For me, New York Fashion Week, and really all fashion week’s in general, bring about the disconnect between what is wearable and what is simply admirable. Even taking cost out of the equation for a moment, there’s this notion of “how far outside the norm can I go,” and when it really comes down to it, I love so much of what I see during NYFW, but I rarely end up buying that much of it. Yet with what I saw a few days ago, this year is a bit different because, If I suffer from a condition of appreciation over action, then J. Press’ York Street collection was the antidote to all that.
There is not one piece from York Street that I could not see myself in. Going over the collection, I knew exactly where Ariel and Shimon Ovadia (the duo behind Ovadia & Sons that designed York Street for J. Press) were coming from, and what they were looking towards. York Street is as much a nod to an American sportswear past ala sixties J. Press, as it is to a more creative and ingenious future, and that’s something that strikes a resounding chord with me.
I have always respected J. Press, but mainly for their past and what their designs once meant, and that certainly doesn’t mean I have any desire to go into one of their stale stores and pick up a boxy suit, or an oversized shirt , and it seems like the brothers Ovadia approached this collection with a similar attitude. It’s as if Ariel and Shimon are dusting off the cobwebs on a complacent brand, and finally stirring J. Press back to life. This is not a simple matter of slimming down and taking in, the Ovadia’s are playing catch up for J. Press’ past few dormant decades. York Street is a new interpretation of what it means to be young and well-dressed in America, it’s well-fitting, original, and filled with enough personality to show you weren’t dressed by your father (or his tailor.)
The tailoring is cut down and filled with just the right amount of structure, designed to drape in a way that’s flattering, not concealing. It’s the tones of these jackets and suits, not lost in overwrought textures, but clean and authoritative, (particularly a killer Air Force blue) that are evident of the collection’s thoughtful simplicity that makes it all very easy to wear. The slim lines of the trousers keep the more contemporary theme of York Street going, especially when stacked up to mainline J. Press’ barrel cut dress pants. For once, this collection had some sweat pants I would actually consider wearing, a heather grey pair that seemed to be constructed to masquerade as a chino. The shirts and knits were tighter to the body but stayed true to J. Press’ traddy heritage-blue oxfords, fair isle sweaters, and even the occasional polo throughout, yet it was nice to see these pieces actually fitting by more realistic modern standards. Finally, it was the outerwear that really drove the collection home for me, including my single favorite piece: a hip length fireman jacket. I hate to make comparisons, especially considering how much the Ovadia’s are likened to a young Ralph Lauren, but these jacket’s reminded me a great deal of Polo’s famous nineties-era fireman coats, which is in my opinion one of the best winter coats ever designed, so it was nice to see the Ovadia’s paying homage to it a bit. The Ovadia’s also did their own take on the ever-popular beige blouson, the basic navy trench, and even a moto-jacket that was like the baby brother of their own line’s notorious yellow version.
York Street represents just another extraordinary accomplishment for the Ovadia brothers. In just a few short years they’ve established one of the best menswear brands out there right now, helped continue the revival of the well-dressed American man, built up an impressive fan base, and now have helped to resurrect an east coast clothing institution that was well on it’s way to fading out all together. With York Street’s accessible price point and quality manufacturing (from what I’ve heard most of it is in made in states) it’s a relief to see an entire collection of impeccably designed goods that struggling twenty somethings, such as myself can actually afford.