Craft to America,
Style to Britain
The Influence of the Ivy League on the
Northamptonshire Footwear Industry
British manufacturing excels at the level where craftsmanship and human diligence continue to imbue the products with the character of the makers. On a visit to the Sanders factory we were able to record the great variety of skills and processes necessary to create each pair of shoes.
Investment in the future was clearly evident with skills being passed from those with a life-time’s experience to those acquiring the craftsmanship the industry requires in order to continue to renew itself.
It was an honour meet the staff and to see the shoes we love clicked, closed, lasted, soled and finished.
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MORE ABOUT STYLE TO BRITAIN
It was Sunday 13 September and we had a great day creating this photo-shoot. We wanted to show-case the Northampton-made shoes in any Ivy style context. Given that the first home of this exhibition is the University of Northampton and Ivy style’s origins are educational, the entrances to the Maidwell and Newton Buildings made perfect backdrops. More images were shot at the Abington Park Museum. We were certainly very lucky with the weather.
Ivy style naturally intertwines with England in many ways. The architecture of the Ivy League colleges would not seem out of place here and so the settings felt authentic. Accompanying clothes were a mixture of authentic American vintage, British vintage and modern crafted British products.
Great thanks to John Smedley, Pantherella socks, Tusting bags and Dawson Denim as well as the footwear makers Sanders & Sanders, Cheaney and Tricker’s. Tom and I noted how much better our own clothes looked on taller, slimmer younger people.
For a couple of years, we had discussed the link between British footwear and the heritage of Ivy League inspired clothing. Initially, we thought that it would make an interesting angle for taking a fresh look at the resurgence of the Northamptonshire industry and there was little doubt that a considerable portion of the local makers’ inventories included styles which originated in the US.
Exploring different aspects the Ivy story; its elitist origins, its adoption by Hollywood and modern Jazz and how the style was exported to Britain and the World, we started to identify incredibly strong stylistic links and how the preservation of the county’s craft skills have continued to reinforce this relationship.
Credits and Thanks
The success of the exhibition owes much to the generosity of those who contributed photographic material, permissioned re-publications, gave expert advice, made introductions, lent us shoes and garments for the show or the photo-shoots, worked for discount, mates rates and nothing.
Not in any order or specifically referencing each’s invaluable contribution these people, businesses and institutions include; Graham Marsh, John Rushton, Rebecca Tuite, John Simons, Powerhouse Books, Reel Art Press, Rizzoli Publications, Conde Nast, Steve Millinton, Cheaney, Tricker’s. Church’s, Sanders & Sanders, Barkers, Edward Green, Loake, Grenson, John Smedley, Dawson Denim, Pantherella, Tusting Bags, Artisan Signs, TDC, The Kobal Collection, Vasser College, Wellesley College, Alex Hubenov, Blajez Worek, Luke Glover, Adam Mann , John Saunders, Natasha Eaton, VAN Club VIP Room and Tadayuki Tsuji, Suzanne Stenning, Jayne Bingham, Yvonne Thompson, Robin van Driel, Gary Corbin, Christian Chensvold, Lee Vincent Grubb, Victoria Pugh, Jade Lindo, Sami Raouf, Bradley Stainton, Ali Elangasinghe, Jocks & Nerds Magazine, Abington Park Museum and their staff.
If we have missed anyone, just let us know and we’ll add you in!
Special thanks go to the British Footwear Association for their financial support, the University of Northampton for hosting the exhibition and the students who gave their time to invigilate the space.
A film we shot of the wonderful Graham Marsh and John Rushton discussing the Ivy Invasion and how they were inspired to take up and promote the style.
SEE THE FILM
Described by The New York Times as, “a treasure of fashion insiders,” Take Ivy was originally published in Japan in 1965, setting off an explosion of American-influenced “Ivy Style” fashion among students in the trendy Ginza shopping district of Tokyo. The product of four sartorial style enthusiasts, Take Ivy is a collection of candid photographs shot on the campuses of America’s elite universities. The series focuses on men and their clothes, perfectly encapsulating the unique academic fashion of the era. Whether lounging in the quad, studying in the library, riding bikes, in class, or at the boathouse, the subjects of Take Ivy are impeccably and distinctively dressed in the collegiate style that dominated America.
Take Ivy is now considered a definitive document of this particular style, and rare original copies are highly sought after by “trad” devotees worldwide.
Powerhouse Books have kindly given us permission to celebrate 50 years of this classic book and to whom we are very grateful for the images we have been able to reproduce here.
The Seven Sisters colleges and their relation to the Ivy League are mentioned within the first paragraph of the first chapter of Take Ivy. Before the coeducational era, the students of the elite colleges of Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Hollyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vasser and Wellesly developed their own sartorial culture.
49 years after the publication of Take Ivy, Rebecca Tuite has crafted a beautifully complete book which demonstrates how these colleges blended both socially and stylistically with the Ivy League and how confident understatement within ladies casualwear went on to influence American and global fashion trends.
It is reputed that Miles Davis first walked into the Andover store, close to Harvard University sometime around 1954. Such stores were intended for the out-fitting of the Ivy League students and to maintain their loyalty throughout their Wall Street and Madison Avenue careers.
At a time when much of the US was still racially segregated, this adoption of the Ivy style by the jazz musicians of the day gave the look a radical projection. Indeed many followers of the style in the UK drew their influence from jazz, often unaware of the elitist origins of the look.
This selection of Blue Note album covers all appear in books the books; The Cover Art of Blue Note Records by Graham Marsh and Glyn Callingham and The Ivy Look by Graham Marsh and J P Gaul.