“The Rise and Fall….and Rise Again of Ivy League Style” headlined Women’s Wear Daily Senior Men’s Editor Jean Palmieri’s report dissecting the panel discussion at Town Stages in Tribeca, hosted by shirt fabric mill Thomas Mason and Simon Crompton of the website Permanent Style.
Palmieri commented further, “It’s not often these days that you see a room full of men wearing Harris tweed blazers, button-down oxfords, repp ties and gray flannel slacks….Richard Press, whose family founded J. Press in 1902 on Yale’s campus said there’s also the issue of the long-term investment value of the clothes to consider.”
I shared the stage with Alan Flusser (menswear author, historian, and custom tailor), Nick Sullivan (creative director of Esquire Magazine), Sid Mashburn (iconic Atlanta based retailer) and Todd Snyder (fashion designer and retailer).
MR MAGAZINE, the industry’s hub for the latest breaking menswear news applauded the standing-room-only event. Here’s their take on yours truly:
“Richard Press talked about how his grandfather, from a shtetl in Latvia where he’d studied to be a rabbi, emigrated to the States, apprenticed with a tailor, and ultimately became a partner in a New Haven menswear business, would run around the Yale campus with swatches, knocking on every dormitory door. In 1944, the GI Bill of Rights brought hundreds of GIs in their Army khakis to New Haven. J. Press adapted these khaki trousers and featured them paired with their Donegal tweed sportcoats. In 1954, Life magazine did an issue on Ivy League fashion in the States, inspiring virtually every department store in America to add an Ivy League shop to their menswear floor.”
Not to be outdone, @ivy-style Trevor Jones gave the show a rave up ticking Ivy League Style’s enduring saga:
“Mr. Press noted the significance of GI’s coming back home after WWII and, thanks to the GI bill, attending Ivy League schools. Mixing their clothes with the styles of the kids at those colleges – kids typically coming from elite boarding schools – a whole new element was added to the look, and such integral items like khaki chinos were added into the mix. Before the show got started, I sat down with Press, who mentioned his grandfather Jacobi’s three golden rules, “Police the quality, render meticulous tailoring detail – so that each purchase represents a long-term investment – and also have realistic pricing.” Using J. Press as a beacon of the look, he was pleased that things are getting back their roots. “One of the reasons I’m back at J. Press is because they recognize the foundational ideals started by my grandfather.”
I am certain readers will understand paternal pride vis-à-vis Mr. Jones’ recognition of my daughter’s audience participation. He reported the talk concluded with a Q and A segment from the audience. “Many knowledgeable questions were asked but the question that brought the house down was from Mr. Press’ daughter who exclaimed,
“I have never seen so many gorgeously dressed men in one room. You look so much better when you make an effort,”
I am so disappointed that the Cambridge store has closed. I have been a customer since college days and wear the same darn stuff I wore forty years ago! Brooks Brothers, J. Press, The Andover Shop… are still around thankfully.
The Greatest Generation knew how to wear starched khakis in civilian life. That lesson was unfortunately challenged when denim took over the campus in the late ’60s, even at Yale!
This is, in my opinion, one of the best of Richard Press’ stories and I have read them all. Keep them coming.
I have spent the passed thirty years building an iconic J Press wardrobe from the New York (old 44th St) and New Haven Shops. I am pleased to tell that some of my sportscoats date back to my first purchase and I wear them regularly; all three button sack which are now only available at J Press (as far I’m concerned). I travel a great deal and I will add that it is gratifying how so many people (men and women alike) comment on my appearance. I never board an airplane without my Presidential, three button, navy blazer or a Harris Tweed sport coat. Thank you for being steadfast.
I started buying clothes from J Press while an undergraduate in the 1960’s. I have been wearing these clothes and others more recently purchased up to the present. I believe I currently have sport jackets and pants, shirts and ties, scarves, coats, etc. .purchased more than 50 years ago that is still wearable (with a few alterations), stylish and fabulous looking.
I recall an incident in the late 60’s or early 70’s when I purchased a couple of oxford cloth button down shirts from Marty in the New Haven store. When I put them on, they were much too large even though I had purchased many such shirts in the past. I folded them up, returned them to Marty. He measured the collar, told me I was correct; they had been incorrectly labeled, and brought me two new ones. When I handed him the never worn mislabeled shirts, he returned them to me saying: “you are a valued customer. You can wear them under a sweater, enjoy them” suffice to say I have never forgotten that story, and will never forget Marty and Gabe who were both salesmen at the time
Of course a little effort goes a long way. The Ivy Style is a classic American way of dressing and like the ramparts of a fort under siege, it holds up despite the slob look so prevalent today. Continued success with this sartorial renaissance underway and a Big Thank You to the J. Press Family for leading it.