Urban Safari on 44th Street

Safari jackets became my magnificent obsession in 1977 when expeditionary outfitting company Willis & Geiger allowed my then family company J. Press the right to merchandise its eponymous Safari Jacket, which had previously been restricted to Abercrombie & Fitch.

J. Press Bush Jackets

The original Abercrombie & Fitch Co. declared bankruptcy that same year closing its landmark New York store on Madison Avenue and 45th Street. The 12-floor, museum-quality emporium featured a shooting gallery, hundreds of guns in the gun room, which was decorated with stuffed game heads, plus fishing, boating, skiing and archery gear, a sporting bookstore, and five floors of clothing suitable for different climates and terrains.

The Abercrombie bankruptcy left Willis & Geiger its largest creditor enabling J. Press to carry its product until the brand was sold to Lands’ End in 1990.

Since then, the Safari Jacket has been my costume of choice and I wear it accompanied by matching khakis or Nantucket Reds. When I fantasize myself a Hemingway rogue, I tie it together with an ascot and knock-off a Bacardi Cuba Libre. More than half a dozen Safari Jackets remain hidden in my closet, including the slightly ragged 1977 remnant souvenir (pictured above) next to less-than-pluperfect copies from LL Bean, Orvis, TravelSmith,Tag, J. Peterman, Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren.

Several years ago, performing the comedy of marital comity, my wife purchased a women’s Safari Jacket from TravelSmith that allowed a wise guy on the 86th Street crosstown bus to taunt us, “You guys on the Road to Timbuktu?”

The beat goes on with different strokes for different folks. For Fall/Winter 2020 J. Press is back in the game introducing a Safari Jacket more of an outerwear piece maintaining some of the details that distinguished Bush Jackets of an earlier time. Constructed in khaki Waxed Cotton with a lemon hue outercoat and cotton olive tattersall lining, belted closure, lower bellows pockets with button flaps, shirt sleeve cuffs, made to our specification in England.

Arguably one of the most iconic outfits for better or worse—Roger Moore’s sophomore outing in a green safari shirt-jacket via James Bond in The Man With The Golden Gun.

 

J. Press drives it up a notch.

 

 

RICHARD PRESS

9 comments

I oversaw construction projects in my “past life” as a construction engineer, and found the bush jacket to be perfect for me, due to its numerous pockets and ability to blend into (and hide dust/dirt from) dusty construction-site environments, while still looking good. Are there any warm-weather versions still sold today?

Elias Gordan November 28, 2020

Please provide a size chart for safari shirts measurements or it’s only MTM.
Thank you

Diego Giuseppe November 23, 2020

Great story Richard, I was the owner the of two knock-off versions one tan and the other a sport coat version
In a dark Hunter Green with a buckeld waist and a vented
Shoulder I wore it with a mint green turtleneck.
I was James Bond! You couldn’t tell me a thing!!
Thanks for the Memories in this bygone era of fashion that Lacks in subtle sophistication.
Cheers my fellow Adventurer and happy holidays!
Stay safe… Harry Maisonet. Brooklyn, N.Y.

Harry Maisonet November 18, 2020

You properly show that what goes around comes around. Perhaps J. Press will bring back the silk houndstooth check neckties popular in the 1970s!

Burton and Karen Lamont November 18, 2020

I wish that I had a Safari Jacket when I searched for King Solomon’s Mines

Allan Quatermain November 18, 2020

After Abercrombie & Fitch went bankrupt, I guess Mr Epstein’s uncle bought it?
Which brand was sold to Land’s End?

Reader November 16, 2020

I worked in the more remote regions of Africa for over a decade but could never work up the courage to wear a safari jacket. Hats off to you, Richard.

Roy November 16, 2020

Tell when and where I can buy a safari jacket I just love them , but find them increasingly difficult to find

Eric Clifford November 16, 2020

Is it available in Harris Tweed.?

Stephen Elliott November 16, 2020

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