Expensive, douchey and inaccessible: Why does anyone like Vineyard Vines?

Nice whale printed pastel chubbies lol

I don’t know when it started – somewhere around ’09 or 2010. But sometime in the past 10 years, we were collectively fooled into thinking that $100 pastel shorts with little whales on them were something to be worn in public. Since then, Vineyard Vines has become a bastion of preppy culture, being seen on everyone from Barack Obama to Prince Harry.

Yet, my problem with the friendly pink whale goes deeper than the sheer fact that it doesn’t look good; the increasing popularity of Vineyard Vines coupled with its distinguished ‘country club’ aesthetic have made the unofficial uniform for fraternity brothers across the country. And while trends might come and go, Vineyard Vines promotes more of a lifestyle than anything else.

And on one hand, totally fair. If you have the money to splash out on Vineyard Vines and you’re not ashamed to rock that $395 floral blazer, then do it. But, when I see guys come back from their first semester at university, desperate to fit in and scrambling to stock up on as many pastel polos as they can, is when it gets a bit funny, if not tragic.

Apart from the fact that someone rocking a full Vineyard Vines fit looks more suited to be in a Mother Goose fairy tale than sat behind you in stats, the brand markets itself in a way that goes above and beyond the laidback, beachy, upper-middle-class look that we associate it with. You don’t just own one thing from Vineyard Vines, you own many.

And when a brand becomes so tightly associated with a lifestyle – such as Vineyard Vines has become with university greek life and the types people who use the word “summer” as a verb, is when it becomes a way for people to distance themselves from others. Of course, owning status items isn’t something that started with Vineyard Vines. But to a certain extent, the brand does perpetuate the polarization of those who wear it, and more importantly, those who can afford it.

As opposed to other brands which we might consider preppy, such as J. Crew and Brooks Brothers, the Vineyard Vines look is unique, most notably recognized by its pink whale logo. Nowhere else could you cop a cheaper version of bonefish-printed swim trunks and America’s Cup branded rompers. If you need further proof that this brand is just absolutely ridiculous in the way it markets itself just look at the description for the romper, saying that it’s “a cute, colorful, and an inspired choice for a jaunt to Bermuda or a race day party.”

While owning a few Shep shirts doesn’t mean that you’re always jaunting to Bermuda or rubbing elbows with the moneyed and honeyed at the Kentucky Derby, it does buy into a brand which champions a culture that is both elite and just simply inaccessible to most Americans. All in all, Vineyard Vines promotes what it calls the ‘good life’, one quick look at its website takes you to beach holidays in the Carribean and sailing in Nantucket. And yeah, I’m sure if you have the funds to spend $78 on a straw hat without having a second thought about it, your life is pretty good.