In 1959 my best friend and I traversed the European scene following our college graduation. It was the first time the Soviet Union allowed Americans to travel by car throughout the domain, albeit, accompanied by an Intourist 2nd tier spy. We met our Soviet informer at the Brest-Litovsk border continuing on Napoleon’s route to Moscow exiting via Leningrad leaving the Iron Curtain for Helsinki. We also bribed our undercover spy to steer us to attractive Russian women by getting him plastered every night with Intourist dinner coupons purchased on the cheap, serving him generous portions of caviar washed down with ample amounts of vodka. Evidence of the kompromat remains secreted in NKVD-Kremlin files.
The streets of Mother Russia teemed with hordes of Communist proles in denim rags, tattered shirts and battered outerwear. Unfortunately, the American folkways today remind me of 1959 Leningrad. Airports, malls, and sidewalks filled with people wearing junk sewn by 9-year-old kids in third world sweat shops. The normcore goes upscale ennobled by an emblematic polo player or some other logo.
Perhaps memory of the one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot awaits imminent revival. Iconic American menswear still identifies with the joyous camaraderie of touch football at the Kennedy family Hyannis Port compound, however staged it may have been. The fabled era of triumph and tragedy found its clothing moment on 44th Street with so many of its principal players suiting up at Squeeze along with other stalwarts in the Mad Men hood.
J. Press reweaves the yarn featuring iconic threads of American Style currently sitting dormant in the digital portals of public chic. Tweeds, herringbones, blue blazers, corduroys, Shaggy Dog sweaters, Repp and challis ties—the whole shebang remains an intergenerational touchstone at J. Press. Our 2019 Fall & Winter Brochure bears testimony to that storied past.
Come Home America! The Soviet Union is extinct. Dasvedania. How about purging its American facsimile with a return to Real American Style.
J. Press has the goods.
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These comments offer keen observations. But, as Richard Press suggests, the iconic American style for which J. Press is known was evident before JFK’s inauguration, including among the young professionals and government administrators who “liked Ike.” Curiously, “Come Home, America,” was also U.S. Sen. George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign slogan. Before being elected to Congress, McGovern was a U.S. history professor. Perhaps he, too, was a J. Press customer.
In September 1968 after 14 months in the U.S. Army in Korea, I returned to civilian life in New York. Gay now meant homosexual rather than happy. Suits on and off Fifth Avenue now usually had shoulder pads, which I discovered after buying one at Lord & Taylor. I discovered Ken Trommers at J. Press on East 44th Street, where I had never shopped before. Suits had natural shoulders and were very well made. Shirts had the button on the back of the collar so that the tie would not show beneath the collar and the locker loop in back allowed hanging the shirt on a peg in a locker when changing into attire for sports and having the shirt look good when putting it on again. The shirt’s pocket flap with button allowed bending over without something falling out of the pocket. The great look and practicality of the suits and shirts continues at J. Press. May it continue!
You wrote, “Airports, malls, and sidewalks filled with people wearing junk sewn by 9-year-old kids in third world sweat shops.” The tragedy is that this same dress flourishes in the many halls of corporate America as well as in our public sector. I do not yield to the masses of slovenly dress and continue on adhering to classic American and British menswear in both professional and casual settings.
I am willing to pay a bribe to the local commissar of your choice in order to obtain an illegal copy of this years brochure-look book……….
I love Richard’s stories of the past!
A much needed and long overdue entreaty.
Amen & Amen