Split Personality: J. Press & York Street Spring 2014


J. Press sent out a mailer today introducing its new spring items. It’s business-as-usual with the main brand — for better or worse. The jacket above looks straight from a vintage catalog. Tough to tell what the shoulders are like, however, without in-person inspection.

But certainly what you’re most interested in, you anonymous hate-reading snarkers, is York Street. I shouldn’t be encouraging you, except that so much of York Street feels not like the younger brother of the main brand, nor even a distant cousin, but a totally random stranger — possibly an extraterrestrial.

To wit, my personal favorite from the new York Street collection, these girl-tight fleece shorts priced at an otherworldly $230, or something like ten bucks per square inch:


Prep-with-a-twist is usually ironic, treating traditional items with an irreverent attitude. The opposite approach is treating an irreverent item seriously. Here the shrunken fit and apparent matching trousers make this paneled fun jacket anything but fun. The model’s expression is the icing on the cake:


Next up, a cinch-back denim jacket…


And tropical-print military jacket, for making love and war:


My mother got something like this on our family trip to Hawaii:


 This blazer gets the shortest jacket award:


And these jeans take the wedgiest trouser trophy. — CC


53 Comments on "Split Personality: J. Press & York Street Spring 2014"

  1. This has to be a joke, right? A comedy that is the result of the juxtaposition of their product line that is ultra-conservative and the other that is irresponsibly and cartoonishly fashion oriented.

    It’s so clever and subversive, the model doesn’t even know it’s supposed to be funny.

  2. This is beyond the point of snark, this collection is actually sad. Not jokingly or ironic sad, but honest-to-goodness depressing. Someone has to stand in a store and sell this to people, someone has to write copy and do PR for this trash.

    This looks like the Ovadia boys forgot to do their homework, so they threw this together on the bus the next morning.

  3. Unabashedly terrible. All those sweat shorts need is some splatter paint….

  4. Thanks York Street, for rubbing some salt in my Monday.

  5. Dork St.

  6. I believe that this is the last year for the Ovadia’s and York street, at least under the original contract. Why not tap FEC to take the brand over next? I mean he says he “designed” for Rugby (although the job description read like he mostly dressed forms in windows) – surely he can’t do worse than this.

  7. @Rake – The timing is perfect for Fred too…..if he could join York Street just before it’s clearly going under, he’d have amazing neo-prep street cred. Not too many people can claim to have ‘designed’ for two defunct brands across less than 3 years.

    Fred – York Street is practically begging for your imagination and positive energy! Informal interview over scotch and dark chocolate? Have the Ovadia guys rent your spare (rental) bedroom on AirBNB for a weekend and fully immerse themselves in your creative, youthful home office? Hamburger lunch in sweatpants and a raccoon fur coat? Dust off those Ralph Lauren coffee table books and get the interns painting – full time work is calling!

  8. I’ve been lurking here for some time, however, this has to be addressed. I almost have no words to describe how dreadful these clothes are, they even look terrible on models, which is normally difficult to accomplish. Are the pants worn with that jean jacket embroidered in a rather odd way, or am I seeing things? Is that a Hawaiian print wife-beater? The four panel suit would look silly on a circus clown. It’s so bad I have a hard time believing this won’t destroy J Press itself.

  9. Fresh and fruity.

  10. First: nicely written piece. One of the best, CC.

    Second: can someone shed light on how designers get this kind of work?

    Third, check this out:

    I like.

  11. Also, this seems the right amount of polyester (16%) to keep a mostly cotton poplin suit something short of a wrinkled mess:


    I expected a tan version. Hmmmm.

  12. York Street isn’t Younger Brother, it’s Gay Son.

  13. That short navy blazer is an old Massachusetts Ivy style fashion, it’s worn harvesting cranberries. 😉

  14. This is where your money goes when you buy J. Press’s main line now, unfortunately. Pay $200 too much for a jacket to support these needy young designers, so they can design sweat shorts!

  15. @pale male That comment made my month

  16. Jeez we get it already, you despise non-traditional clothing. Find a new topic please.

  17. Sad indeed.

    It really looks like they took last seasons( what took more than a season to nearly give away) and built on it.

    York Street is seemingly moving away from the rugby-esque designs ( gaudy, fake patches, arm stripes) and more into an unwanted twist of modern style. There’s a big emphasis on color-blocking (that tri-color duffle coat was bad, so here’s a bi-color coat and polo) and prints, like camo, or leaves similar to BB Black Fleece’s banana print. When did hawaiian style prints EVER come back into style??

    They are going to have a really, really hard time moving any of this. I can guarantee you no one will ever spend 230 on sweat pant shorts when actual shorts are already vastly overpriced at 125.

    It’s also worth noting that they took Fred Castleberry’s advice. Tailored sweatpants are available for the reasonable price of 230, seen here with OCBD and tie.


    Which means? the next 70% off sale is inevitable. Wait, and get some nice chinos or something. It’s so embarrassing what this company has become.

  18. WTF is all that comes to mind.

  19. I think I’m gonna hurl….

  20. No one has mentioned the 4 button sport coats!?!? I have to say that I was not expecting that, but after I saw it, I thought, “of course.”

    SE – That grey herringbone looks nice as does the navy. Thanks for pointing it out.

  21. I almost showed one of the four buttons. There’s one with flap pockets, including on the breast pocket, then a belted back plus hook vent. Seems like a bit too much going on.

  22. Everything shown is horrendous. @aev, seriously dude, I’m voting it’s you as the fake Castleberry twitter account–you know waaaay too much. Let it go bro. It’s ok.

  23. @MWB – I’m flattered – that sh*t is hilarious – but it’s not me. I only know what Fred shares publicly…that’s sort of my point.

  24. @palemale Took the words right out of mouth.

  25. NaturalShoulder | February 10, 2014 at 10:11 pm |

    SE – thanks for pointing out the grey herringbone jacket. I am a fan of wool/linen blend jackets and the price is appealing.

  26. @cam

    “despise non-traditional clothing”?

    Not only the clothing, sir, but the people who design, manufacturer, market, buy, and wear the stuff.

  27. IF the designers had bothered to matched the pattern of the banana/plumeria leaf print on the jacket, I would wear it. I guess they didn’t check out old-style Reyn Spooner shirts.

    @ steve

    I presume you live on that other Coast, so Lily for Men, patchwork madras et al., and Brooks fun shirts are the bees’ knees. In Hawai’i/California amongst the “trad” guys, those prints have never gone out of style (Kahala and Reyn Spooner, but never Tommy Bahama). Merely a different perspective, I’d say.

  28. York Street seems to be: Take traditional men’s styles, re-cut them in the manner, fabrics and patterns of women’s clothing, and then sell the results to men. York Street is thus similar to, and perhaps more extreme than, Black Fleece.

  29. @MWB – Wait, there’s a fake Castleberry account on twitter?

  30. It’s taken years for them to wise up to patch-and-flap pockets on a poplin suit. I wonder why there’s no khaki or olive poplin suit. Curious.

    The old 65 (poly)-35 (cotton) was, well, way too synthetic. The Brooks Coolmax poplin (a 50-50 blend) was good. Seems to me this blend is sufficient to scare away a few wrinkles while allowing for a crease and a modicum of neatness. Seems as though some thought was out into it.

  31. The brothers Ovadia just impress me less and less each time I see their work. Their own line didn’t start off too badly, but now they’re wearing their hashtag menswear influences on their sleeve too much for my taste (when not misguidedly putting pilfered army decorations on said sleeve). York Street has always looked, to me, like an unmitigated disaster. See you at the sale racks.

  32. Never thought I’d live to see the day when Jos A. Bank out-trads J.Press….but alas, here we are.

  33. @Ryan

    Alas, you’re right.

  34. @ OCBD

    The J.Press four-button jacket was actually a thing in the heyday. See here:

    I don’t think that the fact that a four-button was sold by Press in the 50s make the cut any more attractive, but there is historical precedent for it at Press.

  35. No khaki poplin? Seriously?

  36. I wouldn’t wear the York St. stuff if you paid me. I don’t think I know anybody who would either. Dire. But the regular J. Press stuff seems alright. This whole York St. episode is a business school case.study. Unbelievable.

  37. That’s because Onward hired 2 J. Banks Managers you figure the rest I warned them,

  38. York Street is ugly, ill fitting , overpriced , garbage.

  39. @Zach

    Thanks! I told Christian that if you don’t laugh reading the comments you will learn something. I actually did both this time!

  40. James Redhouse | February 11, 2014 at 8:37 pm |

    I always thought of J.Press as being more conservative than Brooks Brothers, but York Street is even worse than Black Fleece, if such a thing is possible.

  41. @James Redhouse

    Oh, it’s possible alright.
    Those shorts are insane. They’d be right up Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Bruno’ characters alley. Pun intended.

  42. The look was conservative, traditional. Still is. All the camous shops that copied Press and Brooks relied heavily upon a customer base consisting of men who were likewise. Anti-fashion. The favor granted (breifly) by a few jazz musicians and beatniks aside, Old Brooks Style was intentionally conservative. It seems weird when attempts are made to be something else.

  43. The look was conservative, traditional. Still is. All the campus shops that copied Press and Brooks relied heavily upon a customer base consisting of men who were likewise. Anti-fashion. The favor granted (briefly) by a few jazz musicians and beatniks aside, Old Brooks Style was intentionally conservative. It seems weird when attempts are made to be something else.

  44. I know this is off-topic, but today there is an article in the WSJ about the new Ryan Seacrest line for Macy’s. Look for skinny suits, skinny ties, and spread-collar shirts. Each article of clothing also has a tag with a numeric code to help customers put together a matching ensemble. I predict the Ryan Seacrest line for Macy’s will outsell York Street.

  45. Back in the “heyday”, young women would buy men’s (or boys’) OCBDs at Brooks for themselves. From a Forbes article: “In the 1930s and 1940s, the company noticed that women were quietly shopping for themselves in the men’s section. Brooks Brothers womenswear was launched in 1949. Even though the label now has a dedicated women’s collection there are still women who are shopping in the men’s section for themselves.”

    J. Press’s York Street appears to be the mirror image of this, except without the underlying organic desire among very many men to wear what is basically women’s clothing.

  46. This line is indeed lousy, but I don’t get all the sniping at Black Fleece as a comparison. That partnership has been wildly successful; and, though they’ve had more than a few clunkers each season, Thom Browne has managed to keep his designs (basically) respectful to the base line while asserting himself vis a vis design principles and proportions.

    If anything, J. Press and York Street could learn a lot from Browne and Brooks Brothers. There aren’t any stand-alone Black Fleece boutiques to my knowledge; one has to buy the items at a Brooks Brothers store. Thus there is no brand cannibalization because to get to one line you have to interact with and view the other. Furthermore, for a lot of the patterns, Browne is working from BB archives, which is why their items look familiar-yet-new. It seems like Ovadia has done the opposite and tried to make their house items look more J. Press-y. (I bought a couple of the shirts and though the oxford cloth used had a thin, lived-in feeling wthout me even wearing it. Also the collars are too short and the sleeve lengths too long for their respective sizes.)

    Ideally everything would stay the same forever, but if you have to pander to the dreaded youth (such as myself), then Black Fleece seems to be the gold standard of expanding a traditional brand sensibly rather than stupidly.

  47. I have to agree with JHR. While some of the Black Fleece options are strange aesthetically, the quality is amazing. I purchased 2 cashmere sweaters, after a steep discount and friends/family sell on top of that, and they are the best I’ve ever owned. I continue to get compliments on them constantly. If you are looking at the flamboyant pieces only, and have no eye to self edit, you’re missing out on some gold.

  48. Black Fleece has free-standing stores in NYC and San Francisco.

  49. Although I wouldn’t want to wear most of the York Street stuff, I think that it really is in line with the preppy tradition. If you went to a prep school, you probably spent lots of unnecessary time and effort trying to find ways to work around your school’s dress code. “You said that we needed to wear a navy blazer. You didn’t say that it had to even come close to fitting.” That sort of thing. And on weekends, wearing things that are as far from the dress code as possible is essential.

    So I wouldn’t be at all surprised if York Street clothing has made an appearance in the prep world. And because the kids’ dads probably went to the same school and played the same dress-code-skirting games a couple of decades ago, they’re probably more than happy to spend too much money to help their sons play it now. (I know I am. No expense is too great to help your sons one up their friends in a GTH pants contest.)

  50. The Black Fleece store is within spitting distance of York Street on Bleecker. Surely that’s at least one reason why Press opened there.

    Press not only stocked Reyn Spooner shirts, but also did jackets out of the fabric during the McNairy era. Sounds Chipp-like to me, but I’m no expert.

  51. My aunt was one of the women buying OCBD shirts at Brooks. And when I was in college, many women bought the Shaggy Dogs at Press — numbered sizes in those days and made by Drumohr.

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