Weight Off Their Shoulders: New Shape For J. Press Fall 2015

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On Wednesday J. Press sent out an email blast plugging its new fall collection. I immediately received a flood of messages (OK, one guy), asking what in the world was going on at the company. The answer is I have no idea, no one has any idea, and probably J. Press has no idea.

The email touted a new collection, and there is a page on the site devoted to “new looks,” but there are inconsistencies in jacket silhouette, some appear not new but rather from previous seasons, and jackets that are clearly new come in only regular length, with no short or long options. That’s one way to cut costs — and in doing so isolate a large portion of your already dwindling customer base.

On the plus side, some jackets come with shoulders far different from the high, squared-off ones we’ve seen for many years, reportedly made by the S. Cohen factory in Canada:

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According to the description, the navy blazer pictured at top, with its sloping shoulder, is a “special edition” co-labeled with Southwick. In this screenshot from the “new looks” page, you can clearly see the difference is results from the various factories J. Press uses:

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Let’s hope — when it comes to shoulders, that is — that J. Press is on a slippery slope. — CC

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23 Comments on "Weight Off Their Shoulders: New Shape For J. Press Fall 2015"

  1. Cranky Yankee | August 28, 2015 at 1:29 pm |

    On August 14, I went on a mini rant here about the odd and inconsistent front button spacing that Press has adopted recently. Your reader is absolutely right to ask, “…what in the world was going on at the company?”

    The U.S. made Glen Plaid suit at the bottom of today’s post gets it right on both the natural shoulder and the button spacing. The Canadian made jackets though continue to miss on both counts. Confusing and very frustrating. Is Press really sending out different patterns or are the vendors just making what they want?

  2. J.Press has been screwing around with the shoulders for the last 15 years or so. I forgot exactly when Press was sold,
    but the inconsistency or downright abandonment of their traditional natural shoulders began with the new owners.
    Full disclosure: I own a j Press suit that is at least 35 years old with two buttons and side vents- a British look.
    Nevertheless, the shoulders are true natural shoulders. This suit is RTW. I mentioned it because over the years,
    Press offered cuts that differed from there trad sack suit.

  3. Charlottesville | August 28, 2015 at 3:20 pm |

    To the aptly named Mr. Sack – I have a 2-button, 3-piece Press suit from perhaps 20 years ago, and recall that they had some positively “mod” 2-button offerings in the early 70s, at least as far as lapel width goes (they outfitted Dick Cavett for his talk show), but the natural shoulder was always a hallmark until the last 15 years or so. Southwick currently makes a 2-button sack with side vents that sounds like the 35-year old suit you describe. It is the primary offering of the old university men’s shop Eljo’s where I live. It comes in some lovely tweeds, but I still prefer the 3/2 version. The glen plaid suit above looks very promising.

  4. Bags' Groove | August 28, 2015 at 4:13 pm |

    It’s all in the shoulder line. Just like a Brancusi sculpture, the shoulder is only right when the line is absolutely perfect. That beautifully sensuous curve that cannot be beaten. My lifelong quest for the perfect natural shoulder. For me that is the essence, the very soul of Ivy. Everything else is peripheral.

  5. A.E.W. Mason | August 28, 2015 at 4:25 pm |

    As things stand now, I’d either purchase my suites at O’Connell’s or purchase the cloth and have my tailor make up the garment. I’ve have it with J. Press. Palming off those “things” made by S. Cohen on loyal customers was stupid. I recently replaced a J. Press butcher stipe button-down; the collar on the new shirt has zero roll. If New England Shirt Co. is still making the J. Press dress shirts then something is wrong over there. J. Press is, in my view, quickly making itself irrelevant.

  6. A.E.W. Mason | August 28, 2015 at 4:26 pm |

    Sorry… I mean “suits.”

  7. That blazer deserves a patch pocket.

  8. My irony meter went off at the notion of J. Press making itself irrelevant. Surely you can appreciate that what’s irrelevant depends on your point of view, and that making clothing that’s with the times is generally seen as making things “relevant,” while doing things the old-fashioned way is a sure way to ensure that a company eventually becomes “irrelevant.”

    So if J. Press does not do things the irrelevant way, it will quickly become irrelevant to those who despise contemporary relevancy.

    Of course, we already know everything in the world has been turned upside down.

  9. Just give me a jacket with good shoulders. It’s obviously hard to do since it’s so rare, or so expensive.

    But if it were all you did, I’m sure it would be easier and cheaper.

  10. A.E.W Mason has it right. O’Connell’s for suits, etc. John and Ethan do their own sourcing to their high standards. Family owned with tight control. Same values we use to extoll about J.Press. When we still have family owned businesses that consistently get it right, like David Mercer and O’Conell’s, I cannot see taking my trade to a lesser standard bearer.

  11. Bought the sack seersucker sportcoat because it finally dropped to a price I could afford during the end-of-season sale. Canadian-made, and I have to say that I thought the soft construction on that was excellent, so maybe the problem isn’t national manufacturing variances but rather a confusion as to what is actually desired by management, to loquatiously agree with Christian’s point about the company being in flux.

    I also thought that the new neckwear and trousers were very tasteful, and I did like the handful of new tweeds they put out, but the lack of items is the most dissapointing aspect (as opposed to Brooks Brothers having too many misses and maybe two hits). This void is felt most accutely in the Shaggy Dog department, which went up in price without offering any new colors from last season. It’s just lousy that even when offering steep markdowns on older items they can’t get enough money together to put out more new ones.

    But that grey flannel chalk-stripe suit? Man…

  12. When variances occur which defy all logical explanation, one must simply mutter “deus vult, deus vult” and putter on their way.

  13. Lawrence Mule' | August 29, 2015 at 1:11 pm |

    Getting away from Blazers fro a second, what is the update, if any, on J Press reopening the Manhattan store???

  14. Cranky Yankee | August 29, 2015 at 4:18 pm |

    To Lawrence Mule’: I was in the New Haven store in June. All I could get was that it won’t happen this year.

  15. I am certainly no expert on a true ivy shoulder, but the all the details on the Southwick at the top of the page look great to me. I need a flannel blazer. Any thoughts on lower priced alternatives? O’Connell’s has a doeskin, but no patch pockets, hook vent(?) and the shoulders aren’t as good to my eye.

  16. MLM: i like O’Connell’s, too–all the jackets and suits I have, I bought there. But you still need to be careful. For instance, the poplin suits all have far too much shoulder padding. (These are the made-in-Canada suits.)

    Mark: I have the doeskin jacket. The shoulders are perfect.

  17. NaturalShoulder | August 31, 2015 at 4:52 pm |

    Don – I agree with you on the shoulder padding on the poplin suits and returned one I ordered earlier this year for that reason. Otherwise, I have been very happy with O’Connells and, if forced to choose one retailer, it might be my choice.

  18. Don, Thanks for the input. O’Connell’s site lists the doeskin blazer as “Made in Canada or USA”. Do you know where your jacket was made? Given the other comments, I wonder if there is a difference worth considering.

  19. They fucked up a good thing and can’t get it back. Bastards

  20. They now suck worse than Brooks Brothers. Where is the new NYC store?? Coming soon, as their website says. I doubt it.

  21. J.Press opening in New York is all smoke and mirrors. They used that as a ploy not to pay severance pay to their employees. They told them they would have a job waiting for them in the new store if they didn’t cash out.

  22. Who owns J Press? Can someone wrest it away and get it back on track?

  23. Michael O'Connell | April 26, 2016 at 11:17 am |

    Just tried to return an item there only to be told that that was impossible. I’ve been shopping there since Reagan was President, but I’m done.

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