Perusing through the myriad of interviews I participated in over the past several years, I came across one I had forgotten about with “Jack” at the unlikely (for me) wristwatch website @tempusfugit. Here’s some gobs:
Personal style is, at least in my experience, a personal journey. And one man has been there, often behind the scenes, helping tens of thousands of men around the world navigate the rocky shoals that separate fashion from style. His name is Richard Press –
Tempus Fugit – What was your first watch? Was it a gift? Is there a story behind it?
Richard Press – I had an uncle who was the eastern sales representative for Benrus Watches. Owing to this, just as every male in the immediate family had to wear J. Press, they also had to wear their Benrus watch. Me included. This Benrus connection lasted maybe thirty years, and ended when I lost it in the gym.
TF – If I understand it correctly, you grew up in New Haven, CT?
RP – I grew up in New Haven, although I actually left at age 14 for four years to attend Loomis Chaffee boarding school in Windsor, CT. This was followed by four more years at Dartmouth College.
TF – When you were a boy, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
RP – I always wanted to follow the blood lines at J.Press.
JH – After growing up in New Haven, you attended Dartmouth College, graduating (I believe) in 1959. What did you study?
RP – My favorite subjects were Comparative Literature, European and American History.
JH – It seems you were destined to join J. Press, but you did not remain in New Haven, what is it that took you to New York?
RP – All due respects to my New Haven residing father and late grandfather, my love of theatre, night clubs, living the high life, and the New York Yankees made New York a natural.
JH – I have been led to understand that you were something of a fixture in the New York theatre scene, performing in several off-Broadway productions. What was your favorite role?
RP – My favorite role was Uncle Oscar in a now forgotten off-Broadway musical portraying a lascivious cad belting out “Think Of Me As A Kind And Loving Uncle” with a half dozen lovelies on my lap.
JH – J. Press was sold to Kashiyama in 1986, and you worked with them for a bit before moving on to another company. And now you are back with the fantastic Threading the Needle Blog! How did that come about?
RP – I was a featured columnist knocking off over fifty columns for the blog Ivy Style when J. Press asked me to host a NY store event. I brought down the house and they proceeded to bring me on as “Archival” Consultant, columnist, author, MC at store events, brochure introduction writer and hanger on.
JH – An honest truth – the majority of men who are very into watches seem to burn up all of their style and creativity calories on their time machines, often dressing either as fashion victims or college kids just after exams finish. I have my own answer, but I want your take –
Why is a personal sense of style important?
RP – To publicly enhance whatever talent you may possess.
JH – In many ways the growth and evolution of J. Press from preppy icon to global label happened under your stewardship. Any advice for the aspiring entrepreneurial manager out there?
RP – Work hard, don’t give up the ship when it rocks, learn all aspects of the business, especially the requirements of your targeted customers.
Always a pleasure to revisit your adventures some of which I was fortunate enough to share.
Keep it up old pal.
My first watch was a RYTIME imported from Switzerland by the Fairfax Watch Company in Washington, DC. It was an unintended return gift to myself and I wore it throughout high school.