Replicating The Golden Fleece

Replicating The Golden Fleece

The ghost of our recent neighbor and competitor at 346 Madison Avenue lies naked in blessed memory of its once glorious past. I write this confession more in sorrow than misplaced glee.

In 1950, when I was 12 years old my grandfather, the eponymous Jacobi Press, took me to Brooks Brothers for my Bar Mitzvah suit. He took it back to his shop across the street for alterations and the first thing he did was rip off the Brooks Brothers label and replace it with one of his own.

Grandpa Press’ dismemberment of a Brooks Brothers label from my size 14 grey flannel suit followed the protocol first established in New Haven turn of the last century: namely, emulating Brooks Brothers.

All the players alongside the Yale campus — Langrock, Fenn-Feinstein, Arthur Rosenberg, White’s, Isenberg’s, the Yale Coop “followed suit” in mimicking Brooks Brothers. And when LIFE Magazine proclaimed the coast-to-coast explosion of the Ivy League Look, mainstream retailers got into the act by further copying the Brooks Brothers Number One Sack Suit, not to mention exploiting the famous button-down shirt, repp tie, seersuckers, Indian Madras, polo coat—the whole works.

However, in a memoir of his days at Yale, Episcopal Archbishop of New York Paul Moore, Jr. credited Jacobi  Press with doing more than anyone else to establish the Ivy Look. “His tweeds were a little softer and flashier than the Brooks Brothers tweeds,” Moore writes, “his ties a little brighter.”

Soon his sons Irving and Paul used the Brooks curriculum to devise their version adapting a flap pocket on their dress shirts, center hook vent on sport coats, blazers, and suit coats and further adding a raised notch on the jacket lapels. I got into the act in the 1960s bringing Brooks’ 6th floor 346  two-button suit model for our modified requirements on 16 East 44th Street.

Manufacturers and retailers together joined in the conspiracy to clone the Golden Fleece including Gant and Sero in New Haven, Hathaway Shirts in Waterville, Maine. Norman Hilton in Princeton, Julie Hertling in Brooklyn, and Haspel Brothers in New Orleans.

Demise of the hallowed ground of 346 Madison brings to mind Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem Ozymandias, “Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare/The lone level sands stretch far away,”






I need to check you out. I have been a BB fan for years.

Lowell Linden

I hear you ROBERT W. EMMAUS. I am a 12-14 inch drop…depending. Unfortunately, I missed out on the whole Martin Greenfield and Southwick era. But, just as well, as they wouldn’t fit me anymore. I really like the J.P. hooked vent as well as lower BB lapel notch.


Some items from BB are still worth purchasing.

At a wedding two years ago, a former executive at B. Altman was wearing his Navy blazer; he complimented me on mine (I have two).

I enjoy wearing the Clark trousers from BB; the crease is sharp and my mother (she’s 95 and grew up in Richmond, Virginia admiring the styles of the fellows from UR) thinks they’re wonderful. She even told one of my younger brothers to buy some.

For shoes I stick with Allen Edmonds; the selection from BB is dreadful.

Eminence Grise

Brooks in its heyday was indeed a colossus, and Richard’s tribute to them speaks of his own graciousness as a competitor. I had a number of suits made to measure at Brooks — the first group were made for BB by Martin Greenfield, and a later batch by Southwick (after Brooks purchased their factory); I prefer the former. Ultimately Brooks was undone by overexpansion as well as a changing market; covid was the nail in the coffin.
With the demise of Brooks, I have found J. Press to be a worthy alternative to the classic Brooks quality and style. Most of Press’s goods are made in U.S.A., whereas it’s almost impossible to find domestically made merchandise in a Brooks store nowadays.

Ross Ellison

Having just worn a nearly 30 year old JPress suit to a funeral last Thursday, I was surprised to receive a number of compliments on my great looking ‘new’ suit. I took these to be a testament to your high quality tailoring and classically timeless lines. In addition to many JPress suits, I also purchased BB suits in my career and loved them but your suits are the ones I kept after retirement and still wear today…and they continue to look great. I remember fondly spending much time with Arthur at your 18th and L street store in DC and loving our exchanges. The state of American men’s clothing is, in my opinion, at an all time low because of the mercurial tastes of the buying public and the sad pandering by many soon to be ‘has been’ stores to appease the fickle tastes of the masses. I hold JPress in high regard in that you’ve managed to keep your core customer and still manage to capture the younger generations and their ever-changing tastes. Cheers👏

David Scypinski