On the New Haven Line | A Continuous Lean.

On the New Haven Line

Aug 26th, 2010 | Categories: Americana, Men's Stores, New Haven, TNSIL | by Michael Williams

Take the train from Grand Central to New Haven and go straight to J. Press at 262 York Street. A few years ago I had the great pleasure of working for the company (sort of a dream come true at the time) and I would occasionally make the trip up to New Haven or Cambridge for business. When we went to Yale we would go by the Yankee Doodle and have hamburgers. The great part of the J. Press store in New Haven was the fact that it still exists. The New York store sort of moved around and never felt perfect (even when it was around the corner from 346 on 44th Street), but New Haven always felt right. In the store there would be nary a student in sight — save maybe someone on an errand for a school boy scarf during the colder months or a guy in need of a repp tie.

The clientele has aged with the company, but the bones of the brand are still there. And never call it preppy. J. Press is “Ivy League style,” because this isn’t prep school. The sack suit is like acid in the eyes of “the kids,” a name my friends and I have for the younger style-set that don’t necessarily get J. Press.  I’m not yet an old man, but I have a certain fondness for the sack — even if it is unflattering. I like the natural shoulder too, because that’s about as American as it gets. Like most things, many feel that J. Press isn’t the same chap he was 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago — though some still swear by it. Likely, more the former than the latter. The Japanese have owned it for years and years, but still Press carries on. You can’t say that about a lot of companies or clothing lines. When you think about it, many a mighty brand have fallen and disappeared during Press’s watch. Even the Doodle is gone, as is Mory’s…yet Press persists.

J. Press founder Jacobi Press in New Haven, Conn.

Suits from a 1958 J. Press catalog

From a 1963 J. Press catalog

Comments: 24

24 Comments to “On the New Haven Line”

  1. Ted
    on Aug 27th, 2010
    @ 12:44 AM

    Just purchased a stainless money clip from the Madison Ave J. Press. They were really friendly and helpful. One of my business partners will only shop at the New Haven store.
    He’s a dying breed!

  2. Paul
    on Aug 27th, 2010
    @ 7:56 AM

    I made a visit to J. Press York Street this summer. The merchandise never changes and I like that. The salesman was a great guy, but he was dressed casually – that never would happen even twenty years ago. The times, they are a changin’. Hope to go back this fall for a game at the Yale Bowl with my son. Orlando to New Haven, a long way to go for ties and pizza (apizza), but fun.

  3. Christina
    on Aug 27th, 2010
    @ 8:54 AM

    I like that, not preppy, Ivy League Style, so cool.

  4. Brian
    on Aug 27th, 2010
    @ 9:18 AM

    I love the Harvard Square store. It’s manned by old stalwarts who know what they have and how it works. They also have a fantastic tailor. Their suits’ fits might not be the most stylish, but they carry a high-quality product — American and Canadian-made suits, fantastic tweeds from across the pond, and anything else you’d need to complete your outfit. Admittedly the less-than-slim fit has kept me from buying as much as I otherwise would, but I did just pick up a summer suit there.

  5. editor
    on Aug 27th, 2010
    @ 10:25 AM

    great post.
    the chairs in that store…mmmm, patina.

  6. Zachary
    on Aug 27th, 2010
    @ 12:19 PM

    The Sack can be a flattering look, just make sure you get it tailored right, with which the gentlemen at Press should have no problem helping you. The flap pocket oxfords have a great fit to me, much better than the classic cut Brooks Brothers Oxfords(though the Slims are amazingly cut). I am looking forward to getting myself a Shaggy Dog this Fall…

  7. karen
    on Aug 27th, 2010
    @ 1:04 PM

    I love this, our mom is from new haven and her dad worked at jpress and then had his own store on madison. did u get some pizza while you were there?!

  8. J.P.
    on Aug 27th, 2010
    @ 3:00 PM

    I love J Press. It was a real achievement for me when I bought my first tweed jacket in the New Haven store after law school.

  9. l davis
    on Aug 27th, 2010
    @ 4:47 PM

    The cambridge store is terrific! This spring I called them looking for a Mackintosh collaboration for my husband ( a zip front vaguely safari style short jacket)JPress had done for spring-summer six years ago and that I had spotted in the catalogue back then. A one time only kind of thing. Anyway the store manager knew immediately the jacket I was inquiring about, and said he had some in his warehouse and that he could dig one out in my husband’s size. He called back a few days later, he had the jacket and even sold it to me for fifty percent off its original five hundred dollar price. Fantastic that he could find it at all. Lilia Davis

    Lilia Davis

  10. JJ. Yale
    on Aug 27th, 2010
    @ 8:53 PM

    A note: Mory’s is back up and running.

  11. Christopher Tawney
    on Aug 27th, 2010
    @ 11:46 PM

    Still astonishingly good in my view; wish there was one in London.

    Chris.

  12. nick
    on Aug 28th, 2010
    @ 9:08 AM

    One of (now) three places I never fail to visit in New Haven. God, I miss the Doodle.

  13. Read
    on Aug 28th, 2010
    @ 10:39 AM

    When accused of being “just another Brooks Brothers Republican,” George H.W. Bush opened his suit, revealing a brand that drew gasps from the crowd. “I’m a J. Press man,” he replied.

  14. allen
    on Aug 28th, 2010
    @ 5:10 PM

    I don’t know why Press fans always bring up the Bush connection. America despises the Bushes, haven’t you heard? It’s like bragging that Mussolini wore your favorite brand of cologne.

  15. Karl
    on Aug 28th, 2010
    @ 11:56 PM

    Mussolini = Bush; Really? That is the dumbest thing I’ve heard in a while mate.

  16. Joseph
    on Aug 29th, 2010
    @ 2:40 PM

    True. I’d say the bush clan is far worse than Mussolini.

  17. MJ
    on Aug 29th, 2010
    @ 5:09 PM

    Really, G.H.W. Bush worse than Mussolini? The man who joined the Navy at 17, was shot down over the Bonin Islands and ended up winning the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery? I don’t mean to drag politics into the comments, but G.H.B. Bush was a hero the likes of which America doesn’t make anymore.

    The mystique of the Ivy League look, to my mind, is that those who wore it were motivated as much by duty and sacrifice as by privilege. We’d be better off as a culture now if those given G.H.W.’s advantages were as willing as he was to risk them at honor’s demand.

  18. Joseph
    on Aug 29th, 2010
    @ 9:59 PM

    He got shot down. Why is that brave? He was a poor pilot. And he was responsible for Bush junior.

  19. Michael Williams
    on Aug 29th, 2010
    @ 10:00 PM

    Please stop.

  20. joe
    on Aug 30th, 2010
    @ 2:20 AM

    Mory’s was gone but now it’s back.

    The Doodle, though, is now a thing of legend.

  21. Brian
    on Aug 30th, 2010
    @ 8:53 AM

    George H.W. Bush is also a Turnbull & Asser man, as noted in T&A’s New York store. Sorry for the rather pointless aside.

  22. greg
    on Aug 31st, 2010
    @ 4:21 PM

    Actually, Prescott Bush, GHWB’s father, who was on Yale’s board for many years, was one of several prominent conservative businessmen implicated in a nascent 1936 plot to mobilize military veterans and overthrow FDR.

    The BBC did a documentary about it in 2007.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/document/document_20070723.shtml

    Bush’s name is regularly removed from the plot’s Wikipedia entry.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Plot

  23. Bill Smith
    on Sep 1st, 2010
    @ 2:52 PM

    Interesting story on J Press, I like their oxford cloth shirt with the flap pocket, might order a couple. As for the sack suit, not sold on that yet.

  24. Jason W. Dean
    on Sep 8th, 2010
    @ 1:35 PM

    I wish we had one in Texas, but I did get to visit the J. Press in DC over the summer. Wonderful! I hope to visit the New Haven location at some point!