The saga of The J. Press Brochure brings to mind a winter afternoon in the early 1960s when my boss (and Uncle), Irving Press, was busy studying the new brochure in his corner lair by the custom department at the fabled Heyday shop on 16 East 44th Street. While alerting me to sophistries of his craft, we were greeted by David Ogilvy taking leave of his custom suit fitting with legendary tailor Felix Samelson. Pinned into his chalked and basted three-piece Donegal Tweed suit, Irving gave him a thumb’s up.
My uncle immediately proffered Ogilvy the brochure proofs, an act that might otherwise have been considered pure chutzpah since Ogilvy’s firm was never hired to produce a J. Press brochure. Catalogues at the time were home produced by the company. David Ogilvy, universally admired advertising tycoon, often shared fashion gossip with my uncle sharing J. Press customer repartée as if to a friend. Ogilvy studied the proofs admonishing my uncle. “Irving, don’t change a thing. You are precisely following my maxim, “The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.”
The original 1950s era catalogues depicted merchandise displayed on bare bone manikins set up in the back room of Kravitz’ Wedding Portrait Studio on Chapel Street in New Haven. The original catalogue format changed in 1990 adding live models and location shots at local businessman’s Quinnipiac Club just off the Yale Campus. The fashion models were chosen not unlike what today’s annoying TV cliché ad, “not models but actual customers.” Ours were models, but you couldn’t tell them apart from real live customers.
More than a half century after the Ogilvy meeting, the 2019 J. Press Fall & Winter Brochure honor his philosophy. Changing Times require New Rules—exhaustive product copy detail have given way to meticulously prepared advanced digital photography together with familiar scenes favored by our customer profile audience.
A long way from David Ogilvy.