Customer Service

There was a time (1954, for example, as in these two LIFE Magazine photos) when you could visit J. Press in New Haven and have an old gent like this help you pick out a jacket. He may have been on commission, but he probably knew what looked good on you.

You might even bump into Irving Press, pictured front left in the photo below with his brother Paul at front right.

Irving’s obituary was carried in the New York Times, which you can find here. — CC

14 Comments on "Customer Service"

  1. Those were the days, my friend.

  2. I used to work in a small family run men’s shop that operated that way back when I was in high school. I loved working there, but I was too young to appreciate it for the member of a dying breed that it surely was.

    If I knew then what I know now, I’d have stuck around, bought the place out, and be happily carrying the torch today, probably.

  3. I well remember the older J. Press in Manhattan, on 44th Street, next to Chipp. It was like a men’s club.

  4. It was a different world!

  5. walked into the J.PRESS store, the day after christmas on Madison Ave. As soon as i entered the store, i ran into a spider hanging from the ceiling. I tried on a few suits, the construction is far from natural shoulder. I felt like a security guard at Chase Manhattan. Other items were interesting such as lambswool cardigan, but, alas, it didnt fit me.

  6. They have definitely turned a corner.

  7. In 1954 there were shops and salesmen like this all over the nation. Not always the level of quality goods, but almost always the level of service. Now you’re lucky if the person in the “men’s department” even knows what material anything is made of, or how it’s sized.

  8. Three cheers for J. Press. Including the most recent resurrection. If it’s true Brooks was the foundation, J. Press’ (more creative/imaginative) approach added life to what could easily become a stale style. From Shaggy Dog shetlands to Irish Poplin stripes to wool challis prints to boldly checked tweeds, J. Press innovated. Let’s hope this spirit of inventiveness perseveres. In this era of casual dress for business (and sweats-and-sneakers during weekends), we’ll take all “trying for elegance” we can get.

  9. Michael Brady | January 28, 2019 at 9:57 am |

    I was privileged to serve in the same capacity as those gentlemen, but in a mid-western store, during the 60-70’s. We not only took pride in serving the customer’s needs but often became their friends outside of business. The store staff also was a sort of an extended family.

    There are a few of these establishments, much like J. Press, that have hung on, but they have been forced in many cases to become virtual stores or have risen to the top of the price scale putting them out of reach all but the affluent. Most of the ambiance and accessibility of those earlier businesses was lost.

  10. Richard E. Press | January 28, 2019 at 11:38 am |

    Thanks for the memory. My return to J. Press coheres with the company strategy honoring the past while moving forward with a dignity that recognizes the top tier of current taste.

  11. As CC touched on awhile back, Ivy/Trad is the perfect style for business casual. It’s so much more relaxed and personally expressive than the tight-fitting, monochromatic shirts and jackets paired with skinny selvedge jeans. That stuff can cost just as much as Ivy, but it’ll never look as good. In a modern world in which one needs to stand out to succeed, wearing the same clothes as everyone else is not going to help.

  12. Vern Trotter | January 28, 2019 at 3:03 pm |

    “Have an old gent like this?” Be careful as the PC police tend to be everywhere. Would you say gay or black gent? As with most comments here, just tongue in cheek.

  13. Henry Contestwinner | January 29, 2019 at 2:58 pm |

    Vern,

    Would it be OK if one said, “an old black homosexual gent?” 😉

  14. Well “gent” was certainly a derogatory term in Victorian times.

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