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.