Prior to hip hop’s embrace of Tommy Hilfiger, before the jock style craze of the Marky Mark years at Calvin Klein, and preceding the boom of the all-American boy-next-door image of the Abercrombie rebrand, there was the Northeastern prep of Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren. Preppy Ivy League style has inspired countless designers over the decades, and taken many forms. Up next in the long history of collegiate prep reimaginations is Daiki Suzuki of Engineered Garments.
“The roots of my clothing style are deeply influenced by the Ivy League style of 1960s America,” said Suzuki of his spring 2024 menswear collection. The designer explained that his youthful attraction to Ivy prep eventually transformed into an embrace of the Heavy Duty Ivy style that emerged in Japan in the ’70s—which merged Ivy elements with outdoor gear. Much of this has been folded into the sartorial language of Engineered Garments over the years, but never as evidently as in this collection.
Chalk that up to Suzuki rediscovering Charles Hix’s 1977 book Dressing Right, in which the former GQ and Playboy columnist broke down prep style and offered advice to men on building a wardrobe with pieces that suit their body types, while explaining the differences between collar sizes, lapel cuts, and the like. The tome followed Hix’s best-selling book Looking Good: A Guide For Men, which advised men on grooming and perfecting their appearance through a set of…let’s call them steamy images by Bruce Weber. In hindsight, this quiet men’s style revolution in the ’80s gave way to the sartorial overhaul that arrived later in the ’90s—the more you know!
Dressing Right also broke down styling techniques by designers, Lauren included, and explained the nuances of dressing up and down for men. “It shattered my preconceptions and revealed to me new ways of wearing clothes,” wrote Suzuki. That sentiment was encapsulated in this collection, which combines classic Engineered Garments styles—camp shirts, cargo shorts, utility parkas—with preppy seersuckers, windowpane and buffalo plaids, and oxford stripes.
Where Suzuki struck a chord here was in the blending of his eclectic prints and graphics with more traditional elements of prep. Conspicuous layering remains key to building an Engineered Garments look, and the same can be said about menswear today. Take a page out of this lookbook and try to find its street style equivalent in the real world—you’ll find more than one faithful interpretation. As it happens, Suzuki’s take on Dressing Right this season is more chronicle than explainer.