Craft to America, Style to Britain
The influence of the Ivy League on the Northamptonshire footwear industry
4-25 November 2015

If you find yourself in central Northampton in the next month, head to the University for a fascinating exhibition on the Ivy League – specifically how it has influenced the output of the British footwear industry. Opening its doors today, curated by Tim Walker and Tom Shaw it traces the twentieth-century style that grew up within the elite universities of the United States – a style that has become a powerful denominator for both casual and business wardrobes the world over.

The Ivy League style was the predecessor to what we now refer to as ‘preppy style’. Epitomized by the sack suit which is defined as being a 3-to-2 (3 buttons with the top button “rolled” back to reveal only two usable buttons) blazer without darts and a single “hooked” vent. The trousers are typically cuffed and without pleats. It was also characterized by the use of natural fabrics, shirts with button-down collars, and penny loafers. The style was promoted by clothiers J.Press and Brooks Brothers and included natural shoulder single-breasted suit jackets. In 1957 and 1958, about 70% of all suits sold were in the “Ivy League”style.

The exhibition, supported by the British Footwear Association, charts the style from its elitist beginnings, through to its influence on Hollywood and its radical transformation via the jazz musicians of 50s and 60s America.

Craft to America – Style to Britain: The Influence of the Ivy League on the Northamptonshire Footwear Industry will be on display at:

The University of Northampton Avenue Gallery, Maidwell Building, St George’s Avenue, Northampton NN2 6JD.

Entrance: free

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