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.