New York, the city of a thousand subcultures. Known for birthing and reinventing movements and style in a way only the citizens of New York can. With grit, personality, attitude, fun, and positivity. One such movement that's been through the cultural tumble dryer of the city is prep. What makes the New York interpretation so unique compared to other reinterpretations of the look is that the city has spawned a multitude of iterations, all scene, and subculture dependent. Whether it's the colorful, more maritime vibes of the Lo-Lifes, the adoption of straight leg slacks and varsity jackets with breakers, the billowing button-down collar Oxfords of the skaters, or the preppy pastels of the hip-hop backpackers, each iteration has put its stamp on the look that's contributed to its evolution today. Even New York mainstays like Supreme, Aimé Leon Dore, and Noah have put their modern spins on the look that has aided its popularity today.
While the root of Prep is perceived to be in Ivy League schools and the elite families that one is born into by privilege, New York's variation of prep is about your chosen family. Your crew, collective, or group where inclusivity, not exclusivity is at the core. For the second part of Tommy Hilfiger's exploration of 'New Prep' in celebration of its SS22 collection, we explored the streets of New York to find the contemporary collectives challenging conventions and spearheading the prep resurgence once again.
First up is the Double Dutch crew, Stan's Pepper Steppers, consisting of Javon Langston, Latecia Armand, and MaKayla Bracey. Their preppy fits help them to stand out from their competitors, a uniform if you will, that gives them the edge and solidifies their unity. Double Dutching was born in NYC and is a pastime full of creativity, rhythm, and style, something Stan's Pepper Stepper's prep fits exudes. Tommy Hilfiger, to them, is not a brand associated with prep but found its way into their outfits through its popularity in their youth as a brand seen on many an MTV star.
Next up we visited Rugged Road vintage store owners Tai Unuma and Bumpei Noritake, whose collection boasts a myriad of iconic Americana and prep pieces. Their curated store in Brooklyn mirrors New York's style and taste, a delectable buffet of vintage tailoring and sportswear, the backbone of the New York city look in 2022.
Lastly, we caught up with several of New York's up-and-coming Ballroom scene dancers, Luke Gezelle, Yumi Shimizu, Jazz Washington, and Maximo Oliveira. The Ballroom scene, born out of New York prides itself on its community spirit, expression, the art of movement, and its varied and influential style, which has had an irrevocable positive influence on fashion and culture for decades. In the past, the buttoned-up properness of prep movements was not a style associated with the scene but in recent years, as prep has evolved to fit into any look, these dancers have taken to its adaptability and fun. "It feels almost like a blend of many different styles. Very much like how America is a cultural melting pot. So too is new prep, in a sense, taking a little bit of prep and mixing it with a little bit of urban, mixing it with a little bit of something else." says Oliveira.
Tommy's new collection reflects this attitude. The brand's history is defined by its subversive take on the traditionally known prep look. Tommy Hilfiger started his career in New York and was clearly inspired by the melting pot of culture and style he saw before his eyes. This would of no doubt inspired the designer who played his part in helping to reinvent prep as a look for everyone beyond the elite schools and country clubs. You could say this collection is the pinnacle of this evolution, a blend of sportswear, prep, traditional tailoring, bold cuts, and colors. A collection to be mixed with vintage, worn in double dutch comps or at ballroom events.
Prep is ours now, so wherever you come from, whoever you congregate with, take it wherever you want.
You can check out Tommy Hilfiger's new SS22 collection here.