East Coast Elitism Opening Soon

Lexie Reinecke, Staff Writer

Vineyard Vines, the preppy brand known for printed silk ties and a pink whale logo, will be opening a store in Walnut Creek in spring or summer. The location will be 1500 Mount Diablo Boulevard, in the heart of the city, across the street from other high-end retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Tiffany’s.

While VV’s look is unmistakably East Coast, interest has grown across the country, and currently, the brand is expanding to various locations such as Columbus, Ohio and St. Louis, Missouri.

On campus, VV has become increasingly popular as dozens of students don whale printed tees and quarter zip “Shep shirts.” Freshman Sofia Chilimidos said, “I like their clothes. I like their Shep-shirts. A Shep-shirt’s like a quarter zip sweatshirt and there’s a design on the top part of the back of it.”

Some have ordered the clothing online. Junior Katherine Woolsey explained, “It will definitely be better to see things in person because sometimes I don’t know what size I am for different things, and it’ll be a lot better to see the colors and things like that.”

Chilimidos said, “I’m really excited about the store coming because there isn’t one near here.”

“I have mixed feelings about Vineyard Vines coming. Well obviously I’m excited because there’s not many stores in California and if you can’t get it in a store you have to get it online. But I feel like people are gonna hop on a bandwagon for Vineyard Vines and it’s not necessarily a good thing because like how not a lot of people know about it now, and it’s more unique,” said Rachel Brickman.

Vineyard Vines was founded in 1998 on Martha’s Vineyard by brothers Shep and Ian Murray. The biography on the company’s web site reads, “We’re brothers who, in 1998, quit our corporate jobs and started selling ties so we wouldn’t have to wear them anymore. With no money or experience, we proved that the American Dream is alive and well!”

Today, the company has over 40 stores, 8 outlets, and 97 retailers. The brand is extremely popular amongst college students, and offers merchandise themed for certain schools and sororities, such as Yale bulldog ties and Delta Delta Delta headbands. The preppy dress style, which includes stores such as JCrew, Lilly Pulitzer, Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Sperry Topsider and Jack Rogers, has a strong following, and there are many blogs dedicated to the look.

Vineyard Vines is on the top of many preppys’ lists. Blogger Courtney, author of The Official Preppy Blog, posted, “Vineyard Vines is the perfect preppy line. I am obsessed. . . . I will always be obsessed with Vineyard Vines.”

A blog post on The Preppy Times had the same message. It read, “Vineyard Vines sells what preppies love the most, THE GOOD LIFE!”

The brand has suffered criticism for it’s particular association with east coast social elitism. Floating around on the internet are pictures depicting the company’s apparel photoshopped with offensive slogans such as, “When the most impressive thing on your resume is your last name,” and “The secret to getting wine out of your shirt: buy a new shirt.” Another reads, “It’s not what a person looks like on the outside that matters. Wait, yes it is.”

It’s uncertain whether or not this is the work of the company itself, which also promotes itself as, “Vineyard Vines, what the better half wears.”

“It’s definitely controversial. I think that it means well put together people wear it and if you wear Vineyard Vines you dress classier, but it’s also very expensive so people could take it as what the rich people wear. That could be offensive,” said Brickman. “It’s not necessarily a good message. But they have a message ‘everyday should feel this good’ and that’s a good message they put across.”

Anonymous online site Urban Dictionary, where anyone can post definitions, includes various posts which mock Vineyard Vines. One post reads, “Once considered generally cool, this brand of preppy retail clothing has since become symbolic with certain upper-class group dedicated to furthering only themselves.” Another described VV as, “A clothing brand for rich, white kids from the upper crusts of American society.” Complex.com even mentioned VV as one of the “Douchiest Clothing Brands Out There Right Now,” 2nd only to Donald Trump’s new clothing line.

Currently, the closest Vineyard Vines is in Marin. Because Walnut Creek is a popular shopping mecca, some students are excited to see VV coming to a town so close and easily accessible. Woolsey explained, “I do think that people will buy it because we don’t really have, except for J Crew, any other preppy stuff that I choose to wear. We need that and a Lilly Pulitzer.”