British Ivy: Remembering J. Press Salesman John Norey

When Richard Press first unveiled his column “A Tummler On York Street,” Ivy Style received an email from Peter Feen, great nephew of the man profiled in Richard’s column. Feen went on to tell us about his other great uncle, John Norey (above left), who also worked at J. Press in New Haven. Norey was an Englishman who started out in London tailoring before emigrating to America and going Ivy League. Feen also sent us the picture above, taken in the New Haven J. Press probably in the late ’60s. When Norey died a few years ago, Feen used part of his inheritance to enter the apparel business, and now operates Peter Becks in Salisbury, CT.

Here’s an excerpt from Norey’s obituary:

After apprenticing as a tailor in the Stoke-Newington section of London, Norey joined the British Army and was stationed in North Africa and Italy during World War II.

After his discharge, Norey resumed his career as a men’s tailor before emigrating to the United States in 1950. Settling in New Haven, he began a long career with the famous men’s clothier, J. Press. At various times, Norey had different company roles and was as responsible as anyone else in the clothing industry in preserving the well dressed Ivy League Look for men’s clothing, not only by J. Press, but by Brooks Brothers, Paul Stuart, Polo and their ilk. After a long and rewarding career, he retired from J. Press in 1993.

9 Comments on "British Ivy: Remembering J. Press Salesman John Norey"

  1. Thank you, Mr. Feen, for sharing some of your family history with Christian and with the rest of us.

  2. It’s interesting how many generations of families continue in the clothing business, the knowledge and love of it must be past on.

    Note the ticket pocket on Mr. Norey’s coat. Seems a tribute to his and Ivy style’s heritage to Brit tradition of the hacking coat? The ticket pocket seems to come in and out of the ivy style every couple of years.

  3. John Norey was indeed a valued member of the J. Press organization for nearly half a century. He graduated from tailor to merchandise manager and displayed a talent for detail that made him a scourge to suppliers here and abroad with his intimidating command of detail and incisive comments regarding any defects in product delivery. His fluent writing talent assisted years of J. Press advertising copy and brochures and his partnership with beloved wife Philley was enhanced by talented ballroom dancing exhibitions throughout the Northeast. He is pictured in the above photo with Frank York a popular member of the J. Press sales staff for years beyond the Heyday.

  4. Squeeze

    Thank you for the information. Mr Norey obviously a man with an eye for detail and many talents. Many of us have never had the opportunity to shop at J. Press other than through a catalog, so it’s fun to hear about these personalities. Who knows, many of us might have spoken to him on the phone prior to the net. Don’t we all have gentlemen clothiers with wealths of knowledge, that have taught and guided us through the dark forests of hippydom, disco polyester.

  5. These stories are great. A long time favorite of mine was Peter Rosetti in the NY store. I’d love to see a story on his history with J. Press!

  6. Bill Stephenson | May 12, 2012 at 2:14 am |

    What a thrill to open up to a photo of Mr York!

    The JP experience at the time of this photo is indescribable. Starting with the otc sox, and the 1 3/4″ cuffs on display on Mr York. There were no Ivy blogs in those days. You learned what was proper at JP.

    The attention to detail of the people at JP was intense. I remember going in one Monday, and hearing a discussion of the men that the staff had seen on tv, during the weekend, who were wearing JP garments.

    The little things made a huge difference.

    Long after New Haven ceased being a bucolic college town, Mr York would send someone from the store out to watch my car at a meter on York street.

    The attention to detail by the tailor, who was named Ralph, made the picture perfect. 99% of the guys that you see being fitted in the alteration room today, end up with a garment that isn’t properly altered. Ralph simply wouldn’t let a customer leave the store if the garment didn’t fit. (For those that feel that JP today isn’t the JP of past excellence, just have to realize that the new ownership felt that Ralph had to go.)

    If Mr York and I found a treasure with a questionable fit, Ralph would often opine “I’m sorry sir,that just won’t do.”

    All of that today, is as nonexistent as the overflowing ash tray, in the photo.

  7. Charlottesville | February 22, 2021 at 11:34 am |

    What a delightful photo. I first came to J. Press (in NY and DC) a couple of decades later, but it still has a familiar feel. Oh, for a time machine.

    Also, kudos to Christian for Saturday’s picture and sound advice: “Try to be less grumpy!”

  8. Fauci makes me grouchy.


  9. Great picture of Mr. York. I always remember him assisting getting my son outfitted every year prior to his heading off to Deerfield where a jacket and tie were required classroom dress.

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