J.Press has been serving the soft-shouldered crowd since 1902, but lately their S.Cohen made jackets have been hurting the reputation when it comes to soft-shouldered tailoring. That is why my ears perked up when I heard rumblings of new “imported” suits at J.Press with much softer shoulders the their S.Cohen offerings.
Right about this time our man Ensiferous showed (He helped me out with my waistcoat post.) one of these Chinese made suits off. I reached out to Ensiferous for a review of this suit and luckily for us he was happy to oblige!
Ensiferous will take it from here,
The J. Press “Pressclusive Suit in Australian Worsted Peppin Merino wool, imported.”
In my opinion, the last word in the description, “Imported”, is the only contentious part of this J. Press suit, though one might debate that the price of $795 is questionable as well.
But there is no question that this suit has the right details:
*An actual 3/2 lapel roll with some “bloom”, rather than flat-pressed lapels. And the lapel width is classic; neither skinny nor wide, at just under 3.5″
*Shoulders that are neither overly wide, nor overly padded. (See shoulder pinch image.) While not yet perfect, this is a minor revolution in what could be a return to the the jacket outline that is a figurative grail for men who seek the natural shoulder style.
*A very good curvilinear cut of the jacket’s break line from the gorge down the lapels, and through the quarters. (Suggested reading: Billax on the subject: The two pairs of Ogee curves in the Ivy League look) A key to this is the perfectly balanced, classic Ivy League 3-button spacing, which avoids the regrettable deep-vee break line.
*Flat front trousers with sufficient rise, 8 belt loops, a good waistband, and lined to the knee.
*The jacket has an undarted front (technically is side darted) and has a single hook vent.
Significant is the improvement over the S. Cohen sourced J. Press jackets which had very dated shoulders. And dated in a bad way, as in 1989. This suit is more worthy of the Press TNSIL pedigree. On the production tag inside a trouser back pocket is printed “Onward Kashiyama Co. LTD”, and I think that someone there might actually be listening to us, or has studied some dusty old images of the greatest era of mens clothing design in history, the United States circa ’50 to ’65.
The navy fabric is very dark, almost a black-navy. Understandably, some might not like it, but I find it acceptable since most of my other navy suits are slightly lighter and this darker shade allows me to have a wider range of navy blue available. The fabric itself is very comfortable, but tends to wrinkle more than the Loro Piana equivalent.
For me, the suit runs a bit roomy, so I sized down 1″ in the chest compared to the Brooks Brothers Madison fit. The trousers were fine at the waist, but too roomy and in need of trimming down in the seat & thighs. I had them tapered to a 7.75″ leg opening.
But only on sale does this suit make economic sense to me. Both having the same full price, it competes with O’Connell’s H. Freeman worsted navy suit, which is fully canvassed and made in the USA. So the Press import is even tougher to justify knowing that it is Chinese made. But the J. Press fits me better than the H. Freeman. (Oddly, vintage H. Freeman & Sons fit me, but not the new H. Freeman)
The combination of its attributes make for a suit that I consider overall to be the most evocative of the mid-century Ivy boom years that I can buy new. Excellent condition old suits from the TNSIL heyday are very hard to come across, but this suit is like finding a vintage new-old-stock Ivy League suit from 1958.
But all that said, it is ultimately just a mid-level utility suit (and the J. Press base level suit) with the requisite details. Those who require only high quality suits of the best materials and construction would likely not consider this suit anyway, but those who seek out the minutiae of the Ivy League style might give it a try. –Ensiferous
Initially I was very excited that Press had moved production away from S.Cohen, but this is not the case. Ensiferous’s suit was purchased sometime around 2013. He reported that he tried to buy another of these suits recently and it was made in Thailand. It also fit larger. He passed.
This probably isn’t the most useful info if you have to purchase from J.Press over the internet. It does make taking a shot at something marked “Imported” a little more tempting. If you are in driving range of a brick & mortar or will be in the future this is definitely an additional reason to visit. Just look for the made in China tag along with the sales tag.