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Threading the Needle: “Brush’em Until She Feels Like a Shaggy Dog”

Shortly after Irving Press was discharged from the US Army where he ran the PX store at Fort Ritchie, Maryland, my uncle was contacted by the Scottish head of a renowned two hundred year old Shetland Island sweater maker crossing the pond for his first post-World War II visit to the states. Eager to drum up business lost during the war years, his timing was serendipitous. Irving was looking for a new resource to compete with the popular Shetland sweater offered at Brooks Brothers and many other retailers. Immediately bonding with the CEO from the Shetland Islands and bolstered by a few Scotches, they racked their brains trying to figure how to differentiate the J. Press Shetland from others in Ivy-land.

“Maybe brush them until they have a fully different weight, look and feel,” my uncle suggested.

In his scratchy thorn proof brogue, the Scotsman erupted, “Ah sure now, brush’em until she feels like a Shaggy Dog.”

Soon as Irving got back to his New York office, he telephoned the J. Press lawyer ordering him, “Trademark Shaggy Dog.”

Three-quarters-of-a-century since Irving Press unearthed the supplier of hand-brushed virgin Shetland wool sweaters, they still bark on the J. Press shelves. Now made in a small village in the Shetland Isles, the product is not mass produced, but birthed with passion in a small staff friendly knitting mill. Although knitted by machine, the procedure calls for unstinting personal attention to handwork detail. The owner maintains a flock of Shetland Sheep close by the mill, a small, tough and hardy breed that covets a warm coat of wool to protect them during the harsh North Atlantic winter.

Not only does the hand-framed two-ply yarn provide a warm and shape-retaining garment, but the surface remains inordinately soft to the touch. Today the colors are more vibrant, but they continue to proclaim our trademark signature with no equal for coloring, loft and snug comfort—distinctively J. Press. Available in two fits, Classic and Trim, a cavalcade of twenty colors, featuring a selection of mélange tones, classic Lovats and a Merry-Go-Round of carnival brights. Try chewing the Bubble Gum Pink or munching on the Chocolate Brown!





Richard Press



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