J Press, Stock Vintage, CHCM, Snyder: New New York
It was really nice to be in New York last week, after a break of three years. (The last time being for our Ivy Symposium.)
I got to see many old friends, both in the industry (Steven Taffel of Leffot and I realised we both have our 15-year anniversary next year) and outside it (thank you to all the readers that came to the pop-up) as well as going to a lot of my favourite shops.
But I also managed to go to a few new places, and I thought it would be nice to summarise a few of them here. I’ll also be covering some later in full articles, and I mention those at the end.
Believe it or not, I’ve never been to J Press. I think because I used to be so much more focused on sharp tailoring, and at the same time had the lingering feeling it was rather stuffy and old-fashioned.
Now, the latter is undoubtedly true of some of the styling, and doubtless of many of its customers (it’s interesting to see what the Japanese side of the brand is doing, on that score). But the quality of the products is very good and very consistent, so all it needs is a little personal style - a little of the old Drake’s look perhaps, particularly given the range is similar to what Drake’s used to sell.
There are great Aran knits, made in Ireland, and not too traditional/boxy a fit. The ‘Shaggy Dog’ shetlands are not only super-soft, but in some quite contemporary colours - I particularly liked a brown/charcoal mix. And there’s a line of lighter-weight, slim-fit Shaggy Dogs too.
The tailoring is obviously soft and unstructured, which feels rather contemporary today, and it’s one place that’s always going to have something like a solid grey-herringbone Harris Tweed jacket - even if you wouldn’t want to wear the jackets like any of the models on the website.
143 East 13th Street
Stock Vintage has been around for years, but I never spent much time exploring New York vintage stores in the past. Now I have, I know the charms of Church Street Surplus and the many many options in Brooklyn. Stock Vintage, however, has a particular charm.
It’s run by the lovely Melissa Howard, who like most experienced vintage dealers, makes the vast majority of her money from designers looking for inspiration. Indeed, she has toyed with whether the retail side is worth it, and keeps the door closed most of the time (the shop is open, but the metal frames and closed door mean passers-by don’t just wander in). But she also says she’d miss the people she meets in a physical shop.
The stock tends to the older end of the vintage spectrum, mostly twenties to fifties, with some very old. Prices are relatively high, with rarity more of a factor, as you’d expect given the designer focus. It’s less of a retail-driven shop, essentially, than somewhere like Le Vif or Rag Parade.
But there are some gems in there, and Melissa knows the stock inside out, which is helpful - she’ll know there are only two varsity knits that are going to be your size, or that it’s not worth trawling through the jeans stacks, as most are overalls or too small. I walked away with an old Pendleton overshirt and a very faded Big Mac chambray.
2 Bond Street
CHCM is a little store on a lower ground floor in Noho, and easy to miss. Run by Englishman Sweetu Patel and now 12 years old, it’s a white box with an eclectic mix of classic and contemporary brands.
Indeed, browsing it made me realise how few interesting multi-brand stores there are today. CHCM stocks Stoffa, for example, but I realised I’ve never seen Stoffa styled with non-Stoffa pieces. Sweetu puts those U-neck vests and self-belted trousers with technical clothing from the likes of Teatora, a Japanese brand that is all grey, technical, packable.
There’s LEJ here, Paraboot and Arpenteur; but also Veilance, MAN-TLE and Auralee. “Often guys tend towards their safe areas, the styles of things they’re used to,” says Sweetu. “But my core customer mixes things up - always has. It’s that kind of styling that I’ve always found most interesting.”
It’s definitely worth a visit, if only to remember the stimulation that can come from a multi-brand store with a particular view on the world.
25 E 26th St (flagship)
Oddly, there’s no equivalent to Todd Snyder in the UK. Essentially a high-street brand, with a roughly similar level of quality, it might also be the most on-trend shop in the world for classic menswear.
There are gurkha trousers, there is turquoise jewellery; there are knitted cardigans of the style you’d expect from Scott Fraser. They sell Alden, Bennett Winch, LL Bean. They even sell L’Etiquette magazine. It’s the opposite of CHCM in that way: you feel it has sucked in every idea and brand from elsewhere, rather than having more of a view of its own.
Whether there’s anything wrong with that is a debate for another day, but PS readers should be aware (one asked about Snyder last week) that the quality mostly isn’t the level we talk about. It does vary - they do shirts with Maffeis for example - but I’ve had a pair of the Champion shorts for a few years, and I’d rather have them from any brand at Clutch.
Then again, Japanese brands are quirky. They don’t have sweats in nine different colours, all in a very standard fit. I bought those shorts because I liked the faded red colour, and no one else had it.
So I can completely understand why readers would be drawn to Todd Snyder, and it would be a great addition to London (much better than the rest of our high street). I just wouldn’t put it amongst the other brands and shops we normally cover, despite how in-tune it appears.
Other shops I visited for the first time included Bode (above), Patagonia, Stella Dallas, Raggedy Threads, J Mueser, Belgian Shoes, 45R, Filson, Attolini, Crowley Vintage and Moulded Shoe. Longer pieces coming on some of those.
Old favourites I revisited included Leffot, Alden Madison, Paul Stuart, Paolo Martorano, RRL on West Broadway and the Ralph mansion. In fact, thinking about it I should update the New York shopping guide - I’ll try and do that soon.
As ever, always interested to hear readers’ views on these places, particularly as ones in New York will be much more frequent visitors.
That’s a very useful article, especially the comments on J Press. It is, to me, the American equivalent of Cordings rather than Drake’s. Cording’s Piccadilly store may also seem “rather stuffy” but I love the traditional fittings. The quality of service is excellent too and the prices remain affordable.
Please expand your comment on the change to Drake’s “look”. The brand has changed greatly in recent years, especially after the move to Savile Row. Is Michael Hill now just targeting the wealthy young professional market? Prices have risen substantially too, long before inflation spiralled in recent months. I’m very comfortably off but baulk at some of the eye-watering prices, especially for RTW tailoring.
Thanks Gary, yes that’s what I meant and Cordings is a decent parallel. Both are places that can be great if you bring your own style to them.
Drake’s has changed its style to include more casual clothing, more logos and so on. I can’t comment on Michael Hill’s aim or motivation though.
I agree about Cordings. I also agree about Drakes. The amount of times the prices have increased and where they currently sit are amazing compared to a few years ago. Jackets are half canvassed now as well while still being $500 more than before. Still love how they look, but at this point I can barely afford them on sale, let alone full price.
Hi Simon, as someone who’s only discovered Drake’s in the last year or two, I was intrigued by your comment about the old Drake style and what they used to sell. What’s the difference between that and what they sell now?
I just commented on that briefly above. They used to be known more for the style they brought to more traditional clothing, making a shawl cardigan, a cord trouser or a suede chukka look more current and interesting. There was no jersey (T-shirts, sweatshirts) etc
I’ve just found the Lookbooks from 2015 archived in the Editorial section of the new Drake’s website. There are up to 135 pages of articles to wade through but the contrasts over the years are apparent. If you’ve got some spare time, it’s worth the effort.
I’d like to add to Simon’s reply. My perception is that Drake’s tried to combine Italian and Ivy (rather than traditional British) style. The ties changed from being substantially lined like Turnbull & Asser (my usual brand) to unlined like the Neapolitans.
The new stock and Autumn 2022 Lookbook suggest that Drake’s is returning to that Italian/Ivy combination. The Madras cotton shirts and Shetland jumpers are back too!
Drakes has definitely gone through significant change last 4-5 years. If you were a long time customer, the jump in pricing on the core line is hard to stomach and the latest “styling collabs” leave a lot to be desired (in my opinion). However, in the US those in the know never buy full retail. Sign up for the mailing list and wait for the insider sales that happen couple of times a year. If you’re in NYC they also run a sales shop where sometimes the discounts on current stock can be up to 75% with a lot of items. It really is incredible how much they discount at these times. Gives you an idea on the true value of the product. However, the experience at the sales shop is pretty awful…the shop itself is just a basic store front hired for the week, hordes of people swarming over the clothing that is often dumped on the floors, looking for a spot to try stuff on etc. The damage to the brand is quite visible during this time. Check out the style forum Drakes thread for a comprehensive run-down of how Drakes has changed and how polarizing this has become to their core customer.
Can we expect a little Filson goodness,Simon?
No sorry, no specific plans there
It appears that the strength of the dollar and weakness of Sterling and the Euro have had a big impact on Filson’s prices on this side of the Atlantic. Does the brand still have a store in London?
No they don’t unfortunately
I imagine the strength of the dollar is killing off the international business for a US brand like Filson. It’s already not cheap, even in dollars (with some hefty price rises in recent years). Convert that to GBP, EUR or JPY and it becomes extremely expensive.
I just picked up what looks like the last Filson Padded Computer Bag in Japan. Their products are fast becoming rarer than hen’s teeth. Saved a couple of hundred dollars on the RRP. Voluminous size and built to last a lifetime. Worth it.
I just want to say thanks for coming! It was really helpful to be able to try on the Donegal coat (I managed to snag a 4 from Private White just yesterday), check the fit, and see how the colors worked in person. I also appreciated the opportunity to meet you, the Rubato gents, and Fred, who were all so friendly and helpful.
Amazing, I’m so pleased it was useful for you Jeff. It was certainly really nice for me meeting everyone
As a New Yorker, it seems like you hit some of the best places the city has to offer for men in the know. I look forward to some of your longer posts about this trip, particularly interested in someone else’s perspective of Belgian Shoes as a long time customer.
Thank you, Simon!
Thanks Garrett, nice to hear.
I’m not planning anything specific on Belgian Shoes to be honest. It was great to see the store, but I would always prefer Baudoin & Lange, as the quality is better and they don’t require the bow detail. I know some people like Belgians for that detail and find them more comfortable on the width though
Arran Vs Aran jumpers/sweaters/pullovers.
Hi Simon, as you read this you probably immediately see what I’m going to write. Arran is an island in Scotland. The Aran Islands, famous for the geansaí of the type you cover here, are in Ireland.
Great article, thank you.
I’ve had very mixed experiences with Todd Snyder. I’ve gotten pants without a pocket completed. I’ve ordered jeans where the rear seam wasn’t straight. I’ve received knit shirts with arm holes big enough for Arnold Schwarzenegger during his body building days. I’ve ordered size 16 shirts and they delivered a size 17.
I mention all this to emphasize the lack of attention to detail. It’s a shame, because I do like their styling.
Simon, I think you’ve absolutely nailed Todd Snyder. I consistently find myself pulling the trigger on, and subsequently returning, their clothes. They’ve mastered trends but their execution does not hold up (unlike their spiritual predecessor, ~2010-2012 JCrew).
Any chance you spotted any excellent pairs of denim stateside? You’d previously recommended a few spots but all London-based…
No, sorry CT
Patagonia! I’ve a huge amount of respect for Chouinard and what Patagonia does.
I wonder what the venn diagram between the core “dirtbag” demographic that Patagonia makes for and the PS readership looks like?!
I guess there are a few dedicated fly fishers out there in PS land. But it’s a long way from Mayfair to Ventura!
I reckon you might be surprised H. People have more than one type of activity in their lives, and if they were looking at an outerwear brand I think the philosophy of Patagonia would appeal a lot. (See reader profile on Tim for example.)
Definitely! PS principles apply-buy the best and buy once.
My outdoor job often involves me enduring rain and wind(plus our camping holidays) and technical fabrics are needed, so it makes sense to buy from a company heavily committed to recycling,environment and living wage(shout out to Paramo).
I think their mix of natural fibres mixed with recycled polymers will become much more common in the future.
I have bought clothes from Todd Snyder. It actually has decent products which you can get on sale. We are not talking about bespoke jeans or other clothing. But, that should not eliminate it as an option for PS readers. For example, I bought a pair of selvedge jeans. Are they Japanese made? No, but the selvedge is good and those pair of jeans get the most compliments from others. Also, they sell John Smedley which has been recommended by this site.
Hi Simon, I’ve never been to the Clutch Cafe, but the New York equivalent would be my favorite shop, Standard & Strange. I am a Bryceland’s and Real McCoy’s fanboy and S&S is the only shop that carries both (not so much stuff from the former, but they do stock their iconic sawtooth denim shirt). The only down side is the NYC sales tax which tacks on an additional 8.875% to an already expensive garment. You should definitely pay them a visit the next time you’re in town.
Thanks Paul, I didn’t think about S&S. I did go to Blue in Green briefly. On the taxes, spare a thought for most other places in the world – in most of Europe you’d be paying 20% tax
Simon, please allow me to add my thanks for coming to New York. It was wonderful to finally meet you in person after seeing you at the symposium in New York a few years ago and following you online since. For those readers that have not had the pleasure, let me tell you that Simon is even more personable and charming in person. I happened to arrive at the pop up just behind another well known fashion writer with the initials BB. Disappointed at my pending missed opportunity to chat with Simon, I’m honored to report that Simon spent more than my fair share of time speaking with me first, before moving on to the more important visitors. Simon not only talks the talk, he walks the walk. Many thanks.
You’re very kind, thank you Howie.
I’d like to add to Howie’s thank you – My wife and I are lucky enough to shop in NYC maybe once every two years. The next time we go, we will have benefited from this article. Your research and excellent eye for value is great. I still find myself surprised at the higher prices for men’s fashion – though I shouldn’t be due to worldwide inflation in every industry – and I’m very selective about what I choose to add to my wardrobe. Like an earlier poster (Gary) stated… although relatively well off financially I am hesitant to pay the going prices or even the sale prices right now. I would rather buy an item from the very well curated PS Shop than take a chance on an expensive unknown.
But our next visit to NYC will certainly include browsing at some of the shops you offered.
Hi Simon – regarding Todd Snyder, I’d mostly agree with your assessment: I think of them as a step up in fabric quality and construction from mall brands like J. Crew or Uniqlo (better, in my experience, for contemporary but still well-constructed Oxford shirts, and shirts in chambray and chamois and cord). For well-made 5-pocket pants I still go to Sid Mashburn.
Where Todd Snyder could be interesting, though, and where your take could be useful, is in their outerwear (overcoats, trench coats, and leather/suede jackets) where my feeling is they could be a sweet spot of price-to-quality ratio for men looking for something more contemporary. Better-made and designed than most mall brands and not as pricey as Anglo-Italian, Drake’s, PWVC, The Armoury or Stoffa. Their leather and suede jackets tend toward lighter/finer like Valstar, from what I’ve seen.
Would love to know if you have tried and would/wouldn’t recommend them on this category.
Thanks Dan. To be honest I would say with pieces like outerwear, my advice is usually to go with a higher quality brand, as expensive as you can afford. You don’t need much outerwear after all, and I think you normally notice the quality difference more than with basics.
I did try a couple of pieces of the Snyder suede and leather, and while they did seem to be among the better pieces in the shop (Italian made, a little more expensive too) I wouldn’t put them in the same category as any of those other brands, particularly Stoffa
Given your recent interest in Ivy, any chances of a visit to O’Connell’s in Buffalo?
Not soon I’m afraid. I’d love to, but maybe next year
Intrigued as to what you made of Bode – alongside Aime they feel like the most influential mens brand of the last couple of years. I’ve wondered if I’d wear one of their folky shirts with very simple surroundings – grey flannels, navy jacket – but haven’t had the chance to try in person.
I really admire the concept of Bode – there are few brands out there that feel that different. The store is small and there wasn’t really any clothing that appealed, but perhaps that’s inevitable with such a small range. The prices, of course, are also very high.
The thing I liked the most was the alterations shop next door, where people were having Bode clothes and other non-Bode things altered or decorated. Again, I don’t think I’d ever do it, but it’s the kind of brand you’re pleased is out there.
Nice, thanks Simon
In fairness to Todd Snyder, don’t you think they are exactly where they want to be, Simon? They are a step up in style if not always in quality from the struggling American mall brands, aiming to inherit the higher end of the old GAP and J.Crew customer base. I think they exist outside the PS umbrella, but I would say they do so consciously. The way Snyder “partners” with iconic brands like Champion and L.L. Bean has always struck me as vaguely imperial. I say that without judgment, merely observing the expansive aspirations of the company (of which I am a fan, I should note).
Thanks Paul. Yes I can definitely see that. I guess it can look like it’s trying to be more in the PS area, referencing a lot of the same heritage themes and products and magazines, but trying to skip the quality. Equally, it can feel like some of the collaborations are there to give that impression of quality/heritage, but most of the own-brand products don’t live up to that. Like there’ll be one Maffeis shirt on display, but everything else around it isn’t at the same level.
Dear Mr. Crompton,
Given our country’s current economic situation (crisis?), how do you justify travel and clothing costs at this time?
Wow, well that’s a big question. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it justice in a comment, but I guess one thing that’s relevant is that most PS readers are not in the UK – it serves an international audience, with just as many in the US and many in other countries around the world. And I know that even in difficult economic times, readers find the site valuable.
If we waited for the world to be in perfect harmony to enjoy life, we would never enjoy life.
Agreed Tim. But what if our enjoyment (travel, consumption etc) is part of whats pushing that harmony farther and farther away?
Hi Simon speaking of J press have you looked at the J press orignals collection from Japan? They have great button down shirts made in the spirit of brooks brothers of old and west point chinos which look high rise with a full leg. Great stuff all around but unfortunately they only ship within japan!
I have seen it during Pitti, yes, but sadly given that restriction haven’t had any chance to try things in person
Can you include some suggestions for gender neutral trousers please?
Have you seen the Connolly shared wardrobe pieces?
they’re lovely, but a bit pricy.
These are perfect! Thank you!
I always thought if J Press had someone like Jake Grantham to lend his eye/taste to rework their blazer/suits to be even softer with some of his fabric selections and some of their other clothes to basically be an Ivy version of Anglo Italian (flat fronts instead of pleats, modernizing some of the fits on trousers, sweaters etc) it would be much more popular to younger menswear guys especially in the states because quality, like you said, is not the issue. It’s just the cuts/fabric colors/some other things that can be freshened up.
Would you agree Simon? Is that what the Japanese JPress is kind of like?
I’d partly agree, yes. They certainly need that kind of eye, but often I wouldn’t say the cuts or fabrics are the issue, more just the styling of them. There’s plenty in that store I like and would wear. I just wouldn’t wear it in the way anyone in their store or most of their customers would.
The Japanese J Press is better, but is also a little more towards the fashion side.
Quick request for advice if I may – I have the J Press solid grey-herringbone Harris Tweed jacket as mentioned above, I like it in isolation but disappointingly I find it a little hard to match with trousers (surprisingly so, I might add).
All I have that seem to work are mid blue jeans and charcoal flannel. Can you suggest anything I might be overlooking please ? It’s frustrating to buy something and not wear it as much as foreseen.
Sure Lewis, I also wear mine with:
– Dark brown flannels
– Navy flannels
– Pale beige/bone wools
– White/ecru jeans
If you search for ‘grey herringbone’ on PS you’ll find a few examples of me wearing my Anthology one with things like this
Press’s current location at the Yale Club is one block from the old store across from BB, which was indeed dark and sleepy.
As a historical note, which in no way contradicts the above article: their top of the line RTW in the 80s retailed from 600-800 for a simple worsted or flannel, which would be just shy of $2K today. They were very heavily constructed, although loose. I still wear one of them, along with a Donegal tweed with a small cashmere blend, also very heavily constructed, which cost more than the suits. (the label includes the name of the individual weaver, I’ve always wondered if this is standard for Donegal tweed).
I don’t think anyone make suits like this any more, except perhaps on commission. The current offerings do give a good idea of the historical style, and I agree that the new business model is very much in line with Cordings (which I assume underwent a similar evolution, but I only know it’s current, and delightful, incarnation).
Thank you, great context.
It isn’t standard for donegal tweeds to include the name of the weaver, no. Some people do do it, but I can imagine it would be something that a non-British brand in particular would like to include to give some personal flavour of where the cloth came from.
I would say the label was included with the bundle. From what I can tell, almost no such tweed today is handwoven.
At the time, Press was essentially a large tailor shop. Not in any sense what you call a brand. Pretty much all of George Bush Senior suits during this time are from them.
Thanks, yes I’ve seen those labels before.
I think there is quite a bit that’s still handwoven, as in it’s not too hard to find, even if it’s of course a tiny proportion of the market. Crofts in Lewis and Harris are the place to find them. The original PS tweed we did was woven in that fashion, as covered here