We love a good interview us, especially when it involves clued up people going off on one about ace clothes, so check out the exchange of words Johnny Ridley from cool collegiate clobbersmiths ‘Harry Stedman’ had with one of our favourite shops; the Great Divide.
1. Ivy League style has gone under a renaissance in recent years. A three roll two sack coat is as recognisable as ever. Stedman seems to file into this renaissance quite neatly – how does the brand see itself in the jigsaw of Americana that exists today?
We’re busying ourselves with those initial steps into the menswear landscape and by no means would be attest to having secured a place within it, be that under the guise as an Ivy brand, Americana brand or otherwise. Our wares to date have been produced as our interpretation of wardrobe classics, primarily derived for the 40s and 50s where Ivy was truly born. They arrive as a statement of intent as to what we’re capable of and the style we collectively admire, but we’re not limited to Ivy alone. They’re foundation pieces, aimed to be accessible to many, however we do plan to tell a much bigger story as we approach the upcoming seasons. We’ll be delving into Harry’s working attire, military garments and more, broadening the kinds of product we offer consumers. When we have a handful of seasons under our belt Harry’s story will be clearer, with a definitive life path illustrated by our efforts. Once our early seasons have came to fruition commentators and consumers alike can properly judge whether we fit within that coveted Americana bracket, by season three the Ivy label may have fell by the wayside…only time will tell. In short, we don’t particularly mind how we’re labelled just as long as our efforts our recognised and the garment quality is celebrated as we hope it would be.
2. Is there a uniquely British perspective to Ivy? Does distance make the heart grow fonder? It seems that there’s a fair few people doing a distinctly British take on American posh boys – John Simon being the best example.
I think Brits do Ivy in a slightly more conservative fashion to our counterparts across the pond or indeed in Asia; the British gent may not subscribe to an aggressive collegiate look..bow ties and the inherent frills of the classic style aren’t really embraced here. After all Brits aren’t necessarily known for their peacock qualities, are they? The Ivy fan in the UK is all about top quality, superb cuts and wares with long term appeal…at least in my opinion.
3. Who is Harry Stedman? Is he a character or a real person – or is he both?
Harry Stedman is a real person, the father of Phil Stedman the MD of the brand. The brand has been created to communicate Harry’s colourful life experiences by way of men’s fashion, telling his story through considerate design, fabric choices and great construction. Harry left Liverpool as a young man in the 1950s, travelling to New York and from there around the world, benefiting from a wealth of culture as he hopped country to country. Those experiences are directly filtered into our menswear storybook – Harry Stedman – one about a real, flawed human being that we hope in time men can connect with and support. He was and still is a truly loveable rogue and we can’t wait to get his story out there.
4. What music plays in the Harry Stedman office?
I can’t really vouch for others tastes, but this afternoon I’m listening to High Violet by The National.
5. Talk us through the bits and bobs that we have at The Great Divide
Our 50s shirts are classically styled button downs made from premium oxford cloth – supima cotton from the US, woven in Japan – and are crafted in Garland, North Carolina by the same factory that produces for Brooks Brothers and several other esteemed menswear brands. The cloth has a great handle and will last for a long, long time… just what you need at the centre of your wardrobe. Another U.S made piece we’re rather proud of is the classic tee, made from heavyweight cotton by the good folks of ColumbiaKnit in Portland, Oregon. Our tee has been designed with a snug, ribbed collar and longer sleeves to nod toward that classic 50s look. This solid all-rounder can work with all kinds of looks. The snug collar gives a great shape to the neck and shoulders, we’re really proud of how this one turned out. The cotton has a great workhorse quality to it, much like the 50s button down you’ll have this one for years. One of our other favourites, the Drizzler jacket is made from a specially treated cotton; the showerproof fabric begins its life as a stiff works-like material to later become wholly more supple. This wears over time and in a denim-like fashion it will fade and gain character with wear.