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.
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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.