#WhaleFail

When I was coming home from Charlottesville last weekend, I came across something on Twitter that made me smile…and then laugh…a lot…

Some of you probably know what I’m talking about since I decided to take to Twitter last night instead of studying for my Microeconomics Theory mid-term that I (likely) failed earlier this morning.  But, in case you don’t, let me bring you up to speed: Vineyard Vines decided to add “Saltwash Twill Cargo Shorts” to their line of #preppiness that made me wonder, “Did Shep & Ian miss their designer’s preview for Summer ’15?”

After thinking about this for a minute or two, I experienced one of those “Groundhog Day” moments to something that happened before I was even born.  Everyone knows Abercrombie & Fitch, right?  Right.  The #preppy community (myself included at times) likes to poke fun at the brand for their overpriced clothes, weird cuts, and uncomfortable club-like atmosphere.  So not #preppy…

But Abercrombie & Fitch use to be REALLY conservative/preppy/formal/whatever the hell you want to call it.  Almost like that of Brooks Brothers (*gasp*) when it was initially founded.  In fact, my Dad has things from Abercrombie that are actually really nice (some of which I have – admittedly – stolen).  But as time went on and the years progressed with new trends coming to the market, the brand eventually turned into what it is now today appealing to the hip, cool, young teen (i.e. everything I’m not) with clothes that were overpriced and poorly made.  In short, they traded quality and durability for popularity with a quick buck.

Which raises an interesting thought: is Vineyard Vines the next Abercrombie & Fitch?  Highly unlikely, but they share a similar story: Great in the beginning, not so great now….

Whether it’s cargo shorts or some #preppy OCBD, VV quality has gone down about as quick as an anchor hits the floor of the ocean.  I guess it’s nice to look at (who doesn’t love some pastel pants or one of those oh-so-common fun shirts), but after a couple of washes that $125 shirt you bought two months ago isn’t exactly holding up as the seam come apart and the buttons falls off.

Now I admit it’s been a year or two since I stepped into a VV store and I could be totally out of line (wouldn’t be the first time), but if I had the chance to buy a Brooks non-iron or a VV dress shirt, I’d take the first…and then eat at Chipotle for the rest of the week because of all the leftover cash I have.  Why?  Because that shirt is going to hold up a lot longer than some VV piece made from oxford cotton that feels something like a dish towel.

I respect Vineyard Vines.  I really do.  It’s a multi million dollar company that started out in a Jeep.  But preppy isn’t pastels, high price tags, or a bunch of anchors and whales emblazoned on a pair of shorts.  It’s about clothes that last not years, but decades.  Pieces that you can wear no matter how crazy the trends get.  And an underlying theme of buying clothing that’s practical, purposeful, and appropriate for everyday needs.

Vineyard Vines isn’t going anywhere, but before you shell out an arm and a leg for a shirt, ask yourself: “Is this something I’ll be able to wear 10 – even 20 – years from now?”  If the answer is, “No,” you might want to rethink the purchase of that shirt (or pair of cargo shorts) with the little pink whale…

Share your thoughts on VV below and read The Preppy Manifesto if you need an excuse to not pay attention to whatever you’re supposed to be doing.

-Dean