Jay Kos is one of the reasons I started OTC. I first read about him in GQ, it was a one page profile titled “Would you buy a homburg form this guy?” or something to that effect.
Back in 1996, with no formal retail background or fashion/design training, Jay opened the eponymous ‘Jay Kos’ store on Lexington Avenue on the upper East Side in Manhattan. His quirky monkey-suit logo was a hint of the creative expansiveness behind the decidedly Anglophile tweeds and flannel.
Jay wasn’t even 30 at the time and in many ways his audacity to craft a highly curated and opinionated menswear boutique presaged the popular trend we now see today. He’s often said that he would rather turn away a short-term sale in favor of the long-term customer who appreciates style and has some sartorial guts (I’m paraphrasing on that bit, but you get the point).
Jay Kos offered its visitors a bit of English polish, Italian swagger and American energy all rolled into an unmistakably New York aesthetic. The small but packed store was part living room, part dressing room and a treasure trove of high quality garments, including Jay’s private labeled suits (Italian of course).
Later, he opened a shop on Park Avenue, conveniently close to Pierre Marcolini’s New york outlet. Now fully relocated to Midtown, Jay is prepping for a new downtown location with, apparently, a new feel. The great video below showcases Jay’s other passion: food. It also shows a new side of his personality and style philosophy.
I’ve met him a few times and we chatted once about the then-brand new J. Crew Liqueur Store concept for men. We each wondered if it would do well… The Jay Kos of back then was slightly more buttoned-up and Cary Grant-ish in style. Today we see a nearly bohemian Jay Kos who would be at home in the streets of Rome, haunting the farmers markets on two wheels and looking great nonetheless.
Can’t wait to see the new shop. Calling on Scott Schuman – time to update your Jay Kos pics.