Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Official Preppy Handbook

In society, fashion is used to assert, affirm and refute power. Prep helps sustain status quo style. In the The Official Preppy Handbook (1980) writer Lisa Birnbach uses semiotics to de-code preppy subculture. Prep is based on economic resources for a life of advantages emphasizing college preparatory education. It is also associated with American aristocracy, WASP subculture, and traditional values expressed through classic outward aesthetics. Because is it largely about socio-economic status, it is promoted in consumer culture as an achievable style that drives many brand visions.

Prep subculture was originally about quality education in the classics and could be recognized by accent, through region and schooling. Now it is the clothing that serves as index.

The Preppy Handbook is based on Britian's Sloan Ranger Handbook and has been followed by the Filthy Rich handbook below and also below a Japanese version.

Historic northeastern prep, the Kennedys, and in LA Robert Evans at home in the 1960's.

Prep is evident in many fashion brands and campaigns.

Brooks Brothers 2006 above & JCrew 2008 below

Italian heritage brand Marina Yachting, 2010

Juergen Teller, Washionton DC, W , 2009

Some suggest prep subculture is increasingly irrelevant. The following ad for alcoholic tea was targeting the American collegiate audience but the product did not succeed.


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