I’ve always considered Jack Spade to be like some sort of Norman Rockwell with a pulp colored palette. Rockwell’s canvases immortalized this idyllic, ever-presently nostalgic sense of America, that I think is shared by Jack Spade and their line of candy striped shirts, and combed out sweaters. And yet, as I entered the Jack Spade showroom on Monday afternoon, what I saw in front of me wasn’t so much Rockwell as it was Ray and Charles Eames. With the brand now well into their second decade, I suppose it only makes sense that Jack Spade would draw inspiration from the design world’s first power couple. After all it was the clean lines and primary colors of the Eames’ work that helped usher this country from our quaint Rockwellian days into the brave new world.
As for the collection itself, the Eames influence was most visible in the warm tones and geometric shapes that were littered throughout the knitwear and shirting. What stood out for me though wasn’t really these overt allusions to the Eames’, but it was what has always drawn me to any Jack Spade collection: outerwear and suiting. The first outerwear piece I saw was this color blocked puffer jacket that looked almost looked like a blown up version of this Osh Kosh B’Gosh jacket I had as a kid. On the other end of the spectrum was a window-paned, double breasted overcoat with respectable notch lapels, the sort of workhorse jacket that could occupy the coat hanger in your office for the next decade or so. In between these two extremes lied a black calfskin bomber jacket with olive drab ribbing, and the latest installment in Spade’s collaboration with Barbour. Using the classic olive green Barbour as a foundation, Spade added in their signature safety orange for the lining, and contrasting patches throughout, for the piece that felt like both a nod to the brand’s past, as well as a look forward.
On the tailored front, not surprisingly, the two standouts came from Spade’s partnership with Southwick. Spade was one of the first contemporary brands to team up with Southwich, and so I was glad to see that they’re still producing at least some of their suiting in one of the last such factories left in the Sates. Both blazers, one in a grey herringbone and the other in a camel guncheck, are made up at Southwick’s factory in Massachusetts, are entirely unlined, and unlike some of Spade’s competitors, actually feature properly sized lapels. They look like the sort of thing that you’d salvage from the yard sale of some sixties Ivy league professor, take to the tailor, and then count the number of times that you were asked “Hey, where’d you get that,” while never telling the truth of course. Or better yet, just tell them you picked it up from Charles Eames.