• The Black Ivy

    Top Drawer | Style | Culture  

    One flip through a 1940s Skull and Bones year book and it becomes apparent that the Ivy League was essentially a white experience. Twenty years later, Take Ivy documented within its iconic pages that the demographic had not really changed (there was one black student featured on page 83). Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs, of the New York style blog Street Etiquette, embody an appreciation for that very Ivy League aesthetic in their own style. Although inadequately represented as blacks in the definitive document of this particular style, they champion it. Today, the lasting effects of affirmative action have granted minorities a significant place in Ivy League universities. The duo felt compelled to introduce The Black Ivy in the spirit of T. Hayashida’s collection of candid photographs some 45 years ago. It is this appreciation of Ivy League style that made collaborating with Kissi and Gumbs a likely partnership.

    City College of New York serves as the landscape to The Black Ivy. And suitably so. Ivies scale the 160 year old brick and stone exteriors with vim. Its neo-Gothic campus was used to depict Harvard in the 1990 film Reversal of Fortune and more recently played host on several occasions to the American teen drama Gossip Girl. Kissi and Gumbs rounded up two dozen of their most dapper friends to hit the books...and the Shephard Hall lawn for a game of football.

    Photographed in New York, NY (enlarge)

    Sep 17, 2010 | Permalink (85) Total Comments

    A.J Pettes left a comment on 5/9/2015 at 3:55 AM:

    Marvelous. Just marvelous. The beauty of the photography is that it’s totally ambiguous to the time periods that it represents. The structures, individual takes on the Ivy League aesthetic, everything just falls together seemlessly.

    Gab left a comment on 4/4/2014 at 9:11 AM:

    What are some colleges and universities that have street style like this other then Howard and Morehouse?

    Inyang left a comment on 9/16/2012 at 1:45 PM:

    I discovered your blog from the article in Complex. I was excited to see that you are also living in Dallas!  I love the blog, you have done a great job. I also wanted to thank you for including these Black gentleman on the blog. Cheers!

    Devin left a comment on 12/1/2010 at 6:21 PM:

    I just discovered this blog and I really love it. I’m glad that I got to see this post, it really made me smile. Nothing like a very well dressed man.

    This is a great representation of the collegiate black man. I attend Howard University, a Historically Black College-University (HBCU), which is considered a “Black Ivy League” school and this it definitely the norm for most guys walking around the yard. Glad to see they’re not the only ones that put in that extra effort to make sure they are well dressed!

    Kimberly Richardson left a comment on 11/22/2010 at 12:00 PM:

    So glad to have discovered this photo segment. Love the look and why can’t more people dress like this? Cheers!

    FuturesBroker left a comment on 10/30/2010 at 2:32 PM:


    AGB left a comment on 10/19/2010 at 10:25 PM:

    Great job!  The words and pictures are amazing!!!!

    Steven T left a comment on 10/14/2010 at 2:00 PM:

    Does anybody know where I can get that toggle jacket or something similar? Simply amazing

    Jan left a comment on 9/28/2010 at 4:05 PM:

    perfectly. I love all pictures. Good Models and excellent clothes. All in all perfect. Good Job.

    christopher Matthew left a comment on 9/28/2010 at 5:32 AM:

    i got to say this is so how i dress i live in london, britain an most people find it funny when they see a well dress guy like me but this is how a guy should dress 10/10

    bastos left a comment on 9/27/2010 at 11:30 AM:


    Black Boy left a comment on 9/26/2010 at 10:47 PM:

    In the first photo, the third from the left, I think that’s Ouigi, the founder of the Brooklyn Circus clothes co. who has style for days.

    black boy left a comment on 9/26/2010 at 10:01 PM:

    A outstanding job.

    hillbilly left a comment on 9/23/2010 at 6:14 AM:

    this is so my style wish i was therrr, And i want the yellow/green basebal jacket can’t find those jackets here in holland. we have them but i don’t want those bigbaggy models this is so classy people should were this every day

    Elizabeth V. left a comment on 9/22/2010 at 12:12 PM:

    This does have a more ‘40s-‘50s feel to it than Take Ivy, but that’s what makes it unique. I too wish more people dressed like this, instead of shuffling about in sweats, saggy T-shirts, and (sigh) even furry bedroom slippers out in public…

    Alexandra left a comment on 9/22/2010 at 8:22 AM:

    Loves it. Love the aesthetic, love the shots. Also, this (the staged one full of hot, preppy men of color) is basically my dream school. Howard, my darling, you came so close…

    Clinto left a comment on 9/21/2010 at 8:24 PM:

    Pure awesome. Love it.

    Cardion left a comment on 9/21/2010 at 7:58 PM:

    I never comment on this site. But before I read one comment, let me say: “I Fu*** LOVE IT!!!!”

    Pure genius. Some won’t like it, but you know what, who gives a damn.

    Enamel left a comment on 9/21/2010 at 7:26 PM:


    julie left a comment on 9/21/2010 at 3:16 AM:

    Fred, this is truly an incredible work of photos…it is smart, tells a story and keeps drawing me back to be see more.  Really, brilliant.  You should be proud!

    Christian Bourasseau left a comment on 9/20/2010 at 11:16 PM:

    Excellent shots. Everything is very elegant!

    Cortnie left a comment on 9/20/2010 at 9:02 PM:

    Amazing shoot! Kinda takes you back to another time. Great job!

    Visit my blog www.stylelustpages.com

    QUEENZ left a comment on 9/20/2010 at 5:58 PM:

    As a black man and a fan of style and fashion I have to say I love the looks of this shoot BUT, where are the ladies? I would’ve loved to see some preppy girls on campus too, that would’ve made it much more realistic and who doesn’t love a sexy preppy chick?

    Brohammas left a comment on 9/20/2010 at 5:39 PM:

    Its a shame.  This should have been shot at Morehouse.

    ChrisByrm left a comment on 9/20/2010 at 3:54 PM:

    Very urbane and snobbish, yet brotherly (in the ethnic sense). I especially love the scenes where the dialogue seems to be taking place. A+!!!! Can anyone run by me the institute of where this collection was photographed?

    Jason left a comment on 9/20/2010 at 3:16 PM:

    Great photo shoot! A excellent follow-up too, to the overwhelming whiteness of the Preppy Party and the Skull and Bones yearbook (both of which were nevertheless quite interesting, and no doubt historically and contextually overwhelmingly racially homogeneous). And an additional note, lest we be misled by your rejoinder to the comments posted by people critical of your reference to affirmative action, “treating every man equal,”: white women are the group that have benefited the most from the institution of affirmative action in school admissions and hiring. Affirmative action is not, as many people wrongly believe, purely an issue of race. It is one of gender, sex, social/economic class, and other vectors of inequality that plague our putatively meritocratic, but factually unequal, society. That said, this is by far my favorite UP post so far.

    Robert I. Brown left a comment on 9/20/2010 at 1:29 PM:

    The Black Ivy spread is amazing; every gentleman looks amazing and the photographs are divine as always (F.E.). I enjoyed viewing this post. Great work.

    Ndey left a comment on 9/20/2010 at 1:19 PM:

    This is such a great post, these men of Colour are amazing and awesome! I love the brown Blazer!

    Jovel R. Phillips left a comment on 9/20/2010 at 9:41 AM:

    Showing love and appreciation: http://electrostaticlove.tumblr.com/post/1156026455/the-black-ivy

    Joy-Mari Cloete left a comment on 9/20/2010 at 7:44 AM:

    My in-depth, thoughtful comment du jour: Oh sweet Jesus, dudes in suspenders are sexy.

    Zulhilmi Rahman left a comment on 9/19/2010 at 11:36 PM:

    You people nailed it. Well done!

    However, Joshua Kissi needs to slow down on his bracelets and necklaces. No offense!

    bostonbrahman left a comment on 9/19/2010 at 11:06 PM:

    as a 23yo Black guy that is unabashedly prep, this is transcendent. Knew you’d post this sonner or later. And you keep me comin back….

    Julie left a comment on 9/19/2010 at 8:55 AM:

    These photos are unbelievable! I had trouble picking a favorite, but I think I’m going to go with the second ‘steps’ picture where the guys are sitting- so classic and quite adorable! And, of course, I love the group shot at the end.

    Fantastic post, sir, fantastic!

    M.D Cooley left a comment on 9/19/2010 at 4:59 AM:

    This is such a sick post these guys all look great, love that red db blazer.

    F. left a comment on 9/18/2010 at 8:29 PM:

    I really enjoy reading this blog. Keep on the good work!


    Trailer Trad left a comment on 9/18/2010 at 6:46 PM:

    Very, very good. Some of best of the ‘Tradosphere,’ for sure.

    Annabel Manners left a comment on 9/18/2010 at 2:17 PM:

    Fabulous photos and some very cute boys! :)

    Miles left a comment on 9/18/2010 at 11:51 AM:

    Just awesome!!

    JHA left a comment on 9/18/2010 at 2:08 AM:

    Point well taken F.E.C.

    Capitol A left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 11:36 PM:

    These guys look great. I don’t see a look that isn’t spot-on. They remind me of my new favorite clothing salesman/style god: joshua williams at billy reid in dallas.

    Sarah left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 9:00 PM:

    I love these photos! great style.

    Tom Bosché left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 8:38 PM:

    Like I said, Frederick, generating stimulating commentary ...

    Ted Roosevelt left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 8:28 PM:

    I appreciate the style on the “Street Etiquette” site.

    wale ariztos left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 5:16 PM:

    nice photographs. the styling is great.

    Jim left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 5:10 PM:

    pure style…love the caps!

    Erich Paul left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 5:08 PM:

    Excellent styling and congruence. As an Ivy League student, it makes me sad that my classmates don’t actually dress like this.

    Joey Dee left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 5:07 PM:

    Although the history of America can be checkered at times, we have moved on to grow to embrace people from all backgrounds. Freedom is choice. And all have the choice on how to put oneself together in the morning, despite background. Anyone who reads this fabulous blog, and has family that came from somewhere else to embrace the limitless lifestyle possibilities that living in a free republic offers to those who are willing to overcome obstacles; it wasn’t easy for coming over, especially in the early twentieth century, as all who were entering were looked upon with suspicion, and distrust.

    This particular entry, demonstrates that, anyone, despite background, if determined, can and will make an effort to put their best forward. Pics are great. I enjoy how debate springs from your pictures and topics at times.

    Trip English left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 3:41 PM:

    Better than take ivy

    Chantz Hough left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 2:14 PM:

    Bruce Weber would be jealous! Amazing as always.

    Damon left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 1:08 PM:

    This is an excellent spread. I enjoy your blog greatly and appreciate your inclusiveness. However, I do have to agree with Georgianna and express regret with how you framed the presence of blacks in ivy league institutions.

    Bjorn again left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 12:59 PM:

    Please please please make the images clickable for larger versions! I would love to see all the details better, expeciallty in the smaller photos. Is that doable you think?

    preppywithatwist left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 12:26 PM:

    I could easily see this photo shoot in a magazine editorial spread - great styling, great shots. Bravo to all of you.

    Unyime Akpanudosen left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 12:24 PM:

    I can only revel in the work that has been done here. I am a reader of the Street Etiquette blog, so I recognize them however everyone else brings their own unique flavor to the editorial. A well done homage and re-introduction of classic Ivy Style into this new age. I honestly didn’t know many people of this style, till I started browsing the East Coast (way of NY) blogs. It’s truly inspiring and somewhat remarkable.

    I feel as if I must move there to be surrounded by such individuals because this is yet to make its way west. Just inspiring.

    Unyime Akpanudosen

    Richard Ross left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 12:09 PM:

    Absolutely top drawer.

    Juicy left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 12:05 PM:

    Great! Now where is CJ Something with the video?!

    Tom Bosché left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 11:47 AM:

    Frederick, Joshua, Travis and all of the other gentlemen featured: Excellent idea, and even better implementation. Please continue your work together - I look forward to hearing more about “The Black Ivy”. Completed project? Continuing work? Hard copy?

      In my ideal world, every student would see this, and model their dress accordingly. Include all non-students, and we’d really be heading in a great direction. I really believe that dressing well breeds self-respect, which builds confidence and enables one to maximize their achievements and accomplishments.  You are all well on your way ...

    Ryan left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 11:32 AM:

    Perfection!Creativity at its best!This just made my weekend!

    Jimmy Black left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 11:03 AM:

    When I saw your post I crapped my pants with excitement.  What an incredible idea.

    Save Khaki left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 10:40 AM:

    Amazing job, Fred.  Your magnum opus (thus far).  I can’t wait to brag about how we knew you BEFORE you made it big.

    WestEggCream left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 10:37 AM:

    With the exception of the white socks with black loafers and what appears to be dangerously close to a Members Only jacket, I’m down with all of it. Gentlemen and scholars.

    chan left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 10:20 AM:

    beautiful shoot. it has an amazing old-world feel.

    jvc left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 10:06 AM:

    best post in a while!  Is this just for the blogs, or is this part of a bigger project?

    Glenn left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 9:52 AM:

    Bravo Fred, Josh and Travis.  This is spectacular photography.

    Sont left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 9:51 AM:

    Thank you!!!!  I hope this photo essay picks up some traction and spreads through the music/fashion/style networks to start inspiring others.  Everyone looks GREAT.  These are the men of my dreams!!!

    sean left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 9:50 AM:

    i’m really glad you guys shed some light on this part of the culture, very elegantly done. ive only been reading this blog for about a week but im a huge fan already

    Jon Tiffin left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 9:41 AM:

    Stellar campaign work Fred. Great combo of your style and the story being told! Nice!!

    Bjorn left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 9:39 AM:

    Fantastic! This is why I keep comming back here every day!

    James Basler left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 9:37 AM:

    killer shoot fred. glad to see the final product. keep it up.

    Steven Elmer left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 9:31 AM:

    Literally, too kool for skool!

    trip left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 9:26 AM:

    Are there larger versions of these photos anywhere?

    Quintin left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 9:17 AM:

    My Alumni (Groves’ School of Engineering ‘05)... A lot of history in those walls… Great shoo guys!!

    robdarko left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 9:15 AM:

    Clever and well done.  My favorite is the bearded fellow (first picture, third from the left).  I know,  I know… I lack imagination.

    Ian left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 9:13 AM:

    All these guys have incredible style. I’m loving it.

    pat s left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 8:58 AM:

    great essay, love the use of city college, and the football shot.

    joei left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 8:56 AM:

    This is ridiculously dope. So much style in only a few pics.


    Joshua Matthews left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 8:56 AM:

    I will take two please!

    Kristoffer Bunch left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 8:30 AM:

    Fantastic job Fred! This could easily become a best-selling book. It’s always a pleasure to see your caliber of work.

    Xanax left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 8:23 AM:

    This is so INSPIRATIONAL! Well done Fred, Joshua, Travis & the rest of the crew!

    trm left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 8:22 AM:

    great shots..great style

    tammy left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 8:12 AM:

    This is so elegant.

    AEV left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 7:58 AM:


    Jeremiah left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 7:39 AM:

    Amazing. All those guys are simply killing it!

    beenswank left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 7:19 AM:

    This is beyond remarkable.

    James Jean left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 6:49 AM:

    I already knew going in that Fred would do a remarkable job with this project, I just didn’t expect the shoot that day to go that quickly but nevertheless, here’s the fruit of our labor. Firstly a big thanks to the Gents who took part in this magnificent idea and the biggest thanks to Josh, Travis and Fred for making this collaboration possible.

    James Jean

    amir left a comment on 9/17/2010 at 6:30 AM:

    EXCELLENT!!!! Job well done Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs