In 2011, long before the COVID pandemic, a doctor’s association in New York supported banning neckties for doctors after a study revealed that the dangling strips of silk can transmit bacteria leading to infection. This would have been devastating news during the Heyday of Ivy Style in the 1950s and beyond when J. Press sold countless caduceus ties in school colors for the Yale, Harvard, and Columbia med school fans. One of our celebrity patrons included New Haven resident and Yale alumnus Dr. Benjamin Spock.
In 1968 more than 10,000 ties were randomly packed in corrugated boxes strewn about the shipping room on the mezzanine of our 44th Street store. Every morning the downstairs crew grabbed handfuls tossing them onto the tie counters surrounding the center stairwell.
They were never imprisoned in glass showcases. Jacquard Macclesfields began the merry followed by Repp stripes, Wool Challis, Ancient Madders, Silk Knits and seasonally appropriate bleeding India Madras. Irving Press, my uncle and boss, habitually strode around the counters messing them up, making them an irresistible petting zoo for customers to stroke, finger and feel.
Grasshopper was our signature emblematic tie in our New Haven campus store. The slim 3” navy ground was emblazoned by thick yellow insects. Gossip on York Street spread the tale of a Smith girl asking her Yalie date if the tie he was wearing signified membership in a club. He responded he was “tapped” by Grasshopper.
The emblematic tie ensemble provided either a jungle or barnyard of pigs, geese, wild turkeys, mallard ducks, tigers, elephants, bulldogs and horses. Adjoining was a silk locker room of squash rackets, golf clubs, and lacrosse sticks. Wall Street was not to be denied a bull and bear. And let’s not leave out beer mugs and martini glasses.
How will it out in the new Year? J. Squeeze dreams the impossible dream of a post-COVID necktie revival. We placed our bet with a full presentation of past favorites, still on top of the counter to touch and feel.
I tie my tie, you tie your tie