"My philosophy is: As the face gets worse -- The clothes have to get better." Steve Martin
Two years ago Jeremy Dean from Urban Outfitters was introduced to Mark McNairy from J. Press. What comes to mind is the, "You got your peanut butter on my chocolate." "You got your chocolate on my peanut butter" Reese's Cup commercials. I love Reese's Cups but I'm not so sure about this collaboration.
McNairy and Dean hit on this idea of Urban Outfitters putting out a budget J. Press line with all the right details but at a lower price point. No different from Brooks Brothers and Brooksgate of the '80s or RL's Rugby of today. Cheap clothes for kids without a lot of money but hitting 12 on the style meter via not so subtle design tweaks. Already, I'm too old for this.
But they're not making it for me. Hell, they're not making it for themselves. The pant has one of the lowest rises I've ever seen. The fly looks like it's 3" long. If you're a gal looking for a khaki this just might be your ticket. Same with the wool Black Watch and grey flannel.
I can't imagine anyone with an appendage south of the belly button getting into these pants. It's a great price but you sacrifice comfort for the goods. The hand is rough and not unlike the winter wool trousers I was issued in the army. I wore those once in four years.
The blazer has the right details. Working buttons on the sleeve, a patch pocket and the required narrow lapel. But again, the wool comes up short. Pea coat-like and a lint magnet but it may be hard for a 19 year old to walk away from $148. Or, the parent who's looking to spend as little as possible on a blazer with the kid who'll never walk into Brooks or Jos. Bank.
There's a definite target audience here but the shirts may turn everyone off. Details galore. Flap pocket, three button collar, university stripe but all wonky. The collar is too short like the Rugby button down of a year ago. It looks flat and soulless. There's a cheapness here but I've been spoiled by David Mercer -- so again -- I am not anywhere near this area of operation. You can buy two of these for every one Mercer. And what 19 year old can walk away from that? If you're over 30 -- consider the Mercer.
Onward Kashiyama designed the collection for Urban Outfitters citing influence from the movie, Animal House (I see it) and the TV series, Happy Days (I don't). Onward insisted the collection be made by Urban Outfitter's vendors in China. That's interesting. It makes me wonder if this isn't a trial balloon of a Rugby / Brooksgate line for J. Press. It's not a bad idea if the quality with Urban stumbles.
There are scarves ($38), the required narrow ties ($34) as well as a couple Shaggy Dogs ($78) I didn't see. What I did see and liked was the Black Watch golf jacket($118) -- and I hate golf. It's perfect except for a cheesy lining with bizarre J. Press smiley faces. Jeremy was quick to point out that was a Onward design. Still, it's a great looking jacket perfect for Fall and even Winter if you live down south. It's traditional, hasn't been screwed with and while the design is understated -- the Black Watch speaks to its Trad origins. The kids should hate it.
For me, "less is more" is an ideal I strive for. In writing, cooking, clothes, cocktails, just about anything in life except for a pay check. I might even apply it to my diet someday. For under $500, you can kit yourself out pretty well with this line. Blazer, couple shirts and trousers, ties, belts, etc.
For the same $500, you'll get a blazer at J. Press. On sale. I don't see J. Press going the way of Pierre Cardin. What concerns me are the issues of the quality. When I buy the golf jacket and it falls apart in less than a year... I won't blame J. Press. That's not to say others won't.
Look for it at select Urban Outfitters in early December - -If you're young and good looking.