When the Spanish Flu struck a century ago, J. Press was already in business. It survived that pandemic, the Great Depression, two World Wars, and everything else — including constant changes in how men dress. And so despite the coronavirus, the company is releasing its Fall/Winter 2020 brochure right on time. Expect it to hit mailboxes next week, and in the meantime JP executive Robert “Squeeze” Squillaro has given Ivy Style an exclusive look at the brochure, behind-the-scenes photos taken around a New York City under lockdown, and the scoop on a collection that appeals across generations, just as the Ivy League Look always has.
* * *
IS: How in the world did you get this done?
RS: Considering all that has happened over the past six months, it was a challenge to say the least! Most everything was shut down at the time we would normally be shooting the book. Photo samples were stuck in factories, model agencies were not open, most of us were sheltered in place, but we pushed on.
So many brands and stores were cutting back, filing for bankruptcy or closing down entirely, but we want our customers to know that we are here and still offering all of the classic styles they look to us for. In fact while most retailers have drastically cut back their Fall selections, we actually expanded our assortment for Autumn/Winter.
IS: Where did you shoot?
RS: The brochure is shot entirely in New York City. The introduction written by Richard Press is titled “Back To New York.” Cities have been so decimated over the past six months (probably none more than New York), but as we hope to inch back to normalcy we need to return to all of the activities and places that our cities offer. You’ll see many throughout the brochure.
IS: Tell us about the clothes.
RS: The main section features our “Heritage” items: tweed sportcoats, suits, dress shirts, ties, and classic sportswear. All of the styles our customers enjoy: Harris Tweed, Donegal Mist, Irish Poplin Ties, OCBDs, English Corduroy (16 colors of trousers), cashmere sweaters, and of course our Shaggy Dog sweaters, which come in 20 colors in classic fit and another 8 in trim fit.
IS: Speaking of trim fit, how are you appealing to younger customers?
RS: The back section of the book has a bit of a different look. The heading is “The J. Press University Collection” and many of the pages feature our “University” products: Striped Shaggy Dog Sweaters, School Boy Mufflers, University Hoodies, and our new Shaggy Dog Hats. But it’s not just about the University items; it’s more about the styling. Instead of using a professional model, we photographed the garments on some of our employees and friends of the brand to give the spread a more natural flavor. Those familiar with our history know we originated as a campus brand and we want to highlight that while most students on campus today are not wearing head to toe Ivy, many of our classic items can be worn in different ways that still look great. In fact, you don’t have to be a college student to enjoy these looks.
IS: But you’re not abandoning your appeal to the, shall we say, less-than-young customer?
RS: Rest assured, while we expand our customer base by offering some trim-fit items and combining styles in ways that we have not shown before, by no means are we moving away from our traditional American Style and classic fits.
After several false starts over the past few years it looks like
J Press has returned to its’ traditional natural shoulder. Bravo!
Do they offer MTM these days?
Kudos to J. Press! I liked everything I saw. Traditional, understated, masculine, elegant, and a touch of prep with the collegiate collection.
Love the J. Press catalog. My wife even appreciates the great photographs, often dog-earring the pages she suggests I order from.
J. Press, if you’re reading this, my only request is that you release more trousers in a trim fit.
Very nice, however .. I feel loafers would have complimented the final photo far better.
That second tweed jacket is very similar to one my father used to wear in the 80s and 90s. I think he bought me a matching one….I’ll have to hunt it out…for when the world is open for business again.
Random thought: Will JPress and O’Connells benefit from BB’s demise?
Not so random, whiskeydent. I certainly hope the answer is yes!
In the photo of the gentleman wearing what I’ll call the bumblebee sweater, I assume the jacket is the classic fit, as his build is a little more mature?
Does one size up maybe a couple of sizes in order to do this? It looks good in the shoulder, but perhaps a little bit binding at his right elbow. Can jackets be altered a tad to accommodate this?
I think the answer is yes.
aside: I tried to place an order for custom shirts — online. Nothing. It went to this page and stopped. No options page, no order form.
It’s a shame that the J. Press York street store failed. They built out a beautiful store on Bleeker Street and it closed within (2-3years ) The kids don’t have the desire nor the money to dress this way. I Don’t think it’s a safe assumption that J Press can co exist with what is safe to say a reboot of York street within the same store. The traditional customer doesn’t want to mingle with that crowd. I see a lot of borrowed elements in this recent catalog(Ralph Rugby,Rowing blazers, Red Fleece, J crew) They all failed(excluding Rowing blazers) despite having a nice mix of tradition clothing BUT in a slim fit. It is interesting to see in the third picture THE featured model for several Freeman Sporting Club seasons working for J Press even if he is a friend of people who work there.
My copy of the Fall Brochure has not arrived yet, but the clothing above look great. I love the bow tie and sweater with that POW plaid sport coat, the shoulders on the brown tweed look particularly good, and seeing the sign of Theater District staple Tony’s in the background is nostalgic icing on the cake. I am now excited about the coming of cool weather and the accompanying tweeds, sweaters, flannels, etc. After a hiatus of roughly 10 years during which I bought very little new tailored clothing, I sprang for 2 J. Press seersucker suits this summer, and from the looks of things I may have to unchain the wallet again this fall.
This is a breath of fresh air after all of the (justified in my opinion) gloom and doom re Brooks after a multi-decade decline. As others have mentioned, the failure of BB can only bode well for Press and the other traditional clothiers. I wish them the very best of luck.
Against all odds indeed. Love it. Would you expect otherwise? Be still my heart ❤️
Truthfully, I do not see how anybody can make it here paying NYC commercial rents. This is just sheer madness! Empty stores everywhere, before the virus hit. Maybe online will somehow be the savior.
I love what Squeeze has done with J Press. The new catalog is really great.
Call me crazy, but the shoulders don’t look much different than last year’s, which were better than the year before but still too blocky for me to call them “natural”. Hard to tell from photos so I will have to see them in person before making a final judgment.
Like others have said, I hope J. Press and other traditional vendors benefit from what seems to be Brooks Brothers’ imminent demise.
Vern – online would be great, but for me if I open the J Press website the “help” dialogue box (zendesk) comes up, fills the whole screen and there is no way to get rid of it. I cannot shop online at J Press because of it…
It’s a shame that the Harvard Square J. Press closed.
Boston/Cambridge area men need all the sartorial help they can get. The irony about Harvard/MIT is that the more professional you appear, the less credible you are perceived. This is especially true for engineers. There was a Dilbert cartoon that addressed this.
J Press is the American equivalent of Cording’s in England. I am very impressed by the new brochure and the sack sports coats look superb. I dress in a similar style to the model on the fourth page but prefer a crew neck shetland with a saddle shoulder. I wish “Squeeze” every success in these difficult times.