The sun is glaring down on a Cap d’Antibes beach from a vast blue perch. It’s the summer of 1923. Gerald Murphy—artist, F. Scott Fitzgerald muse, and heir to the American leather accessories maker Mark Cross—takes refuge from the blistering heat in a shirt he discovers in a Marseilles market. It’s striped. The navy-on-cream Breton stripe looks so handsome on Murphy that his friend Picasso follows suit.
The jaunty appeal of the striped sailor top Murphy first discovers not only escapes the Murphy’s meticulously curated coterie of characters but achieves a devout following of royals, artists, and rebels. The likes of The Duke of Windsor, Jean Seaberg, Andy Warhol, and Joan Baez all go on to iconize what is essentially the French naval uniform. It isn’t until the 1970s that the Breton stripe shirt settles down as the androgynous staple we know now lovingly adopted by American preppies.
One of those American preppies is Nikki Kule. A Parsons-trained fashion designer with a stint at Brooks Brothers manning the boys and girls collections and a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Nikki is obsessed with stripes. One might even say possessed. She currently designs her namesake line Kule out of New York. The collection for women and men boldly embodies this “Preppy Luxe” aesthetic Nikki has embraced so warmly throughout her life.
This fixation has Nikki deep in the pursuit of the perfect striped shirt. More specifically, the Breton striped shirt. With a handful of silhouettes to fancy any whim, we’ve been living in them this entire summer (we affectionately refer to it as being "Kule for the Summer"). While the royal blue-on-cream is a modern interpretation of the striped shirt Pablo Picasso made famous, Nikki’s exploration of color results in a prism of color-ways likely to be crowned new classics by summer's end. Fortunately, a 3,915 mile trek to a Marseilles market isn’t necessary to get your hands on one, just a quick trip to a striped corner of the world wide web called kule.com.