Seattle hip-hop visionary and Men’s Shop Daily guest editor Thig Nat (short for “Natural”) returns with field-tested tips on how to pack for outdoor music festivals—a pertinent summertime quandary, especially for a fest that takes you from sweating in the crowd (or onstage, as the case may be) to overnight camping amidst cool winds coming off a 4,000-foot canyon.
From Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade to rapper Kendrick Lamar to our friends at Street Etiquette, we’ve been seeing men everywhere sporting one of our favorite new evolutions in male leg coverings (otherwise known as pants): Jogger Pants. And it’s easy to understand why: Besides being abnormally comfortable (many have elastic at the waist as well as the cuffs), they cut a lean, tapered silhouette that shows off your favorite shoes, without pesky concerns about rolling or hemming your pant leg.
Keep reading to see three ways to wear them: on the weekend, at the office, and for a night out.
We spent a week this summer invading the offices and going inside the minds of six American menswear heroes. In our fifth installment, Jack Spade creative director Cuan Hanly (that’s pronounced “COO-in,” if you’re curious) discusses Charles Eames, growing up in Ireland and style that’s tough enough for a hardware store.
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: Legend has it that Jack Spade started by making bags—and selling them in a perhaps-unexpected venue.
CUAN HANLY OF JACK SPADE: We sold our first bag in 1997, and it was sold at a hardware store. I think the idea was to put bags in the hands of people who actually use bags, and who use ‘em for function. So it was the idea of a builder, a painter, an architect having a bag—and it was primarily a tote bag at that point—that could be multifunctional. It was something that would carry tile samples around, but then equally, you could bring it to work and use it in the office. So that was really the origin, and then over the years, the bag range developed greatly—outside just the tote shape, and outside the hardware element. But it’s always been about timeless functionality—stuff that always works and continues to work.
Jack Spade bags have earned kind of a cult status.
We have people coming into our stores that have had our bags for eight or ten years, and now they’re broken-in and battered, but they absolutely love them—because it represents that kind of journey and experience with a product or an object carried with you.
Eventually, around 2009 [when Cuan came on board], you guys started rolling out clothing in addition to bags. Is the same “form meets function” philosophy reflected there as well?
I believe so. It’s something that we focus on a lot. We select raw materials that have durability. We concentrate on the way things are constructed in our design process. So, yeah, I feel like we want the apparel to act in the same way as the bags—in the sense that it becomes a favorite shirt or favorite jacket or favorite pair of trousers that you’re gonna go back to all the time.
What inspired you and the Jack Spade team when you were designing the fall collection?
We were very interested in the crossover in the creative world, of work and play, and the kind of blurred boundaries if you’re working in a creative environment—that really you never stop thinking about it, whether you’re at home or at work. We did a photo shoot with an artist called Geoff McFetridge. He’s a graphic artist out in L.A. It’s just interesting seeing how he lives his life—he’ll go surfing in the morning, then he’ll go to work, and it’s just kind of a complete blurred line.
How did that play out in some of the pieces?
Following what I said about bringing the concept of “play” into it, we have what we’re calling our Tangram pattern. [Case for iPhone here; sweater coming soon.] It’s like where you take little blocks of wood, and you create shapes out of it. Actually, it’s supposed to be like a little flying bird. So that was a motif that we used throughout. We’re pretty well-known for color and pattern, so we wanted to bring that in, but in a way that remains wearable, because it can go un-wearable very easily. We got such a phenomenal response for this sweater.
Well, people love tangrams. What led you to choose that as a theme?
We were also a bit influenced by Ray and Charles Eames, because their creative environment was very much [a blurred line between work and play]. They did a lot of toys. They used to do the House of Cards and so on, so this kinda felt like it was a follow-up from that—taking essentially what are kids’ toys but doing them in a way that makes them feel a little more intellectual and sophisticated.
There’s a great leather jacket in the collection.
It’s Italian lambskin. One of the things we’re really interested in is how product wears and how the user affects the product. So, we don’t tend to break our product in too heavily before people buy it. We love the fact that if you wore this, and if I wore this—or if you carried one of our wax bags and I also carried it over a period of a couple years—they would look completely different, ’cause we have different lifestyles, and we use them in different ways. So, we like the aging process. We like the way that things age [depending on] how a customer uses them.
Of course Jack Spade is still making great bags. Which pieces are you looking forward to for fall?
Definitely feeling a big drive toward briefcases. So we have our classic Waxwear, which is this guy [above left]… our slim brief. With technology these days, iPads and so on, a guy doesn’t need a really big briefcase anymore. He’s carrying less from a paperwork point of view. We’ve been using waxed canvas for a long time, and it just has such a beautiful character. I think it’s better and better the more you use it. Again, it’s our fascination with how things age and wear, and waxed canvas is just one of those things that really wears in beautifully and becomes like an old friend the more you use it.
It’s apparent in some of your accessories that Jack Spade is funny. Has a sense of humor always been part of the brand?
I think it’s always been there. It’s something that attracted me… from the outside, before I joined the brand [in 2009]. I think it’s not a juvenile humor; it’s self-effacing humor. We like to refer to it as an unexpected wit. It’s a little bit of a surprise, ’cause I do think our customer is interested in discovery and in finding things that they’re not expecting to see. You’ll find cards in your [Jack Spade] wallet, when you buy your wallet, that have the top-ten chess moves—little things like that.
In addition to bags and clothes, Jack Spade launched a line of watches this past year. What sets Jack Spade watches apart?
All of the metal-case watches are Swiss movement, so we get the interior from Switzerland. They’re sapphire-crystal faces, so basically anything but a diamond is not going to scratch your watch. We developed this guy, which we call the Dual Time. This is actually a movement that we developed ourselves. It’s got an internal rotating bezel, and by turning the fourth hand, you can set a second time zone, and it keeps in sync with the main movement, so you can look at two time zones on one face. It’s based on an old ’50s pilot watch that I have.
What does it mean when we hear “Swiss-made” or “Swiss movement” when it comes to watches?
It’s just the level of quality, really. That’s the main thing. Switzerland is the mecca of watchmaking. Generally, our products are a lot about the functionality, the durability and the quality of the product, so we felt it was appropriate for our watches to have that.
For guys with less money to invest in a top-quality watch, you have options under $100, too.
We launched with what we’re calling our ‘Graphic’ watches. These retail at $98. They’re a great opportunity for the brand to show its personality. [For example], the ‘Graphic’ watches are not Swiss movement; they’re Japanese movement. So what we put on it is “No jewels, not Swiss.” We never try to be something that we’re not, so it’s important that, when we do something like this, we’re not pretending—it just is what it is. So we kind of embrace the high and low of things, in a big way.
Do you have a watch collection of your own?
I do. I probably have over 30, ranging from top-end to low-end. I picked up an old Elgin in a flea market in L.A. That was kind of one of my better finds, ‘cause it was in one of those boxes where they’ve taken the straps off and it’s just the cases. And I spotted ‘em and had a quick look at it, and I was like, “Hmm, this looks really good.” It’s an automatic one, and it was still working. The guy looked like he knew [his stuff], ‘cause he had other, much higher-level watches out. And he said $30, so I was like, “Will you do it for $25?” and he said yes. So that was a little bit of a prize “get.”
You guys use a lot of color, but it doesn’t feel loud.
We tend to build our own color palettes. We don’t really follow color trends, so we create a lot of our patterns and colors ourselves, so I think that’s something that our customer comes to us for. They’re not gonna see this type of pattern anywhere else. The color combinations feel interesting. We don’t always put the “right” colors together, which I think is something that people kind of like.
This sweater has an interesting effect—with some interesting colors.
It’s a bit like a Donegal tweed but, as you can see, pulling out colors that you wouldn’t normally see in a Donegal, like the bright green and bright pink and so on.
For the layperson, could you define what Donegal means?
It’s just basically where you take a darker color and you shoot brighter colors through it. So they’ll pick different-colored yarns and feed it through while they’re weaving, and you get these kind of little small specks of color. I mean, I think originally it probably represented the moss on the heath in Donegal. I guess that’s where it came from originally. Don’t quote me on that! [Sorry, Cuan.] But being from Ireland, I think that’s what it looks like.
How do you utilize these giant fabric books [pictured above]?
They’re all vintage. They’re pretty incredible. You can take patterns off them and work them in different fabrications. I’ve got about 30 of these books that we dive into when we need to. “Spring 1969″—these are a little crazy. We got some great color inspiration from them as well. You can pull color palettes out of them. I also collect scarves. They’re a great source for swimwear patterns.
You guys have an interesting collection of artwork and memorabilia around the office.
We just collect them anywhere and everywhere: eBay, flea markets, vintage stores. There are two or three of us who do a lot of the collecting, and we just amalgamate and collect stuff all the time. Collecting is a big part of the team and the brand, so we just continue the art collection. Generally, it’s just stuff that has a little element of humor to it or kind of an odd sense to it. We like oversized things as well. In the prop room, you’ll see some things that are kind of oddly sized. As I say, it’s a collection of the classic but equally the slightly odd.
How do you and your team find time to go thrift-shopping? Do you pencil it in as dedicated research work?
Yeah, we do. We do road trips to particular things. We’ve done a few to L.A, and then… you know, flea markets on the weekend, or you just see stuff. eBay is a great source for stuff… I just love the idea that some things people completely disregard, we find really interesting. You know, one man’s fat is another man’s meat. Or is it the other way around?
For eBay, it seems like you’d need to have a specific item in mind that you’re searching for.
My watch list is very extensive. Some of them work well, but eBay is always a little bit risky. I remember I was buying—don’t ask me why I was buying it—but it was just this beautiful brass doorknob, and it was supposed to be off one of the cathedrals in Boston. And it was only like a dollar, so I was like, let’s get it. And it took ages to arrive. And three or four weeks later, I just got this little envelope, and it was kinda handwritten, and it was basically a postcard of the doorknob, and that’s what I had bought. So you never know. Sometimes you fall afoul of eBay, but most of the time you get pretty interesting stuff.
Any other tips on vintage-shopping?
It’s a lot of fun. I do a lot of it. If you spoke to my wife… it’s like, I’ll come home with more jackets, and she’s like, “Didn’t you just buy one of those?” I’m like, “The pockets are different. That’s very important.” Luckily, we have a basement.
What was it like growing up in Dublin?
It was great. I mean, it’s a fantastic town. It’s an odd combination of feeling like a small village where everybody knows everybody—but it’s a capital city, so it has that bigger-city vibe to it as well. So it was a really nice combination of closeness to family, but then feeling like you were part of a bigger strata across the world of capital cities. We try to go back there twice a year.
How did you go about becoming the creative director of Jack Spade?
I studied design in college, and then I worked for a long time with Paul Smith in the UK. My wife’s American, and we moved over to New York about seven and a half years ago, and I started working as a creative director at Original Penguin. I was there for just under three years. And then, I basically always loved Jack and what it represented, and at that time they were looking for somebody to head up the brand. So I came on board about five years ago.
Were you always interested in clothing and style?
Yeah, I think so. I was certainly interested in design and architecture, photography, clothes. So, it wasn’t necessarily specifically about clothes, but it was just a broader sense of design and aesthetic—that’s always been a big interest of mine. And I do a lot of photography personally, so that’s something that’s close to my heart as well. So, it’s just a general fascination and love of design across a lot of different disciplines.
What made you choose to be a design major in college?
I think it was an interesting combination, because there’s a technical side to clothing—design and construction and raw material. I was always very interested in architecture as well, and it felt like almost kind of architecture for the body—the way you construct things and the way you design ‘em and the technical side of it. So that’s always fascinated me and, I think, drew me to it.
Did you dress well as a kid in high school?
I guess. You’d have to ask my friends!
Were there school uniforms back in Dublin?
There were, yes. I kind of [liked them] in a way, because they were super classic… black blazer and gray trousers.
Did you and your classmates do things to kind of personalize the uniforms?
To a certain extent. Not too much, but… wearing trousers a little shorter or untucking shirts. That was about the extent that we were allowed. The tie undone was a big thing I always remember.
What else were you into growing up? Music? Sports?
I grew up listening to a lot of Van Morrison… Neil Young… and a little bit of Led Zeppelin, so kind of a broad spectrum of stuff. And I did play a lot of sports—a lot of cricket when I was younger. That was a big part of my youth—which obviously has a uniform also. I got hit pretty badly as a kid [playing cricket], smashed my nose up. The batsman just—bang—straight to my face. But it’s a great game. It’s like a game of chess… I guess it’s like any sport—when you’re into it, you can tell the subtleties and the nuances of what people are doing and what the impact of those are gonna be.
You guys have a Galaga-slash-Ms. Pac-Man arcade machine here in your well-appointed employee break room. Do you hold the high score?
It doesn’t log the high score. I’m one of the people who plays it most, though. Galaga is one of my favorites. It’s great. We’ve set it so you can basically just keep playing, no quarters required.
Who are your top style icons of all time?
Oh, let’s see. I think Cary Grant is definitely—do you know the movie To Catch a Thief? You should definitely see it. It’s pretty amazing. So, yeah, he would be up there. Just again, that kind of really super-classic, simple but great color combinations. Not afraid of pattern. On-screen and off-screen, just beautifully perfected style. JFK obviously was another—an American icon. And going into, you know, Jackson Pollock and people like that, where it’s a little bit left of center in their design aesthetic—or their clothing aesthetic as well.
Who’s that grizzled gent in the black-and-white photo there [pictured two photos up]?
Edmund Hillary—explorer, Mount Everest. That was one of the kind of kick-off thoughts about our holiday concept, ’cause it’s the anniversary of them conquering Mount Everest, Hillary and Tenzing. Obviously, he wore amazing mountaineering gear, but then he’s got this really nice kind of softened English-tweed aesthetic in his non-mountaineering wear. So, an interesting guy.
How about a design icon? I see Dieter Rams referenced on your office wall.
His design philosophy was pretty amazing—less design is more. And you think, with Apple and where they’ve gone with a lot of their product, I think it’s drawing a lot of influence from him. Just the simplicity of it. It certainly resonates with me: as little design as possible.
— — —
SHOP ALL: JACK SPADE
[Photos by Robin Stein. Interview by Justin Abbott.
Special thanks to Cuan Hanly and the Jack Spade team.]
Ever wonder how your favorite menswear designers deal with oppressive summer heat? The New York Times has answers from Michael Bastian, Billy Reid, Todd Snyder and more with a new article this week.
We should have asked the same thing—when we were literally in these guys’ offices earlier this summer, traversing a humid, 100-degree NYC (plus a brief stop in LA) to get inside the minds of the men who create the ahead-of-the-curve, superb-quality, totally timeless men’s clothing you know and love (and if you don’t know—you should).
We touched on the glory of air-conditioning, and the merits of cold ginger ale—but from there the discussion turned from Summer to Fall. Stay tuned to Men’s Shop Daily in the coming weeks for an insider’s look at our favorite Fall collections—plus, find out who owns a machete, who used to work construction, whose power animal is a pug…and much, much more.
[Photos courtesy of @NordstromMen on Instagram.]
You know how a lot of product crossovers are woefully misguided? Like green ketchup, or clear Pepsi? Then, there’s that rare individual who can do no wrong—one minute, his records are going multi-platinum; the next, he’s acting in Oscar-worthy films, hosting SNL every five minutes, and making out with Mila Kunis on-screen.
Well, Jack Spade is basically the Justin Timberlake of the menswear game. The brand started in 1997, selling durable bags (in hardware stores—a telling detail) that were the epitome of form-meets-function. Today, they produce a full line of apparel that’s every bit as ruggedly stylish as their cult-favorite briefcases and duffels.
We had a chance to visit Jack Spade’s showroom in New York recently, for a preview of the Fall/Winter 2013 collection. Check out a few snapshots below (click to enlarge):
…While you’ll have to wait a few months before the Fall goods above land online, you can pre-order items from Jack Spade’s Pre-Fall Collection right now. A few of our favorites are below—along with killer Jack Spade accessories that are available for purchase immediately. (Know your camo: That cool geometric motif on the card case is inspired by Swedish M90.)
SHOP: JACK SPADE
…And check the launch date of more upcoming collections
on our new PRE-FALL DESIGNER TIMELINE
[Showroom photos by Sunny Chang at Treasure & Bond.]
Has your wife or girlfriend ever borrowed your coat or wandered the house in your favorite hoodie? If not, you might need better clothes. ‘Let Her Borrow’ is a new series in which Kristina Zias, a menswear expert at our Grove store in LA, shows off her favorite new items from the Nordstrom Men’s Shop.
“With spring around the corner but indecisive weather now, I’m eyeing a few of the new sweaters in our Men’s Designer department. Beware though, guys: They’re made for you, but if your girlfriend gives you one as a gift, she might have ulterior motives. [maniacal laugh.] Here are my three key sweaters for the season: The hoodie, crewneck and quarter-zip.”
—Kristina Zias, Nordstrom at The Grove, Los Angeles
1. The Hoodie: U Clothing. “One of our newest Men’s Designer labels, this London-based brand took a basic zip-front hoodie and did it right, leaving no detail unnoticed. The cotton/terry blend has a really impressive, luxurious feel to it, and the metal hardware detailing adds some edge. It’s lightweight and perfect to throw on without thinking twice.”
[Shop: U Clothing Hoodie | All Men's Hoodies]
2. The Crewneck: Jack Spade. “This sweater’s bold, red-and-pink stripes are perfect for spring—but you can wear it all year. Pair with shorts and Chucks for day-time weekend wear, then switch it up with a collared shirt, jeans and loafers for a dinner date. I’d even like to see it grunged-up with some camo pants and chukka boots.”
[Shop: Jack Spade Crewneck | All Men's Crewneck Sweaters]
3. The Quarter-Zip: Gant by Michael Bastian. “This cotton pullover sweater is extremely cozy, with intricate stitching that has a serious preppy vibe that I love. It’s a classic sweater to throw on over any outfit when the sea breeze kicks up this summer.”
[Shop: Gant by Michael Bastian Quarter-Zip | All Men's Zip-Up Sweaters]
The final look from our November-issue edition of GQ Selects proves, once again, the power of accessories. In this case, a dapper tie and tie bar, at a combined cost of only $30, give you the power to invest in a truly killer suit—as well as a high-quality laptop case that lends a subtly rugged touch to your most polished office attire.
The Tie Bar Woven Tie. “For the man who has a closet overstuffed with striped ties, this wool-and-silk rendition from The Tie Bar offers a heftier helping of stripes that amps up any basic shirt-and-suit combination.”
—Jim Moore, GQ Creative Director
(shop this item)
Editor’s Note: The exact tie featured in GQ has sold out.
Luckily, we have plenty more ties by The Tie Bar—and all at a mere $15.
Shop color variations of the bold stripe above here, or shop all ties by The Tie Bar.
Jack Spade ‘Tech Oxford’ Slim Laptop Briefcase. “Everything is slimmed-down these days, from our cell phones to our laptops, but so many guys are still lugging around bulky, oversized briefcases. Jack Spade thankfully catches men up to the times with this scaled-down brief. It’s slim without skimping on utility, thanks to the exterior zip pouch, interior pockets, and a durable nylon shell.”
—Jim Moore, GQ Creative Director
(shop this item)
The Tie Bar Woven Tie. “I’m a believer that just as you shouldn’t leave the house without a pocket square, you shouldn’t without a tie bar if you’re wearing a tie. You can never go wrong with a tie bar. It’s that extra detail that’s going to set you apart from the person next to you, whether it’s with a sharp suit or a shirt and tie with a hoodie thrown on top. Aside from looking smart, it’s a functional piece that will keep your neckwear in place throughout the day. This one-inch-long accessory is going to you give you miles’ worth of style.”
—Jim Moore, GQ Creative Director
(shop this item)
Each month, the editors of GQ, in collaboration with Nordstrom Men’s Fashion Director Tommy Fazio and the Men’s Shop, will select key items from the pages of GQ to feature right here on Nordstrom.com.