'X' Marks The Eight Ivy League Universities

“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.”"
- Winston Churchill (Speech at Harvard 6th September,1943)

Wearing natural shouldered sack suits, Harris tweed and seersucker jackets, button-down oxford cloth shirts, khakis and Alden loafers was the dress code that more or less quaranteed the offspring of prominent East Coast families to an Ivy League education at places like, Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

Legend has it and there’s no reason to doubt it that the term ‘Ivy League’ first appeared in the Christian Science Monitor in 1935. The Monitor, as it was known was a newspaper founded in 1908 in Massachusetts. The reference was to the formation of the sports league that dates back to 1876 when four universities met to decide on rules for the imerging game of college football. Today, the Ivy League has come to symbolize academic excellence more than athletic ability. Ivy League colleges pride themselves on accepting the best, and they stand to be selective. A record 42,742 students applied to be part of Harvards class of 2022.

The East Coast of America during the 1950s and 60s was without doubt the spiritual home of the Ivy Look. It was all about taking care of business, looking sharp within a pareddown, confident, modern America. From Barnet Newman’s minimalist field of colour ‘zip’ paintings to Frank Lloyd Wright’s beautiful Guggenheim museum and Eero Saarinen’s design for the TWA terminal at Idlewild airport, New York, the culture, like the Ivy Look clothing exuded modernity.

What was once a sign of prestige, status and old money among wealthy college students, the Ivy Look has now become a democratic, stylish and comfortable way of dressing, worn by Presidents and hipsters alike worldwide.

The impact and influence of the Ivy Look can be seen to this day in the Vintage Ivy collections that Kamakura so carefully produce.

Besides the eight Ivy League colleges mentioned here there are many other “Ivy Plus” schools like Stanford, Berkeley and Amherst to name just a few but Harvard, Yale and Princeton remain the most elite and prestigious in the Ivy League.

The impact and influence of the Ivy Look can be seen to this day in the Vintage Ivy collections that Kamakura so carefully produce.


Written and illustrated by Graham Marsh
Illustrations: Copyright Graham Marsh

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About Graham Marsh

Graham Marsh is an art director, illustrator and writer. He has written and art directed many ground-breaking visual books including The Cover Art of Blue Note Records, volumes 1 and 2, East Coasting and California Cool. He has co-authored and art directed Denim: From Cowboys to Catwalks and a series of books with Tony Nourm and on movie posters. More recent books are The Ivy Look, Hollywood and the Ivy Look, Jazz Festival, The Beat Scene, French New Wave: A Revolution in Design and a 50th Anniversary volume on Woodstock plus a book on the early years of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. He is author and illustrator of a children’s book called Max and the Lost Note. Marsh’s illustrations have appeared in magazines, newspapers and on many CD and album covers. He has contributed to numerous publications including Country Life and Financial Times.