The earliest years of J. Press were devoted principally to custom tailoring for those associated with Yale University. As graduates left New Haven for the boardrooms, drawing rooms, government and diplomatic venues of twentieth century America they represented the vanguard of what came to be known as “the J. Press look,” anecdotally accredited by the cognoscenti, “wearing Squeeze.”
After many years away from retail I am excited to be back on board as Archival Consultant at the home grounds. Plowing through decades of crusty old brochures, memories came flooding back some not even my own. My favorite is former Episcopal Bishop Paul Moore, Jr., a memoir of his 1930s college days, My Harvard, My Yale. He recalled the ever-present sight of my grandfather, Jacobi Press, “The local college tailor,” collaring Yalies on the sidewalk outside Mory’s dressed to the nines in his three-piece suit, watch chain and Derby hat. “Mr. Press had a small store on York Street and did more than anyone else to establish the Ivy look,” Moore writes.”His tweeds were a little softer and flashier than Brooks Brothers tweeds, his ties a littler brighter.” It’s déjà vu all over again.
After mass production created off the rack “ready-to-wear” suits in abundance after World War II, changes occurred that prompted extinction of many “custom tailor” clothiers. Jacobi Press, in concert with his sons Irving and my father Paul, accepted challenges that necessitated change in their retail process. Always deep in the trenches of campus and city traditional wear, my grandfather and “the Press boys” viewed ready-to-wear requirements as a mandate that required innovating and upgrading levels of quality inherent since my grandfather birthed his eponymous label in 1902. The Press family continued to inspire generations of dedicated coast-to-coast customers relentlessly following the Golden Rules of quality, service and personal attention. J. Press, during the 1950s Heyday of Ivy, was titled in national journals including LIFE magazine, “The Oracle Of Establishment Taste.” St. Grottlesex preppies, white shoe Ivy clubmen, Wall Street movers and shakers, three-martini Madison Avenue Madmen proudly donned their threads from Squeeze. J. Press recognizes revolutionary change that currently defines casual dress in the workplace and everyday wear. Squeeze disses norm-care in its New York, New Haven and Washington, DC stores engorging their racks and shelves with a world class inventory of business, sport and weekend wear for a discerning clientele.
J. Press leaves to others modified cowboy costumes, sweat suits and denim rags gaslighted in today’s multi-media digital culture. Engaging its 116th year, J. Press doggedly follows the motto my grandfather implanted on the windows of his York Street store, “Gentlemen’s Tailors, Clothiers and Furnishers Since 1902,”