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.