Rowing Blazers is launching its biggest collection to date for summer ‘21, and it has a lofty goal: inspired by the 1990s and Rowing Blazer founder Jack Carlson’s youth, the collection sets out to redefine the word “preppy.”
“We’ve avoided the word ‘preppy’ since Rowing Blazers started, almost exactly four years ago,” said Carlson. “The whole world has changed a lot in that time, and I think it’s time to start facing head-on what we’ve been doing unintentionally the whole time, and that’s changing (for the better) the way people think about ‘preppy’ clothes. The way that the industry has presented so-called ‘preppy’ clothing in the past has been at worst problematic and at best cringe-worthy and corny. But for me in 2021, that vibe doesn’t ring true. I think about growing up in the ‘90s and early 2000s and a whole crazy mixture of influences. This stuff at its core is colorful, fun, and a little subversive.”
The collection, shot by Los Angeles-based photographer Sam Dameshek in Malibu, doesn’t shy away from ‘90s-era preppy tropes: but in place of stuffiness, there’s a sense of easygoing irony and irreverence. References to tennis and chess mix with nods to surf and streetwear; the palette ranges from ‘90s neons to more classic ‘preppy’ color combinations; a green version of the brand’s famous hand-knit sheep sweater, previously available only in red, pops against Carlson’s bright yellow ‘95 Range Rover; and obsessively researched collaborations with historic heritage brands sit seamlessly alongside mesh shorts and graphic tees. This is a collection that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The collection, made entirely in Europe and the United States, includes rugby shirts made on vintage knitting machines; terry toweling polos and shorts; color-blocked, surf-inspired windbreakers; piqué polos, including a knitted chessboard pattern complete with embroidered chess pieces (and a matching cotton sweater); intarsia and lambswool knitwear; the brand’s first skirts and dresses; madras suits and shorts; pajama sets; Oxford and broadcloth button-downs handmade to order in the United States; women’s cycling shorts in white; unisex mesh gym shorts; graphic tees and sweats; and bucket hats, belts, mini banker bags, as well as a host of other accessories.
The collection also extends Rowing Blazers’ ongoing partnership with two legendary British knitwear brands famously worn by Princess Diana – Warm & Wonderful and Gyles & George. This season, Rowing Blazers is releasing new colorways for men and women of both the iconic sheep sweater (the Princess of Wales was known for wearing a red version) and the tongue-in-cheek “I’m A Luxury” sweater (in its original gray color scheme).
Other collaborations featured in the collection include a limited-edition watch produced in tandem with legendary Japanese watch brand Seiko, which will have its own release in June; a footwear capsule produced with Sperry Top-Sider, featuring a lug-sole boat shoe in two colorways, nylon color-blocked CVO sneakers, and a chunky multicolor cup sneaker; and perhaps most uniquely, a racing shell (rowing boat) made in partnership with WinTech Racing emblazoned with the brand’s signature stripe and custom interior. For every boat ordered, WinTech and Rowing Blazers are donating a boat to a rowing program focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
“Someone recently told me that we had avoided using the word ‘preppy’ until we had helped to redefine the genre,” added Carlson. “I thought that was a huge compliment.”
The collection, which retails between $48 and $695, is now available at rowingblazers.com.