The idea for Black Ivy can be traced back to one afternoon in Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, when Jules decided that he needed to channel his thoughts about fashion into a proper book. Co-authored by Graham Marsh, the book chronicles the ways in which African-Americans adopted and reshaped mid-century collegiate fashion during a period of enormous social change.
We wanted to get a better understanding of the topic – and how Jules went from club promoter to author – so we sat down with him to discuss the finer points of his newest project and what it’s like for a novice to enter the world of publishing.
ACM: Let’s start with the book. I’m curious why you were interested in this period of fashion – and in African-American style, particularly since you’re not American. What attracted you to the clothes in Black Ivy?
JJ: Ever since I was about three or four, I’ve been into clothes, and primarily what I understood to be American clothing. I was born short-sighted, and when I was about three or four, I remember watching TV very close up. There was a series of reruns of Fred Astaire movies and, for some reason, I was really compelled to watch these things every afternoon. I remember saying to my mum: “I want to dress like ‘Alistair’.” I didn't want those clothes at the shop. “I want to dress like Alistair.” And she had no idea what I was talking about. And I didn’t have any idea what I was talking about actually, because I couldn’t read yet. It was only like a couple years later, going to school, that I recognised my mistake.