Last season, when hyper-traditional men's retailer J. Press introduced its new York Street collection, they promised that it would come with its own boutique, and as if by clockwork, it opened this Fashion Week, though with surprisingly little fanfare. Even the label's designers, Ariel and Shimon Ovadia of Ovadia & Sons were reportedly caught unaware, but the doors are open and ready for customers eager for the next update of yet another preppy stalwart looking to broaden its scope.
It's tough not to compare the store to longtime rival Brooks Brothers' Black Fleece whose own boutique is only a couple of blocks up the street. Gant, which shares roots in collegiate New Haven Connecticut with J. Press, has its tiny Rugger shop, which also features the label's Michael Bastian line, in similar proximity. This makes their new neighbor particularly well situated, and in terms of sheer size, you could fit the combined square footage of Black Fleece and Rugger at least twice over inside York Street' Ivy League frat house inspired interior. The spaciousness is already a huge advantage for the shop, and the location, between Grove and Barrow Streets signals an further expansion of Bleecker Street's luxury section past Christopher Street toward Seventh Avenue as suitable spaces become scarcer.
While it's easy to think of York Street as a "me-too" response to Black Fleece, the label's first collection is more of a gentle tweaking of preppy, classic J. Press staples than Thom Browne's highly stylized interpretation of Brooks Brothers. Shoppers will find the familiar khakis, madras and oxford shirts, navy blazers and pinstripe suits that J. Press has sold for years, but in newly trimmed down proportions and spiced up with inventive extras like bandanna printed tees and brightly colored outerwear. Every category is represented including signature ribbon belts, nautical inspired totes, tassel and two-tone penny loafers made in Maine for the brand by Eastland, and arcane accessories like your choice of Ivy League scarves and lapel pins. How the new label fares in its home is ultimately up to shoppers, but if you are hungry for more neo-preppy gear, your next shopping destination is now open.
J. Press York Street 304 Bleecker St between Grove & Barrow Streets, West Village