A recent blog post in the revitalized @ivy-style under the direction of Bedford, NY digital entrepreneur John Burton heralded the J. Press Oxford Dress Shirt—The Fundamental Staple.
The long journey to achieve this accolade started shortly before World War I when my grandfather, the eponymous Jacobi Press engaged in button down competition with non-New Haven competitor Brooks Brothers. John Brooks innovated his own version of the effervescent shirt favored by the British polo players he spotted as a fan on frequent buying trips to England at the turn of the twentieth century.
J. Press featured equivalent versions duly made in England under the auspices of furnishings and haberdashery supplier Welch Margetson. In the 1930s as the winds of war diminished British sourcing, Grandpa turned to his pal Bernie Gantmacher who owned a shirt and pajama factory in New Haven since the 1920s. Bernie produced a reasonable facsimile and as a favor Grandpa gave his sons Elliot and Marty a job in the stock room prior to their induction into the US Army. While packing the ties, shirts and arranging the haberdashery in the York Street store, the Gantmacher boys inhaled the scent of Ivy, and the rest is history. They shortened their own name and the name of the business forming Gant Shirtmakers in 1949.
Meanwhile the Press boys, Paul and Irving, uncomfortable sharing a national brand searched out a private resource. Irving Press ran the Fort Ritchie PX store during World War II. Ralph Trishon who ran a shirt factory with his brother in Norristown, PA supplied Army officer dress shirts for Irving’s army base post exchange. My uncle admired the quality and fit of the “Tyson Shirt” that became the prime J. Press shirt choice until their demise in the 1960s. They were followed by Troy Shirtmakers Guild of Glens Falls, NY. Troy Guild perpetuated the made in USA 100% cotton button down collar in our own barrel cuff full bodied tradition.
I remember going head-to-head with Elliot and Marty at a party in New Haven sometime in the 1970s while visiting my parents. “We worked in your stockroom and you only buy a few sport shirts from us,” they said.“Good luck selling to our competitors,” I replied. “We are happy for your success.” The postprandial conversation continued merrily amongst the New Haven shirt cognoscenti and I recall Gant competitor Seymour Shapiro who broke away from the Gant Brothers to form Sero Shirts keeping his distance in the room.
Back to the @ivy-style Oscar. “The J. Press Oxford…read distinction, it looks like you spent the money…what it does here is create an Oxford shirt that carries itself with as much comfort as the pedigree it represents.”
I could go on except for the fact of my drooling and eyes tearing. Access the blog and savor the rave.
Just got a Made In The USA button pocket OCBD shirt in pink from J. Press & I love it. The material, buttons & workmanship is reminiscent of 40 years ago. Don’t know how they do it but I just ordered a couple more.
Wore it without a tie to a board meeting the other day & I was the best dressed one in the room. I particularly like the button front pocket & the button on the back of the collar with is 1/8" taller than other shirts which doesn’t sound like a lot but is really nice. It even has a ‘Fruit Loop’ too~!
Given today’s deplorable state of dress in corporate America this shirt in all 3 colors is my new uniform with or without a sport coat.
Grosse Pointe Shores
My Father -in-Law of blessed memory, worked for Irving Press at the Camp Ritchie Px whilst in the Army. He was a German refugee who fled Hitler in 1938 and arrived sans Parents, speaking no english. Eventually he ended up in the Army during the war. And while not working for Army intelligence as one of the “Camp Ritchie boys” he told me his boss was Captain Press at the base Px.
Just received my new JP tattersall check in cream, used your mtm service. Ordered it with the flap pocket, reminiscing of my Gant days. I’m in my 70s , longing for for those good memories of the Ivy,preppy or what ever the fashion trend calls it which I call it common sense and a good investment.
BTW this new collection of shirts is very reminiscent of the 60s Gant shirts, which featured very beautiful, and different, fabrics. Well done, J. Press!
The best OCBD shirt! period. I’ve been wearing custom from others but have come to love the style, moreover, the fit of J.Press. I enjoy the histories and memoirs of Richard Press as well. Nicely done!
I noticed Fred MacMurray (as Steve Douglas on My Three Sons) wearing a J. Press flap-pocket OCBD in a scene where he was working at his engineering drawing board. That man had class!
Interesting bit of history. I also find it interesting that really, the idea of the Oxford shirt, or polo as it was once called, really came from England. And then the shirt was sort of sold back to England in the 60s as the height of fashion for the working class youths. Taken up by John Simons and the like. Then, Ben Sherman, Jaytex, etc and they were huge hits. So, in a round about way, much like The British Invasion sold American blues back to kids in the US, you folks, and your haberdasher compatriots, sold their shirts back to them as something uniquely American and uniquely Ivy League on top of that.
i just ordered my first… but with the pointy color bc i don’t need extra buttons to fasten! haha please don’t hate me 😂
Very well made OCBD shirts with or without pocket flap!
I encountered Gant shirts for the first time in college, fell in love with their style and fit, and must have owned 50 of them by the time I decamped for New Haven in 1967. Driving into West Haven on the Pike, I was reassured to see the familiar Gant name on the factory. Then up the connector, turn right onto York St., and there was J. Press, Rosenberg, and Saks, surely style heaven. And let’s not forget that a Mr. Lauren bought the Polo label from Brooks in 1967 for $100K, so we’d have to say he made good on his investment, and on finding a style treasure in the two brands.
I remember noticing in the windows of the old New Haven store what I later learned were called royal Oxford shirts usually in light shades and with a slight sheen to them. They looked nice but regrettably I never bought one. What can you tell us about royal Oxford cloth? I’m not sure I ever saw one worn.
One of the best OCBD’s (along with those by Mercer) on the market. I wear and enjoy several of yours routinely, which reminds me. . . I’ve been meaning to order a few more. One can never have too many quality shirts hanging in the closet.