If you like his man bags, you'll dig Jack Spade's menswear
If you’ve found yourself wishing there was a single place to address all your various esoteric needs — perhaps a Bob Mackie-designed headdress owned by Phyllis Diller, a whoopee-cushion Halloween costume, a robot toupee and a blogger-designed curse-word necktie, head over to the stretch of Little Santa Monica Boulevard just west of the Wilshire Boulevard intersection in Beverly Hills and start tapping the brakes when you reach the tiny storefront windows festooned with neon yellow pineapples.
It's the latest pop-up installation in the Apartment Number 9 space, a collaboration with New York-based Jack Spade, and in addition to oddities like artist Jason Polan’s thin book of black-and-white drawings titled “People I Like in LA" stacks of vintage vinyl comedy LPs (including records by Bill Cosby, Diller and Richard Pryor) and two (count 'em, two) gorilla costumes, the store has the distinction of being the first to serve up the man bag and accessory brand's first foray into a full-blown clothing collection.
I stopped by the curiosity cabinet gone wild last Wednesday, the day before the temporary shop was set to open to find Jack Spade’s vice-president and general manager Cuan Hanly filling twisty-necked glass soda bottles with layers of colored sand amid stacks of briefcases and wallets and racks of clothes. Hanly slowed down long enough to walk me through some of the key pieces from the fall 2009 debut apparel collection.
If, like me, you're a fan of the Jack Spade aesthetic -- a mixture of heavy, utilitarian fabrics and preppy details, you'll want to check out the assortment of trousers, button-front shirts, ties, blazers, cashmere sweaters and outerwear (including solid-looking down vests and corduroy-lined pea coats) all of it with the sort of delicious hidden details that are the label's stock and trade.
The signature pops of blaze orange found in the bag accents and linings are carried over to the clothes in contrasting buttonholes and underneath jacket collars. The sweaters have the name Jack embroidered into the back hem, an all but imperceptible nod to the traditional practice of Scottish and Irish fishermen who would have their names sewn in to keep their belongings from being confused during stints at sea.
Unlike the bags, which I've always found roomy enough to transport anything from tools to freshly made ice cream (and sometimes both at the same time), the clothes are cut a bit on the slimmer side, but I especially appreciate that the trench coat (above) was designed with an inner pocket big enough to accommodate a folded broadsheet newspaper.
Oh, and those pineapples? It doesn't mean the label's giving Tommy Bahama a run for its money. Hanly explained that the traditional symbol of hospitality was chosen as the motif because of the large number of collaborators being welcomed into the space alongside Jack Spade.
Those include actress Phyllis Diller, the above-mentioned artist Jason Polan, a style blogger who goes by the name Mister Mort (a.k.a. Mordechai Rubinstein -- he of the cuss-word cravat), a Jack Spade custom Beloved bicycle, and containers bearing labels like "Robot Milk" and "Barbarian Repellent" from the retail side of the nonprofit 826 writing and tutoring centers (the folks who gave us NYC's Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. and local Echo Park Time Travel Mart, whose wares are also on the shelves there).
And if you don't darken the doorstep of the temporary retail fun house before its Halloween end date, time travel will be the only way to get there.
Jack Spade / Apartment Number 9 at 9877 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 785-9001. Open 10 am to 6 pm Tues. through Sat. until Oct.31.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photos: The debut Jack Spade men's apparel collection for fall 2009 includes the Hallet trench coat (top, $695) and Lorillard Fishermen's sweater (bottom, $345).Credit: Courtesy of Jack Spade.