Preppiness has enjoyed something of a second coming. That we know. For menswear is currently graced with rugby shirts and slacks and boat shoes and big glasses and the perma-argyles of Tyler, the Creator. All good things. But that doesn't mean there'll be a second going. This stuff is here to stay. And, rather than solidifying under the fluoro sportswear-inflections of Aimé Leon Dore – that's the prep 2.0 we all seem to be talking about – it's growing, evolving with each passing season. So you've had classic prep. And, yes, new prep. Now: meet 'art prep'.
Brought to you by Gant's latest collab with artist-cum-designer Luke Edward Hall, the American-Swedish founding father of country club style has found itself in dreamier, painterly waters. There are sweatshirts emblazoned with watercolour flowers; oversized paisley shirts that are floaty as opposed to baggy; totes patched up with illustrations of donkeys and the Roman busts of antiquity. It's all very Wes Anderson: Fast Times at the Slade School of Fine Art – and that's precisely the point.
Part-inspired by the English countryside, and part taken straight from the sun-drenched cottages of Hall's primary-hued mind, it's the art student life through rose-tinted specs. There's something undeniably Seventies about it all, but softer, and geekier (levelled in the best possible way).
"Gant has always been colourful, and a lot of the basics Luke went for has it’s roots in good ol’ American Sportswear, so it wasn't that tricky at all to meld the two," says Gant's creative director, Christopher Bastin. "Luke also used to wear some of the Gant Rugger pieces I did back in the day, so I had a pretty good reading on him from the get go, so to speak."
What's more, mixing a new shade of prep was always the assignment, says Bastin. "Preppy is a lot more interesting than most people give it credit for. One tends to think of it as a rather set style, but it has always evolved. From the rather conformist Ivy Style in the Fifties, to the Eighties with its neon infused pastels and wide shoulders, preppy has always remained relevant in some shape or form. It’s about moving on, letting go of 'this is prep, this is not' and to keep messing around with it."
Which is how a good preppy art student would approach the Old Ways. So pick up the brush, old sport – let's paint the university town red (and pink, and yellow, and green).
Gant x Luke Edward Hall is available at gant.co.uk, prices starting at £115
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