The Hamptons, once a star-studded oasis for Manhattanites that simply couldn't hack the summer heat, doesn't have quite the same cachet these days. Now, in These Unprecedented Times, the Long Island retreat has become a fortress of the 1 per cent, its spacious preened lawns and pools a gilded bollard between the haves and the have nots. Even before Covid-19, house prices were dropping: The Financial Times reported a 7.9 per cent drop in single-family (second) homes in the Hamptons. And the sheer number of New Yorkers rubbing shoulders in the city's retreat make it as busy (and as unbearable) as any rush hour subway. Tl;dr: it's just not really that cool anymore.
But it was. Honest. In the Seventies, Truman Capote was often found there, presumably deep in five pages of dialogue from a frenetic call girl. And remember all those really dreamy Ralph Lauren ad campaigns of beautiful people laughing over an unnecessarily colourful breakfast? That's the Hamptons fantasy at its apex. It's a golden age you can partially revisit, too. Not with Mr Lauren, but with British-American sportswear brand Reebok.
Under the banner of a very recent line dubbed the Hotel collection, throwback sportswear in various shades of Andre Agassi is, undeniably, a trip to the Hamptons of yesteryear. It also gets you around the tricky issue of closed US borders. But for the best way to carry a weekend of tennis whites and crisp Oxford shirts and Moscato d'Asti, the Classics Hotel Grip Bag is arguably the key piece of the entire range.
It's functional, for a start. It's also on the more tasteful side of logomania. But its key strength is absolute versatility. Yes, you can carry this on-court before doing a Djokovich on an innocent bystander, and yes, this is a gym bag without the usual ugliness of activewear (please, do try tell me how cool your performance leggings look). Though pair with cooler, non-sporty clothes, and the Classic Hotel Grip will look just as good. This is sportswear that works everywhere.
The collection itself is Reebok's successful attempt at elevating the brand's usual output. Hoodies and T-shirts are plush, but casual, buttressed by laundry bags and beach towels that allude to the marque's own fictional version of Chateau Marmont splendour. This isn't a hotel decked out in blood red drapes and served by bellboys that look like extras in an ITV Agatha Christie adaptation. Rather, this is cool, laidback luxury. You don't need shoes and a shirt to dine in the restaurant. There isn't a purple banker screaming profanities over the phone at his secretary on the next sun lounger along, either.
This is a no fuss alternative; gear that, like you, knows how to chill out over a summer, one before coronavirus, before the travails and stresses of the digital age, and one before every man, woman and their dog were crowbarred onto a manicured 50 square foot Hamptons lawn.
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