J. Press x Frances Valentine and a J. Press Event

I don’t know what the secret to a good collaboration is.  But I know a guy who does.  Robert Squillaro is the Chief Merchandising Officer for J. Press, and has been key in the last several successful J. Press collaborations.  This time out,  Squillaro and Press are working with Frances Valentine, and if it is after 10:00 in the morning today my time, you can see their work here.  

Collaborations work when they enhance a brand, they don’t work when they dilute it.   We have seen some fashion collaborations that look like test tube accidents, but J. Press has been unerring in their sense of balance.  I asked Mr. Squillaro if they were ramping up this program in light of this success, and he indicated that while they do receive a lot of requests, they “try to limit them to one or two per season.”   Which is also smart.

This brand stewardship was not lost on Frances Valentine.

“We are thrilled to be working with J. Press on this collaboration for Spring, which marks our first-ever men’s styles,” stated Frances Valentine CEO and Founder, Elyce Arons. “J. Press is the perfect menswear partner for Frances Valentine with its quality tailoring, focus on craftsmanship and its storied brand history.”

 

From the J. Press x Frances Valentine Collaboration

I was also very interested in how these collaborations work.   “Each one is unique, but always both brands have to agree on the products,” Mr. Squillaro said.  “Mostly we try to work with other brands that we think will put a fun twist on both brands, but occasionally we partner with someone that just seems like a natural fit for both of us,” he continued.  “We hope that some of the collaborations will bring in new customers to check out the merchandise we carry, but also for our existing customers to try something that might be a little outside of their regular wardrobe style. For example, with our current collaboration with Frances Valentine we surrounded the signature floral print merchandise with shirts and shorts made with more traditional J. Press fabrics – madras and solid twills – but in vibrant colors to work back to the floral prints.”

 

More from the collaboration.

Trying pretty much anything brings… feedback (don’t I know it).   I asked about that aspect.

“Much of the feedback has been interesting from both customers and the marketplace. Most has been very positive with other brands being impressed with our commitment to manufacturing in the USA, Canada and the UK as much as possible. Of course when we do something with a brand or product outside of our norm we occasionally get comments from our traditional customers insinuating that all is lost and we’ll never be the same again,” Squilarro concluded,  “Our strategy is to continue to broaden our customer base and product offering, but never to abandon the classic style and products that we feel defines our identity as a brand. As far as design capacity goes, we never design just for the sake of designing. We believe that many things are timeless for a reason and do not need to be constantly reinvented. Maybe just a tweak here and there.”

More on this later, but here, if you are available, this has three of our favorite companies in the same place at the same time twice, and looks to be a great evening.

Do RSVP. There is limited space and this looks to be a good one.

 

 

 

22 Comments on "J. Press x Frances Valentine and a J. Press Event"

  1. Some really handsome Madras patterns there. I would probably opt for khaki shorts myself and instead pair the Nantucket reds with a navy or black pique knit short-sleeved polo shirt. But that’s just me.

    Kind Regards,

    H-U

  2. “…broaden our customer base…”

    Careful, now. Careful. Caution. Don’t let the CFO’s run the show. More isn’t necessarily more, and

    This isn’t my thing (at all), and, seen from a certain perspective (not altogether fogey-ish), it hits a mark while missing another. I would’ve loved:

    a. an expansion of Magee sport jacket offerings including bespoke one-off silk-linen (now that they own Robert Noble, yes?);
    b. an expansion of the New England Shirt Co. offerings, including the flap pocket OCBD in blue end-on-end, hairline stripes, and lighter weight oxford cloth;
    c. an expansion/elabaortion upon the Hertling inventory (please return to Hertling for pants) including some heathered linen and chambray.

    The list goes on. I can be J. Press’ biggest fan, but we’ve all seen what happens when the watch dogs stop watching. Pay attention, Onward.

    I’m sure this stuff will sell fine, but at what cost. Heeding the more relaxed direction, a rejuvenation of Batik would have been a lot more interesting– equally garish, but more interesting.

  3. * to complete that first thought: more isn’t necessarily more, and the corner of the office that (who) insist that “the more customers, the better” almost always turn out to be the source of ruin. Even ‘corporate turnaround’ types (dear god–please go and raise $ and start your own business) will admit as much.

    As an embedded CEO for 8 different turnarounds, I feel compelled to defend the type. When you raise money to start a business, you are starting two businesses. What you do, and debt service. Guess which one is less forgiving? Saving a job is as morally important as making one. There are very few businesses where more customers are not better. Oncologists. There. But other than that… use caution not to confuse expansion with dilution. Something becoming more popular does not mean it becomes less pure or effective. Health care. Meditation. Dave Matthews Band. It is almost always bad advice to go out and raise money to start your own business unless you have to. – JB

  4. Oh and this:
    a collaboration with Alden– a revival of the old BB stand-by, the unlined shell cordovan Leisure Handsewn Moc, now that it’s gone with the wind. Maybe with heel foxing unique to Squeeze.

    Enough with the designer collaborations. Work direct with manufacturers and innovate within the parameters of (the) tradition.

  5. Those great Liberty of London-looking floral pants aside, whenever a clothing merchandising / marketing person uses the word “twist”, brace yourself.

  6. William Stephenson | May 3, 2022 at 9:48 am | Reply

    Still don’t understand why Press thinks that jackets too short look good. Remember how it was to have to wear a blazer when growing up that I had outgrown, for one more year.

  7. whiskeydent | May 3, 2022 at 10:17 am | Reply

    I think y’all should consider un-twisting your knickers. If you go back and carefully read what Squilarro said, I think you’ll see he is taking a careful approach to collaborations. Also consider that JPress has now done several of these things without abandoning their core style. If anything, they’ve gotten stronger during the last couple of years.

  8. I don’t disagree with this. The return of quality to shirts (especially oxfords) and a few other items is obvious and noted. I’ll be glad to speak a liturgy of praise when-and-where it’s merited.

  9. Michael Byc | May 3, 2022 at 11:06 am | Reply

    Logged in at 10AM and the floral Prospect pants were sold out in everything but 38 and 34. Called the NYC shop and Robert said they had not received any and it looked as if they were all sold during pre-order (which I wasn’t aware of). Added myself to the list if a restock is imminent.

  10. Frederick J Johnson | May 3, 2022 at 11:12 am | Reply

    I have never been a fan or wearer of madras and the flowerily stuff leaves me cold. fine for some others I guess but I, like Heinz, will stick to the basics while they are still available.

  11. I would like to see a terrycloth one piece similar to the one Sean Connery wore poolside speaking to Felix Lighter in Goldfinger.

  12. @William Stephenson,

    “…Press thinks that jackets too short look good.” I do not believe J. Press thinks thus. I believe J. Press thinks that everybody else thinks thus, because “that’s what they’re doing now”. So tight in the chest that the lapels pucker, high gorge, open quarters/skirts, an “X” shape exposing the fly, etc. When stupid becomes conventional wisdom. Inertia = retail sales. Part of the problem is that moms, wives, and girlfriends read all the wrong fashion blogs, and dress their men accordingly.

  13. “There are very few businesses where more customers are not better.”

    There are as many business models as there are business school alums, and this may be (likely is) where we disagree. Expansion can easily lead to dilution, and there are plenty–yes, plenty–of situations when/where a smaller (“narrower”) customer/client base is much (in some cases, MUCH) better for the (quality of) the product and/or service. Board members, investors, and the execs they hire see dollar signs, while the informed customer remains focused on the product. When my grandfather complained about the changes at a certain men’s store in Charleston, SC forty years ago, he was right; when the owners insisted they had to make the changes in order to appeal to Yuppies, they were right.

    J. Press is at a crossroads. Has been for a while. Since none of the I-S posters have a financial stake (well, I don’t), we can speak freely (and cordially, I hope) about this. We have no clear sense of how profitable J. Press is for Onward — how necessary J. Press’ existence is to Onward’s success, financial or otherwise. There have been some improvements (the current OCBD by New England Shirt Co. is top drawer), but anyone who’s really into the Old J. Press vibe can (and would) go elsewhere for:

    1. pants (Hertling: direct to customer)
    2. shirts (Mercer & Sons: direct to customer)
    3. Alden shoes (too many retailers to count)
    4. suits and sport jackets: HF’s RTC (Southwick reincarnated)
    4. socks, neckwear, accessories: the list is way too long…

    And so on. “Added value” is a clumsy and overused word in corporate life, but it work in this instance. What is J. Press’ added value to the Ivy/Preppy/Trad corner of the market. My point is that there’s a lot of room for the sort of creative innovation that would elevate the quality/uniqueness of the goods (and, with that, the brand) to new levels.

    Floral printed shorts will not.

    I agree that expansion CAN lead to dilution, I do posit however that it does not necessarily do so. Consider: quality requires some volume. Without the revenue generation that volume brings, quality may very well be unattainable. No one buys quality khakis for $10,000, but were it not for volume, they might very well have to. There is no firm tipping point, either. Think technology. It is indisputable that the quality of technology has increased in accordance with its distribution, to the point where your iphone is more powerful that the Apollo blah blah blah. Technology is a fantastic example of how volume makes quality accessible and in fact allows quality in the first place. Yes, 20 years ago there were probably in a basement in Arizona a 15,000 square foot facility that housed a series of computers that can do what your iphone does now. Then, you and everybody else bought an iphone, and that volume drove innovation which increased quality. And that’s just one example. – JB

  14. Hardbopper | May 3, 2022 at 1:31 pm | Reply

    @Lainey et al.,

    You are, I’m sure, a somewhat rare exception to my previous rant. And I did not mean to insinuate that Ivy-Style is a “fashion blog”.

    I presume that by now everyone knows where I stand.

    I can appreciate “floral print[s] and shorts made with more traditional J. Press fabrics…in vibrant colors”, although the sleeves might be a little tight for me, and I’m not sure a button down collar should be requisite.

  15. Minimalist Trad | May 3, 2022 at 2:52 pm | Reply

    Thank goodness, piqué polo shirts in navy, and khaki shorts are readily available from many sources.

  16. The floral print pants remind me of the Pulitzer slacks for men that my girlfriend tried to get me to wear back in the early 80’s. We did not last as a couple in part, I believe, was my abject refusal to look like a floral arrangement. I do like madras, though.

  17. Ricky Roma | May 3, 2022 at 4:36 pm | Reply

    Minimalist Trad

    Rem acu tetigisti.

  18. Expat Yank | May 3, 2022 at 7:40 pm | Reply

    Good for the both for experimenting. While the florals aren’t for me, I’d think they’d turn the heads of some in the madras crowd. Also, the blue, green and other colored shorts would play well in the South.

    However, I do foresee the Prospect Park Print trousers making their way to a warehouse sale in the near future.

  19. RICKY ROMA | May 3, 2022 at 7:42 pm | Reply

    Bruno

    Nor should you have

  20. Minimalist Trad | May 4, 2022 at 5:33 am | Reply

    @Ricky Roma:

    Gratiās tibi agō.

  21. Bill Stephenson | May 4, 2022 at 8:16 am | Reply

    @ Hardbopper. You nailed it precisely! Long time Press customer. However, too small stuff caused me to have to go to Oxford to get 3/2 that looks exactly like old BB 346. You also make the incredibly correct point that women know how to dress children, but not grown men who don’t want to get caught up in the latest fashion disasters. Cheers, Bill

  22. AndrewK247 | May 4, 2022 at 9:32 pm | Reply

    When women try to dress their men, not all but too many try to be too “creative”, not realizing that a more plain approach works best on most men.

    Friend of mine works downtown, his shirt/tie combinations are way out there. But everyone knows that he loves his wife so no one makes fun of it. We don’t even discuss it, but the initial reactions followed by quickly catching themselves and acting normal reveal the unspoken understanding.

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