Vintage sports style gets the linen treatment

It’s easy to look back through recent history and rock back in our collective chairs in abject horror at some of the ‘style’ decisions humanity made. The 70s was one particular period of time that invokes both horror and applause in the arena of menswear. Before we lambast our '70s forefathers for some of their questionable style choices, we must understand that many of them were making their wardrobe decisions while still being ‘non compos mentis’, untenably hungover from the acid binges of the 60s, who in turn were fighting against the white-collar humdrum of the 50s. It might go some way to explain the proclivity for vomit-toned amorphous silhouettes such as bell-bottom trousers.

Sick tracksuits, sickening perms.

Nothing will ever explain the male perm, however, and like many of humanity’s heinous crimes of the past, we must never allow this particular one to slide from our collective consciousness. While we’re on the subject of hair, sideburns, too, found themselves invading hitherto unexplored facial territories, embarking on violent campaigns to the neighbouring chin region. Such unimpeded intrepidity should never be allowed free reign again.

Now that we’ve cleared our throat, there is an element of vintage style and culture that we do want to champion - a style aesthetic that to this day continues to play an integral part of menswear design, informing a great deal of today’s casualwear and streetwear, and that is vintage sportswear. More so than the '50s and '60s, the 70s was the decade that truly spawned the sports star, propelled to new heights of public adoration thanks to that cathode ray tube people were calling a television. Beamed into homes all over the world, the Herculean performances and Sisyphean struggles of athletes soon turned them into our icons, and we wanted to be like them, sound like them, but most importantly look like them. Cue the era of the lucrative sports brand sponsorship, as the world’s stars became the perfect real estate for sports apparel companies.

Bjorn showing the crowd just how big his sponsorship deal was.

Some of a more cynical persuasion might call this the unsavoury creep of capitalism ruining the otherwise pure environs of human athletic endeavour, but they would be wrong. All of a sudden, the sporting world - that microcosm of the human condition replete with agony, ecstasy, injustice, miracle, torture and tribalism - became a melting pot for creativity, with brands and designers alike carving out new and unexplored niches in sports-inspired menswear. We were spoiled. From the tennis courts to the golf courses to the boxing rings via the football pitches and the basketball courts, sports style became an indelible part of off-duty menswear. 

So this this, we decided to incorporate some of our favourite vintage sporting motifs into an element of menswear collections you rarely ever see it in - knitted linen. That’s right, linen. Yes, you would be forgiven for thinking that linen was better served in Italian summer suits and shirts, or hippie trousers, but good quality linen is an amazing fabric to use for summer knitwear because it’s light and breathable and boasts an amazing textural finish when woven with cotton.

The Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus rocking the prep-tastic cardigan and rollneck double team.
Mayfield Cardigan Tutwell Navy

Mayfield Cardigan
Tutwell Navy

Mayfield Cardigan Tutwell Beige

Mayfield Cardigan
Tutwell Beige

That’s why we chose a linen cotton yarn to create our Mayfield cardigan, featuring a contrast striped back. The inspiration process took us on a nostalgia tour of 70s golf, the era of giants such as Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, and the Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus, who wore a bright yellow cardigan when he famously won the 1972 US Open. The Mayfield comes in two colourways; a navy style with a beige striped back, and a beige style with a pistachio green striped back. We’ve cut it with a relaxed fit, in line with the 70s style, along with a five-button fastening for a preppy Ivy League look. Both perfect worn with white, cream or khaki summer chinos or shorts, layered on top of a knitted polo or simple white tee. We also used the same two fabrics to create our Blenheim crew neck.

Blenheim Jumper Lifton Navy

Blenheim Jumper
Lifton Navy

Blenheim Jumper Lifton Green

Blenheim Jumper
Lifton Green

For our Penhale knitted long-sleeve polo, we casually stride off the golf course and onto the European football pitches of the midcentury, a high point for kit aesthetics in Europe’s top leagues. Over in England around the same time, it was all about the mad hair and sideburns, but the continental elites were running out every Saturday in iconic shirts with slick collar details, cool club badges and svelte fits. 

Does nostalgia make everything cool or were vintage football kits just genuinely better? Discuss.

So we took some of that inspiration and applied it in a much more elevated way via our Penhale polo. This regular-fit knitted polo shirt features a spread collar and resort placket and has been constructed in a soft, midweight linen-mixed yarn with contrast coloured cuffs. It's a great way to add a vintage sports element to relaxed tailoring, or a slick way to dress up a pair of casual khaki shorts.

Penhale Knitted Polo Shirt Keybridge Green

Penhale Knitted Polo
Shirt Keybridge Green

Penhale Knitted Polo Shirt Keybridge Beige

Penhale Knitted Polo
Shirt Keybridge Beige

Penhale Knitted Polo Shirt Keybridge Navy

Penhale Knitted Polo
Shirt Keybridge Navy

It's a beautiful and versatile piece of preppy kit since you can wear it beneath a relaxed, unstructured blazer or sports coat if you want to dress it up, or you can go for a more off-duty Hamptons look with a pair of tailored shorts and some deck shoes. The resort collar and polo silhouette give you that sports-inspired aesthetic, while the linen-cotton blend attributes it with a refined textural finish. 

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