In August 2018, J. Press shuttered their legendary Cambridge haberdashery after 86 years of dressing Harvard undergrads, professors, and the North Shore financiers commuting into their Boston offices. Indeed, it was a sad day on Mt. Auburn Street.
On the subject of sad, 2020 has been nothing if not, well, sad. Like, really sad. But in Tradsville, there is a sign for hope. Right across the Charles from their old digs, Squeeze has claimed new, arguably more sought-after, real estate in Boston, opening a pop-up shop inside the Kashiyama store and atelier on Newbury Street. “We’re excited to be back in the Boston area,” said Robert Squillaro, Senior Vice President & Chief Merchandising Officer at the US division of Onward Kashiyama (the parent company of J. Press), about the pop-up. “It will function as both a store and a guide shop. Our main focus was to get merchandise in the space and open for business.”
In many ways, the shop is indicative of the times. “Our sister company, Kashiyama, has the space and, under the current conditions, tailored clothing sales have been challenging, so we decided to dedicate some of the space to a J. Press pop-up shop,” said the J. Press executive. And it’s not just the location itself, but what the location is stocking. Says Squillaro, “We filled it with Shaggy Dog sweaters, corduroy pants, OCBDs and other classic items.”
As time goes on, the intention for the brand, established in New Haven in 1902, is to give the space a little more personality, adding props and decorations that give the feel of being inside a true J. Press retail location. “Our goal is to provide our customers in the area a place to shop in person, and hopefully to introduce our brand to new customers that did not shop with us in Cambridge,” said Squillaro. “We have had many requests from our customers to return to the Boston area and we thought this would be a great way to bring J. Press back.”
The location is designated a pop-up space as it is not intended to be a permanent location. Having begun Friday, December 11th, it will remain open for as long as the customer response deems it appropriate, according to Squillaro.
J. Press has been owned by Onward Kashiyama, a subsidiary of Onward Holdings Company, Ltd., since 1986. Onward Holdings is a Japanese corporation that owns and manages a number of apparel brands under its umbrella. Its golden goose is Kashiyama, which is most notable for its made-to-measure suiting starting at $300. Kashiyama has had a store on Newbury Street, the iconic strip known for high-end shopping in Boston, since early 2019, with five more across the East Coast (and an outlier in Dallas). The company had planned — pre-pandemic, that is — to have 100 shops in the US by 2021. — TREVOR JONES