02 January 2009

The More Things Change....

As many of you already know, our friend Tin Tin, author of "The Trad", recently acquired a copy of the much discussed and sought after Japanese tome Take Ivy. In his great kindness he has done us the public service of scanning the entire book. Thank You, Tin Tin, not only for providing us with this wonderful resource, but for helping to cool the hype about it.

Anyway, in my own perusal of the photos I saw a couple of shots taken in Harvard Square, and since I live nearby I thought it might be fun to recreate them.
The Andover Shop in the 1960'sThe Andover Shop last week.
(Note: It was a little dreary the day I took this photo. On a sunny day they still have the narrow awnings which cover the upper half of the windows, just like in the old photo. The window displays are very much the same. However, they no longer have a poster advertising a Phil Ochs concert in the window.)J.Press in the 1960's
J.Press last week.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, no?

There's no denying that J.Press and Andover Shop are vanguards of the Ivy League style, stalwart outfitters who helped invent a way of dressing and continue to stick by it, while somehow managing not to appear dated or downright silly. Unlike the venerable Brooks Brothers, these two saw neither the need for excessive global brand expansion nor the "fashionization" that it seems to have necessitated. One wonders if things might be different had Brooks opened up shop next door to Harvard instead of on Boston's more posh Newbury Street.

I get the impression on looking at these photos that Press and Andover may have had ( or maybe still do) a kind of 'coke-or-pepsi' relationship at one time. It's evident in the buildings themselves.

J.Press is to my mind the more conservative of the two, and it rightly resides in a building that looks as thought it should bear a plaque that says "George Washington slept here". Very old, very Cambridge. Serious and W.A.S.P.-y.

Andover Shop is the place where Miles Davis shopped. The building is an architectural anomaly, a Danish style modernist cube of concrete and glass nestled on narrow old Holyoke Street among old wooden buildings dating back some 200 years. It looks like the kind of place where people listen to jazz and smoke weed after closing time.

Two very different places offering different takes on the same theme. Each place carved out a unique identity long ago and had the fortitude to stick with it, in all their argyle-socked, patchwork-tweed glory. The true testament to what these places mean is the very fact that don't seem 'quaint' in the least. But I'm a fan of this stuff, so maybe I'm a bit biased.

To J.Press and the Andover Shop! I hope one day to purchase from you directly. In the meantime, may your customers continue to donate their castoffs to charity, so that your products can find their way to the likes of my grubby hands.


Old School said...

Fascinating stuff.
Thanks for the photos and details.

Anonymous said...

Th graffiti on the side of the Andover Shop shows that you're not immune to urban trash :-(

Charles said...

Great post. I have some close friends that moved up there about 5 years ago. I need to get up there.

Anonymous said...

And those shops, along with the profusion of fabled post-secondary institutions are what make Boston the preppiest city on the east coast. Maybe the preppiest city in America?

ms. mindless said...

even when you can afford to shop directly, you can't completely give up thrifting! it is such a thrill to make the great finds that you do.

Kim said...

First thing I noticed was the tag on the side of the building...aahh, city life.

I love the J.Press building. Looks just like the Theta house at Nebraska.