which the public react so positively, it’s that once you’re on your bike, dressed in tweed and amongst a few hundred other riders, you just can’t help slip into character and act that little bit more gentlemanly. Calls of “tally ho” and “good day” are common as are doffing your cap to anyone waving from the pavement. White van men lean out the window and snap photos with their phones, drivers stuck in traffic honk in solidarity, the positivity is infectious.
We eventually made our way to Russell Square for a well earned lunch break complete with picnic hampers, a phonograph dj and croquet. A short ride onward took us to Clerkenwell for a champagne reception and chance to rest our legs.
I first joined the Tweed Run in 2011 and I can’t recommend it enough. It has been well summed up by others as “possibly the most British thing ever” with which I concur. I’m already looking forward to the next one.
I have often puzzled at the use of the world ‘alternative’ in regards to culture. It is often used to refer to a subculture or genre such as ‘alternative rock’ or ‘alternative clothing’. But to what is it really an alternative? There is surely always more than one mainstream culture. One could argue that there have always been multiple strands of fashion that has made up a so-called mainstream. Fashion and trends often arise once new ideas or re-imaginings of existing ideas enter a public consciousness, and often involve a competitive one-upmanship that actually requires those at the forefront to stand out.
Since the birth of the teenager in the post-war period, young people have formed social groups based on any number of factors, often cultural. Along with these shared interests, fashion has often been a method by which social groups choose to signal allegiance.
Josh Sims’s new book 100 Ideas That Changed Street Style (Laurence King Publishing) takes a close look at some of the fashions and cultural groups that have endured over the past 70 years. From the mods and rockers of the 60s to the outlandish japanese kids of the Harajuku district of Tokyo. I was stuck by how many older street styles and youth cultures are now part of the mainstream. On a given day you may see someone walking down the street sporting two items that once may have been symbols of opposing sub-cultures. What I find interesting is that every generation feels ownership of ‘their style’ even if it has borrowed heavily from past fashions.
One thing has changed in the last 20 years though: the internet has started to connect social groups from disparate geographic locations. Where once a street style may have started in a specific district of a city and spread slowly via photos and print media, today people from all around the world can share their style instantly and accelerate, even amplify, the cultural impact of their fashion. So with such a huge variety now available, do we have an extremely varied range of sub-cultures? Or a splintered mainstream?
Large, commercial fashion houses often look to street-style and niche cultures for inspiration. I feel that now more than ever, mainstream and street style are influencing each other.
To borrow from Chris Anderson’s book, we are seeing a ‘Long Tail’ effect thanks to the internet, where we may have a few core mainstream fashions at any given time, but below that there are just as many smaller niches that have just as many followers.
100 Ideas That Changed Street Style is worth reading not just for the sections that are most relevant to Preposity (there are sections on Preppy, Blue Note, Vintage and Heritage Reproduction) but to understand how and why youth culture has impacted the mainstream and to that end, your own wardrobe.
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