Monday, September 07, 2009

Old Boy's Club.

On campus in Cambridge

Harvard is an educational institution that could fill every nook of a twin campus with its complex mystique. In most minds Harvard immediately summons images of giant, exclusionary, golden gates constructed of wealth, nepotism, supernatural academic abilities, and pretty faces. It is a storied, stately, scholastic enterprise that seems equal parts maniacal and magical to the uninitiated. However, to those on the other side of that golden gate, it's a school. A college that offers enough satisfying stimulation for the intellects up to the challenge. It's a network of dynamic, incredible people plucked from the tippy-top of all of their classes to come together in one space to learn even more; to gain even more knowledge, opportunity, and connections.

President Obama in his Harvard days. Maybe they should have done a line of bomber jackets based on Bam's above.

My presuppositions about the student body before I attended Harvard Law's admitted student's weekend with a brilliant, wonderful, admitted friend of mine, was what I'm sure most people assume. I was quite certain that campus would be awash in wealthy, stuck-up, snobbish people with weird social anxieties. I was sure of it. Well, you know what happens when you ass-u-me, right? While I did encounter some real assholes (let's just say I was openly scoffed at for not knowing who the Prime Minister of Canada was) most of the students I met were truly amazing, dynamic, fun people.

Looks from the Harvard Yard line. The line is menswear and shirts start at $165.

That's why I felt it was unfortunate that Harvard decided to license it's name to a brand of preppy clothing with some serious price tags (shirts starting at $165) and stuffy, staid connotations. The Harvard Yard line, as detailed in a Style article in this weekend's New York Times, seemed like bad judgment on the part of a school who's very mission in the last few years has been to broaden its appeal among students who come from more diverse backgrounds and don't necessarily summer with Muffy and Dane at the Hamptons. It seemed misguided and seriously snooty at best. I rationalized those negatives with the fact that the profits from the clothing line were going towards building funds to grant the not so wealthy-yet still gifted-among us an easier ride, as the article pointed out. I thought, "Ya know what? If the line gets neo-preppy douchebags to part with their affluence for the greater good, then by all means, go right ahead." Then, I realized one glaring, rage-inciting, factoid that I had previously overlooked: The line is for men only. No women's wear in the Harvard Yard. No preppy girl clothes, just big buck, old boy's club wear. I cry foul!

Sockless manlegs! The preppy trend that never dies!

So, not only is the line contributing to an air of exclusivity around wealth and status, it's also fueling the sexist stink that still sometimes wafts out of the crimson corridors. I don't use the word sexist much, really it's overdone and under-warranted in most cases, but for a school that found itself in boiling waters in recent years for some unseemly girl/science remarks made by former Harvard President Larry Summers, I'd think they'd be more careful not to ruffle the feathers of the feminists. A pricey menswear only line just seems like the completely wrong image for the official Harvard name.

More looks from the line that charges up to of $425 for a blazer.

I'm not trying to blow this out of the water by any means. It's a clothing line, and it's not saving or harming lives, but it's just, I don't know...tacky? Undermining? Illadvised? Gross? All of the above? Actually, I'm really just concerned that the aspiring Elle Woods' of the world have their Harvard gear too. Really, Button needs chinos and hipped-up tartans also.

Image is everything these days, and the brains behind this line must have at least considered the notion that it would have some negative implications. If not, they need to enroll for another semester, perhaps at a Community College.

Click images for source information.
Thanks to Rahul for the tip.

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