And so farewell, The Ivy Shop

Back in 1966 it was the only place to buy Wing Tips, loafers and Sta-prest trousers. Spencer Campbell mourns the passing of a bastion of street style
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Thirty years ago, on those Saturday afternoons when Chelsea were playing away and everybody's older brother was beating up greasers down in Brighton, there was a precise uniform for hanging about in - three-button mohair suit with a 14-inch centre vent, 17-inch bottoms to the trousers, four buttons at the cuff. The suit was usually bought by unsuspecting mums and dads, no doubt pleased their offspring were not looking like those "bloody Rolling Stones". The outfit was completed by a Lion of Troy Oxford cotton button-down shirt, a college tie (but definitely not your school tie), a Crombie with a red handkerchief and the most expensive item, a pair of Wing Tips.

For the uninitiated, Wing Tips are the sort of heavy black brogue favoured by five-star generals and USAF lieutenants. In 1966 they would set you back £5 19s 6d, which is a lot of petrol pumped in your weekend job. And the only place to get those Wing Tips was a shop in Richmond called The Ivy Shop. It still is one of the only places to get them, but alas, only until tomorrow.

For The Ivy Shop, which was opened in the summer of 1965, is closing down on Saturday. It was named in awe of the clothes it has stocked from the beginning, Ivy League college boy looks from New England, imported and later copied by British companies, including Ben Sherman, to sell to those of us who knew that Carnaby Street would come and go in a surfeit of dandyism. We made the pilgrimage to Richmond to buy our Shermans long before they were kidnapped by the skins.

I went into The Ivy Shop last week to buy a pair of loafers and came out feeling as though I was about to lose a friend. The closing down sign in the window highlights the problem of the specialist shop in the face of rising rents and demands for high turnovers. John Lally has worked there for 29 of its 30 years. In 1966 we used to worry about whether to have a side parting like Ronnie Lane or a centre parting like Steve Marriott. This was when the Faces were still small and before Rod became a Mod. Lally doesn't have to worry about that decision any more - his parting is decidedly central and about four inches wide but he still wears penny round loafers.

In the summer of '66, we would all put on our summer gear - the Wing Tips would be replaced by loafers - and catch the 140 bus to Ruislip Lido (pronounced Lie Dough, not some poncy Venetian Leedo). The suit would be cast off and needlecords or Sta-prest with short sleeved Madras check shirts were de rigueur. In The Ivy Shop last week all were available.

So, until tomorrow, are Harrington jackets. Back in the Sixties, I remember being able to spot Manchester United supporters because they were still wearing Brylcreem and denim jackets. Hadn't they seen Harrington jackets up there? Of course they hadn't .It came home to me just last week that people from past Watford genuinely cannot get their heads round the concept of the Harrington. I visisted The Ivy Shop with my wife this last time and although she has lived in Richmond for more 20 years, doesn't really understand because she is originally from Yorkshire. When I tried on a classic "natural" Harrington she described it as beige. John Lally smiled. She asked if I was taking up train spotting. You see, to her, it was a windcheater, something her mum had bought her brother to wear in the cold. Lally sensed this and explained that the original style leader, Frank Sinatra, had worn one as Tony Rome in Lady In Cement. It was falling on fallow ground but he was undaunted and further explained that the Harrington was named after Ryan O'Neal's character from Peyton Place and was originally a golf jacket.

This was the secret that could never be unlocked by those who didn't know better. You took somebody else's uniform, the preppy look from the Ivy League, the golfer's jacket and you hijacked it for your own purpose - that is what street style was all about in 1966, and still is now. Not Beatle jackets, or flares or big belts and skinny ribs. The Ivy Shop knew this, but sadly, after tomorrow, one last bastion of real street style will be no more.

The Ivy Shop, 10 Hill Rise, Richmond, Surrey closes 21 January 1995; 0181-332 2427.

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