On Tuesday Jon Caramanica of the New York Times wrote a piece on J. Press’ York Street store. Here’s our play-by-play.
Caramanica starts by suggesting that the Ivy/prep revival of the past several years “became not just a look, but a form of commentary.”
On what he doesn’t say. Next, orthodox trads who can’t stand the playskool colors of prepdom will be puzzled by the suggestion that recent preppy clothes haven’t been vibrant enough:
Yet too often the clothes that came from this movement lacked the radical chic of real-life prep fashion — none of the vibrant, lightning-bright color choices; none of the eyebrow-raising patterns; none of the insouciance of a wearer who directly correlates income level with risk-taking. Prep never apologized. Just ask all the less-privileged people underfoot.
As a New York reporter, Caramanica evidently has his dial set to the irony frequency and expects a loud and clear signal wherever he goes, which is certainly understandable:
The wink, such as there is one, begins in the front window, where a human mannequin had a neon-tube tie and a dog mannequin had neon-tube glasses. Watch out, rebellion within — right?
Whimsy! Subversion! Downtown! The 1980s! These references could undo prep, or invigorate it with a sense of the now. But the Ovadia boys, Ariel and Shimon, put more care into their own line than into this one, which shrugs more than it winks.
York Street items, he finds, “scan as underwhelming knockoffs, not brand extensions.” No argument from most of you on that, I suspect.
I found this line funny, though more in a tragi-comic sense:
.. the designers were still figuring out the line’s fit, a salesclerk told me
The story’s final takeaway is this:
Make Ivy This is the long tail of the prep revival, a faint outline of the original thing. The store aspires to recall an old Ivy League clubhouse, but feels like a facsimile you could make at home with a 3D printer.
Fake Ivy The clothes are reasonably priced, by J. Press standards, and they’re more muted than you would expect.
Take Ivy When J. Press leans on staples, it succeeds: any younger customer interested in the brand isn’t craving a watered-down version of it, maybe just a slimmer-fitting one.
And my final remark? Booklynites like York Street’s designers might do irony, but the Japanese don’t. — CC
White Eastland loafers for $430.00? That must be a typo….
What a mess.
York Street will succeed where Rugby has failed, ok, probably not.
York Street appears to be aimed at the same demographic group as Black Fleece (Brooks Brothers,) Denim & Supply (Ralph Lauren,) and Canvas (Lands’ End): monied Millennial metrosexuals. Fashion-forward Generation Y’ers who don’t think twice about spending $115 for polos, $145 for sweat pants (with knee pads,) or $98 for scarves.
It’s nice to have these kind of stores. I personally don’t want anything from York Street, but that’s not the point. It’s for younger guys who will eventually evolve to traditional J.Press or traditional Cable Car, etc. I don’t know why anybody would buy a York Street blazer when you can’t get a Norman Hilton blazer, but whatever….
I visited York Street store this past week & did not find it particularly interesting. The former Rugby Stores on Bleecker & University Place were much more interesting, particularly the smaller dimensioned Rugby bow ties. York St mdse that is similar to JPress mdse was interesting but priced much higher than JPress. Also visited JPress on Madison but I only enjoy the window displays there and do not enjoy the shopping experience
“When J. Press leans on staples, it succeeds: any younger customer interested in the brand isn’t craving a watered-down version of it, maybe just a slimmer-fitting one.”
That sounds about right.
I had a conversation a few weeks ago with a couple sales guys at JP, and said more or less the same thing. Just make the current stuff a tad hipper. Personally I’d just like a narrow lapel; I’m OK with the sillhouette.
I couldn’t agree more with Christian’s comment about the stuck-in-the-70s lapel widths at J. Press. I have a J. Press blazer from my Dad from the early-to-mid-60s and it still has wide lapels. Maybe not as wide as circa 1978, but way wider than what was then the rage.
BTW, does anybody remember J. Press’s foray into “hip” with Urban Outfitters a few years ago? I guess they were warming up. The ties were the best offerning at $29…high quality silk twill and made to last. Apparently, the down-market hoodie-wearing customer that normally frequents UO was too clueless or too hip for it. Most of it was remaindered for $9.99. I bought all the ties, some great gray flannels in a practical wool/nylon blend, and a great pair of chino shorts with orange peace signs embroidered on them. Awesome!
Why not the same exact/basic stuff, but in a trimmer version. When the buyers of this stuff eventually fill out like us, the transition to the full cut products will be a natural!
Have to second the request for J Press to make slimmer clothes – I’m 5’10” and about 160 – I look like a clown in most “trad” fits. Also wish trad purists would quit mocking those of who’ve managed (by grace or by effort) to stay relatively thin as we age …
Trad fits allow one to look like a gentleman rather than a gigolo. Looking like a clown is a matter of wearing the playskool colors favored by adherents to the “preppy” look.
If I may rephrase MRS’s point, as waist sizes have grown since the advent of the “trad” look so have the clothes grown in proportion to these new physiques. And the trad fits have also incorporated more generous silhouettes. Up through the 70s men were much slimmer and today’s average man would have been considered portly. Even as recently as the 80s there were Husky’s jeans for overweight children, I would imagine these would probably fit the average kid now.
So I don’t think “slim” needs to be synonymous with low rise, high button stance, and short jacket, short shirt tails, and tiny collar points. Rather, if BB, J Press etc made a few clothes using the patterns from the 60s and 70s (obviously minus the extremeitterations of narrow lapels or flared trousers) those of us with a fitter (i.e. pre-80s proportions) height to weight ratio would look great and not like “clowns” so to speak.
At 5’7″ and 135lbs all my vintage 36S pieces fit great, but I have to undertake far more tailoring with newer clothes. I have OTR pants from the 60s with a 10″ rise, 7.5″ hem, and 32″ waist with buttoned side-adjusters – it would be impossible to find anything close to that now. Some companies don’t even make a 36S anymore. Luckily CC hipped me to the O’Connell’s flannels a few days ago and they are the closest thing to a traditional trouser (I’ll still need tapering however but that part is easy).
Get a great tailor or look in to Corbin clothing. Corbin pants were a mainstay in most trad shops from the 50s. I believe they are back in business with their pants and suits. While their Stover model pant is is probably what most of us “old timers” remember, they now make slimmer models.
Their suits are usually 2 button, darts with not a overly padded shoulder. I’m not sure if they make the 3-2 roll Corinthian models anymore.
I often wonder how many trad grads wore Corbin to their first job interviews and as young professionals.
Size 40R jacket and size 34 trousers were the standard sizes in the 1960s and they were no different from 40 and 34 today.
Well it’s “Preppy” not “Ivy.” Why not let the youth wear their youth instead of being shackled to the style of a 60 year old headmaster.
I’m in my mid-20s and I have been a Press customer for years. I have yet to go the York Street store, but I’m slightly skeptical. Look I like slim fit, but I’m not going to pay more money for less fabric. I realize the tailoring may be more difficult on suits, but a slimmer tie for more money – you ain’t fooling me.