There are the familiar poets and musicians and civil rights leaders, actors like Sidney Poitier, and athletes like Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe in his Fred Perry tennis whites, but at the center are names you might not know. The “In the City” chapter is a showcase of shots that any modern photographer roaming the streets of NYC, Tokyo, Paris or any other fashion capital would kill to shoot. Young kids from the Watts neighborhood in 1965, “combining sportswear, tailoring, and customization” while standing next to a Highway Patrol officer. A random man in a white Oxford with an incredible mustard shawl collar cardigan over it, who’s got a radio in his hands and Wayfarers over his eyes. “Back then, sunglasses were used to protect the wearer both literally and metaphorically,” Jules writes, because it “showed a kind of detachment, if not disdain, for the outsider world.”
As we’re winding down, we discuss a photo of a man in a denim chore coat with a shirt and tie underneath. In the caption, Jules writes that “within the Black Ivy wardrobe,” the look “has a place of pride.” During our conversation he calls it one of the “most inspiring images” to him in the entire book. The man was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a group that went across the South holding demonstrations and signing up Black people to vote.
“At the time, they were wearing those clothes, because they were trying to navigate a relationship between themselves and sharecroppers—to relate more and to show kind of solidarity,” Jules says. “You turn up on someone’s doorstep in Mississippi saying ‘we want to help you,’ you can’t be in a three-piece Brooks Brothers suit and assume they’re going to take you as credible. These clothes weren’t just fashion things, even though it looks like one of the most amazing fashion images ever”
After putting together the book, Jules says he feels optimistic about the future of Ivy Style. “It’s quite exciting in the sense that there are so many different groups of people, and because of social media, there’s this kind of new hybridization,” he says. “People are communicating, people are getting encouraged and people are getting a sense of identity from people on the other side of the world. I think it’s really exciting, and the idea of Ivy is probably healthier now than it has been in years, because it’s actually become more democratized.”
He also sees it as a healthy step for style, overall. “For a period, everyone was talking about craftsmanship and going back to the traditional ways of making stuff and wearing non-branded clothes and all this stuff, but at a certain point, the idea of made in America, went from being this amazing celebration of craftsmanship to this kind of potentially nationalistic weird introspective thing,” he continues. “Thankfully, I think we’re moving away from that.”