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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I just received Press's fall catalog, and I want every item in it. Yes, every item. It is beautiful. Everything is perfect --- or at least it looks perfect.

Here is the problem with J.Press: it's the pricing, stupid!

J.Press prices many items (e.g., regular OCBDs and broadcloth shirts) too high -- a good $15 higher than comparable shirts from BB. That gives many the impression that it's "elitist" and "expensive", and probably dissuades many uneducated buyers.

But then J.Press underprices many items as well -- ties for under $60, top-line suits barely $1K, what look like beautiful tweeds in the catalog (Pressclusive and Presstige lines) all under $600. These prices are dead giveaways to those who understand clothes that the quality ain't there -- that it can't be there. No full canvas sport jacket sells for under $800 at full retail in the US (if I'm wrong, prove it). So anyone who knows their stuff realizes that J.Press tailored clothing, regardless of the beauty of the tweeds, is probably at J.A.B. level of construction. My point here is that J.Press could be a more traditional Paul Stuart -- and I bet the customers exist (I'm one). Just use the same tweeds but manufacture at Samuelsohn levels of construction, and feel free to charge Sammy prices.

And then you find ridiculously priced things (reminiscent of Cable Car Clothiers) like Viyella shirts for $160 (https://jpressonline.com/shirts_casual_detail.php?ix=27) where USA-made Viyella can be had for under $125 from most any other retailer. How about the Barbour Beaufort they're offering for $395, which is available from Orvis and most other dealers for $350 or something like that? J.Press's Cambridge location is literally a block away from the Andover Shop, which prices these items at the "correct" prices. In NYC, you can walk to Fifth Ave. to Orvis to find Barbour and Viyella priced correctly. Press doesn't exactly have price-insensitive customers, so why these oversights??? The Viyellas from fall 2006 were still sitting in the Cambridge store in July 2008, priced at $160.

There are also things like this beautiful scotch grain belt (https://jpressonline.com/accessories_belts_leather_detail.php?ix=1) which I wanted the second I saw it in the catalog, but then decided I probably wouldn't even buy on 25% off sale, as it's $135 at full retail, which is the same price C&J charges for its belts (much nicer belts too, probably)! This belt should not be priced a penny over $80, and probably closer to $69.99.

Press has been smart on pricing on a few big-ticket items...for example, they've brought back their Henry White reversible trench-tweed coats (https://jpressonline.com/outerwear_coats_detail.php?ix=4) but been keen enough to realize that NO ONE else sells them (except maybe NOS at O'Connell's) so they've raised the price from $650 (the 2006 Fall/Winter price) to $890 (Press did not carry this coat in 2007).

So what do I buy at Press? Many things. And I'll probably splurge on one of those Henry Whites because they're so cool. But most of what I buy consists of items I can't find anywhere else, which are also at what I consider to be a bargain. For example:

1. Repp striped ties (perfect width, made in UK, under $60)
2. Print ties (no one carries classic patterns like Press anymore)
3. Wool pants: flannel in the winter, tropical in the summer (Press has literally the least expensive dress pants I've found, at under $160 at full retail, and they're flat front and relatively slim, and 1.75" cuffs are the default when they're tailored)
4. Socks: campus ribbed heel & toe () and wool/Fair Isle socks (), usually on 25% off sale. These are all made in England and better than any other socks I've seen, anywhere, in terms of durability (excluding white athletic socks) and feel

That's it. I'm just ruminating. Would love to hear others' thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Well, for one, because they need to be financially viable in order to stay in business.

They could lower prices on many items, bringing in dollars from those who find it too expensive.

The other option is keeping prices where they are (or even raising them) but also raising quality. That would bring in a different kind of customer, perhaps more lucrative, since it is the customers who can pay more who usually like the types of clothes Press sells.

I want a blue blazer, but I go to Paul Stuart because their shoulders are better and they're product is full canvas. I want a cashmere sweater, I go to Brooks, Paul Stuart, or STP, because these options are all either better price or quality. I want a Barbour, I go to Orvis or the UK. I want Viyella, I go to the Andover Shop. I want a suit RTW, I go Paul Stuart. I want shirts, I go to BB, Harvie & Hudson, BB MTM, or some other MTM. Why? Because those options all have better price-to-quality ratios than the corresponding items at Press. My point is that Press could get ALL these sales from me (and I would LOVE to give them my business on these items) if it would adjust the price-to-quality ratio of its offerings. I wonder how many are in the same boat...

One thing Press does well (but only out of its NYC store) is Greenfield MTM. That's exactly the sort of thing they should be offering throughout their collection. Pressidential suits should be Greenfield (compete with - and beat - BB GF), Presstige should be Southwick.
 

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Well, for one, because they need to be financially viable in order to stay in business.

They could lower prices on many items, bringing in dollars from those who find it too expensive.

The other option is keeping prices where they are (or even raising them) but also raising quality. That would bring in a different kind of customer, perhaps more lucrative, since it is the customers who can pay more who usually like the types of clothes Press sells.

I want a blue blazer, but I go to Paul Stuart because their shoulders are better and they're product is full canvas. I want a cashmere sweater, I go to Brooks, Paul Stuart, or STP, because these options are all either better price or quality. I want a Barbour, I go to Orvis or the UK. I want Viyella, I go to the Andover Shop. I want a suit RTW, I go Paul Stuart. I want shirts, I go to BB, Harvie & Hudson, BB MTM, or some other MTM. Why? Because those options all have better price-to-quality ratios than the corresponding items at Press. My point is that Press could get ALL these sales from me (and I would LOVE to give them my business on these items) if it would adjust the price-to-quality ratio of its offerings. I wonder how many are in the same boat...

One thing Press does well (but only out of its NYC store) is Greenfield MTM. That's exactly the sort of thing they should be offering throughout their collection. Pressidential suits should be Greenfield (compete with - and beat - BB GF), Presstige should be Southwick.
I think there's little to no overlap between J. Press and Paul Stuart customers. J. Press has a '50's traditional aesthetic that's so conservative it's radical. And the quality is what 40 years ago would have been described as middle-of-the-road department store.

Many Paul Stuart items are superior luxury products, though at very high prices. And their aesthetic is strongly influenced by European trends, and less and less related to American traditional clothing. The silhouette of Paul Stuart's jackets have become very trendy with extra wide hard shoulders and sharply suppressed waists. They are essentially a Manhattan menswear retailer, catering to Manhattan tastes and Wall Street bonuses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Flanderian, I think you're correct in your observation that there is little overlap in PS and Press customers, but you're not attributing the right cause to that phenomenon.

The reason there is no overlap is because the people who buy PS want quality, quality which Press doesn't offer. However, many PS customers grew up on Press, attended campuses on which a Press is situated, and likely wish that PS offered clothes closer to what Press offers, just better quality. Paul Stuart offers many nice things, some of which are just plain weird, others nearly unwearable unless you're in a retirement community in Florida.

Remember that most men aren't too active in their clothing selections. They go to BB because that's where everyone else who dresses properly and has a respectable job goes. When they get a bit older, perhaps earn higher salaries, and if they live in NYC, they go to Paul Stuart, because that's what a man of a certain circle does. So, in a way, Paul Stuart is chosen for many of its customers, not the other way around. If Paul Stuart offered more traditional American clothing, these men would still shop there. Similarly, if Press offered clothes of better quality, then PRESS would be the place people just go, and Paul Stuart might not be.

My point is that Press misses out on an opportunity in the US market.
 

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Press marks everything down 25% for nearly 6 months out of the year. Its not surprising that they would automatically mark things like Viyella or Barbour up 25% at the beginning of the season and just not sell anything untill sale time.
 

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Flanderian, I think you're correct in your observation that there is little overlap in PS and Press customers, but you're not attributing the right cause to that phenomenon.

The reason there is no overlap is because the people who buy PS want quality, quality which Press doesn't offer. However, many PS customers grew up on Press, attended campuses on which a Press is situated, and likely wish that PS offered clothes closer to what Press offers, just better quality. Paul Stuart offers many nice things, some of which are just plain weird, others nearly unwearable unless you're in a retirement community in Florida.

Remember that most men aren't too active in their clothing selections. They go to BB because that's where everyone else who dresses properly and has a respectable job goes. When they get a bit older, perhaps earn higher salaries, and if they live in NYC, they go to Paul Stuart, because that's what a man of a certain circle does. So, in a way, Paul Stuart is chosen for many of its customers, not the other way around. If Paul Stuart offered more traditional American clothing, these men would still shop there. Similarly, if Press offered clothes of better quality, then PRESS would be the place people just go, and Paul Stuart might not be.

My point is that Press misses out on an opportunity in the US market.
I do agree with your observations about the quality difference having shopped at both PS and Press. However, beyond the quality is a different style as well.

Press still offers the TNSIL look although my understanding is that the have strayed from the NS for a time and come back to it. PS offers more of Anglo look with the suppressed waist and double vents. My PS suits both have great natural shoulders. Maybe if PS moved to more of a TNSIL look many of its customers would be oblivious. I don't know.
 

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While I would like to see Press, the Andover Shop, or someone offer the merchandise you describe at great prices there doesn't seem to be much of a market for that. I think part of the problem is retailers still want to carry suits in inventory and charge a premium for mtm when the total cost for mtm has to be the same or less then otr, given the lower costs for the retailer, perhaps a tad higher for the maker. There is also less of a demand for suits these days, and even more so quality suits, so the volume is less. I myself haven't worn one since February and likely won't until mid-september. Ten to 15 years ago, I wore one 5 days a week.

On second thought, you might like Zareh's in Boston, not "trad" but traditional with Hickey and Oxxford if you are after suits.
 

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Flanderian, I think you're correct in your observation that there is little overlap in PS and Press customers, but you're not attributing the right cause to that phenomenon.

The reason there is no overlap is because the people who buy PS want quality, quality which Press doesn't offer. However, many PS customers grew up on Press, attended campuses on which a Press is situated, and likely wish that PS offered clothes closer to what Press offers, just better quality. Paul Stuart offers many nice things, some of which are just plain weird, others nearly unwearable unless you're in a retirement community in Florida.

Remember that most men aren't too active in their clothing selections. They go to BB because that's where everyone else who dresses properly and has a respectable job goes. When they get a bit older, perhaps earn higher salaries, and if they live in NYC, they go to Paul Stuart, because that's what a man of a certain circle does. So, in a way, Paul Stuart is chosen for many of its customers, not the other way around. If Paul Stuart offered more traditional American clothing, these men would still shop there. Similarly, if Press offered clothes of better quality, then PRESS would be the place people just go, and Paul Stuart might not be.

My point is that Press misses out on an opportunity in the US market.
Sorry, I can't agree. While I think your point about Press' pricing being a bit quixotic is absolutely right, Press would not attract Paul Stuart's customers simply by raising their prices. I was a customer of the original J. Press, and have been a Paul Stuart customer for about 40 years.

While there are undeniably Paul Stuart customers who shop there primarily because it's costly, and others because their boss mentioned it, most are looking for something they think is hip. J. Press is not, never was and never could be hip to these customers. More are likely to have been one time J. Crew, GAP or Polo customers than former Press customers. Press uses its one-time close relationship with students of certain universities as part of an image to market its products. And while some of its original locations remain, any such relationship disappeared well over 25 years ago.

In addition to those who have shopped at Paul Stuart for all the wrong reasons, are some who've shopped there for better ones. Paul Stuart has seen better days, but which retailer hasn't? Among it's sartorial faux pas, and recent regrettable excessive obeisance to the trendoids, there is still some superb design and materials that J. Press can't dream of, and never could.

 

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Who makes the J. Press Presidential line suits and sport coats anyway? I have heard Southwick, but the last time I was in NYC, the Prestige line seemed straight Southwick, the tag on the 2 button darted model even said Dorset, so I think the Presidential line must be something better. When ever I ask on the construction of the Presidential suits, I get a vague, canvassed, some fusing, you know Hickey has fusing too line. Similar story around the corner from the Andover Shop. All this is why I buy GF's on sale, I know what I am getting and on sale, no one comes close on price. It would be nice indeed to have a store along the lines of your "dream J. Press."
 

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(Henry White reversible, although I don't know if the price is up to date > www.eddiejacobsltd.com/reversible_overcoat.htm I seem to recall other HW stock at Eddie Jacobs. Henry White used to have a functioning web site which listed stockists, don't know what happened ( www.henrywhite.ie ). Are we sure ol' Henry's extant? STP used to have a substantial surplus of HW, now just one pair of ladies trous.

You might enquire @ O'Connell's of Invertere reversibles.)
 
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