Pressing On

In 1902, Jacobi Press opened a men’s clothing store in New Haven, Connecticut, which sold mainly repp ties and blue blazers to young men who mainly attended Yale University, and who were mainly directed to the store by their fathers, who had bought the same repp ties and the same blue blazers, and attended the same school, decades earlier. Jacobi called his store J. Press.

The J. Press catalog, 1962.

The J. Press catalog, 1962.

In the century since Press opened his store, the line has grown to include locations in Cambridge, New York, and Washington, D.C. The original store in New Haven remains the largest, although all carry the same stock: subdued woolens, three-button blazers,  items of herringbone and tweed, plaid scarves, and things which bear crests.

J. Press remains essentially the same store it was in 1902: polite and dry salespeople help men find and fit coats and trousers, prints of horses and polo matches hang on the panelled walls, and there isn’t a corner of the store to look in, from the cash register to the stock rooms, which doesn’t seem suspended in time (and better for the suspension). The company has taken great pains to avoid both outsourcing garment construction and the fickle trends of popular culture.

A J. Press store is a calm oasis in a roiling sea of “progress,” a place men know will, no matter the climes outside, be polite, genteel, and exactly the way they last left it. And though they’re unlikely to boast, storekeepers (and customers) remember President George H.W. Bush, a customer since his undergraduate years at Yale, being accused one year of “Brooks Brothers Republicanism.” Grinning mildly, the President unbuttoned his three-button blue blazer on television to show that he was, on the contrary, a J. Press Republican.

J. Press, Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass.

J. Press, Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass.

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