Context: I had the chance to speak to Mr. Robert Squillaro, who is the Senior Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer of J. Press about this project, which is a collaboration between Todd Snyder (if you don’t know who Todd Snyder is, he is a VERY NYC designer, successful for sure, launched his own brand and sold it to American Eagle Outfitters in 2015) and J. Press, in August. Projects like this aren’t conceived on Tuesday – pitched on Wednesday – approved on Thursday and in stores next Monday. We were talking about his role as a steward of one of American fashion’s foremost brands, and how this got started. Squillaro told me that they were approached by Todd Snyder to enter into a collaboration.
And I see why. This is a really interesting venture, enhanced by the timing, which no one could have thought of back then. Press is, well, you know what Press is. So if one were going to tackle a hybrid of NYC design and Ivy and one needed the essential ingredients, one would certainly shop J. Press. Good pitch, Mr. Snyder. Good on you for saying yes, Mr. Squillaro.
“Todd approached us with the idea and we thought it would be a lot of fun,” Squillaro said.
Fun? In Ivy? Yes.
“The process was very enjoyable,” Mr. Squillaro continued. “Todd asked us for some old catalogs and his team them took it from there and submitted products for us to take a look at. We wanted to give him creative latitude for sure. There is no reason to work with a designer of Todd’s caliber and not let him do his thing. But we wanted to make sure that we communicated the essence of the Press brand and the Ivy genre, so while he and we played around with color and other things, we had guardrails such as silhouette and fabric to ensure we were in the middle lane.”
“The collection is called Retake Ivy,” he continued. “Inspired of course to a large degree by Take Ivy, which we also draw from continually. J. Press is about maintaining and very slowly evolving the styles that everyone is wearing and that everyone wants to wear.”
I then got a few emails from the Todd Snyder people, also VERY nice. From their press release: “The Todd Snyder x J. Press collaboration consists for 48 items. These include fresh takes on the Sack Suit, the Boxy Chino, the Duffle Coat, the Harris tweed blazer, the Oxford shirt, and the Shaggy Dog…”
So let’s dig in then.
The collection is an invitation, in my mind, to a new Ivy customer. Which I am so down for. There are some items in the collection that I would not wear, but then again, I am not necessarily the target. There are also items I would wear RIGHT NOW, and that is why I like the work. There is enough innovation here to interest someone in trying the aesthetic, and enough trad in here to keep my eyes forward.
A few examples of what I am talking about.
Or this jacket, which I previewed yesterday on the FB group and which got a tremendous reception:
For that matter, here’s another jacket that’s a gimme.
I am a little religious about the OCBD. But if I weren’t, if I were modifying it to speak to a different audience, I might very well do this. Yes, it is buying something frayed. They look better frayed. And if you are new to them, this solves your problem.
They do a great job in the marketing of putting these elements together in ensembles. There are some pure J. Press elements (all the ties, for example) worn with some elements of the collection. Here is another slam dunk for me:
If you put together 48 items and shoot them, you are gonna misstep too. If it is of the appropriate temperature to wear a wool suit, it is of the appropriate temperature to wear socks. And this is coming from me. Mr. No-Sock. Well, Dr. No-Sock if you want to get technical. I am not sure why this ensemble made it through, it is that kind of catalog-disconnect (the thing that happens when you are shown something in a catalog that just doesn’t work in real life) that puts people off of the invitation. Here:
Plenty of trad to go around though. These pants:
Or this jacket:
Now THIS outfit, if you would PLEASE LOSE the Yankee cap (Go Sox, again) sits right on top of the fulcrum between invitation and canon.
And finally, my vote for the headline. This ensemble has all the right elements, a carrot for the invitation, and socks I can live with. Cardigan, check. OCBD and Press knit tie, check and check. Jeans (we’ve already voted so please) check. Bit loafers (wait til I show you bit loafers tomorrow, man, I was not a huge fan until these, but that is tomorrow, and now I am a huge fan) check.
I wrote yesterday in the FB group that it is Ivy Style, not Ivy Uniform, but I do have to say this: the Press/Snyder effort does a much better job of door opening and tradition preserving than the Brooks first outing earlier this year, and they are to be applauded for the creativity and for staying on top of the balance beam the whole time.