Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Squire Tuck Reports: Soho

Jack Spade/Greene St.

Our old friend, Squire Tuck, has made it his mission to roam around the world, frequently on the isle of Manhattan, in search of stylish things to wear, use, or just show; as well as to find delicious things to eat and comfortable, hospitable places in which to eat them.               ©SquireTuck2011.

In Spades: When Kate and Andy Spade sold their remaining shares in their brands, the well-known Kate Spade and the better kept secret Jack Spade to Liz Claiborne, it was natural to think the worst. After several recent trips to the original Jack Spade store at 56 Greene Street in Soho, including a viewing of the new expansion and renovation, I can report that all is well:

Yes, the shop has lost a little funk and may appear a touch too spiffy for JS purists. Yes, some of the off-beat "artwork" high on the walls above the shelves has been replaced with product. Yes, it would be nice, no offense helper-gents, to have more ladies to help customers. But, there is more product than before and it is both distinguishable from J.Crew or Billy Reid and true to its own brand origins.*

I've been using their iconic messenger bag and various sized satchels since the beginning, and drily wear one of its authentic macintosh coats (and wish it had an inauthentic zipper!). We recommend the new Graham Sport Coat ($495), a thick cotton-cord jacket made for cool autumn or early spring air.
Graham Sport Coat
There is a button and a loop to secure the collar and keep out a brisk wind. Also, saltwater-washed oxford shirts in close-to old Brooks' colors: so weighty off the shelf you won't need that sweater (make sure your washing machine is properly bolted down).

I could point to many instances of a large corporation buying and burying great brands, and, admit to missing the "we don't mind if we don't actually sell much stuff" -air of the original JS shop; however, this is still a great alternative, when a guy needs something encompassing both traditional style and a nod to the now.

#6 LexLine to Spring or Canal or Broadway Line to Prince or Canal.

Seize Sur Vingt: Just north of JS, at 76 Greene Street, you will find this unusual men's shop. We were originally attracted to this brand by its striped and plaid cotton shirts and by the unusual, perhaps unique in NYC fact, that many of them are made in Portugal. Who knew? The prices are somewhat higher than some of you usually pay, but you simply need to buy fewer, better things.

They also have suits and jackets, but you better be in pretty good shape for these, and be ready to pay somewhat more than you would at your alma mater Brooks or for the Ludlow "suiting" at J.Crew.

As with the Jack Spade report above, I especially address this message to wives, girlfriends, sisters and daughters of RareBurghers, because we know that it is you who actually will be buying clothes for many of these store-shy guys. And, it is you who will be, shall we say, stretching the guys' haberdashery limits.

To you, we recommend trying a 16sur20 shirt to begin. $240. Yes, you can.

No Sole
Forecast: When you can no longer find your favorite type of boat shoe to replace the ones you bought four or six or ten years ago, you may find that they have been discontinued. Not to worry. 

Many shoe brands discontinue certain styles, because...well, just because they feel like it. I like boat shoes to have a dark colored sole, instead of white, because they are far more versatile. White soles only look good on an actual boat. Maybe.

When this kind of thing happens, one of the places to go to for help is Forecast Footwear at 510 Broadway in Soho. I just replaced my old brown Timberlands for $74**

McNally Jackson: Along with Mysterious Books (Warren St/Tribeca) and Crawford Doyle (1082 Madison), this is one of the last great indie bookshops in Manhattan. I recently picked up a copy of Patrick Leigh-Fermor's Mani, about his travels in Greece, before, during and after WWII.

PL-F was a great friend of Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire, whose book Wait For Me, I bought for my wife last year, and promptly borrowed. This is an unlikely book for me to like as I do not read memoirs, am not a fan royals, think her Mitford sisters were bonkers, and worry when I like what are so obviously chic-books. Still, I read on. M-J is at 52 Prince St, east of Lafayette.

* If you want to get at least a hint of what the original Jack Spade was like, try The Liquor Store, a mens only J.Crew shop, 235 W. Broadway at White St., which was designed by Partners & Spade, Andy's new thing ( ). Or, if it's Saturday, visit Partners & Spade itself at 40 Great jones Street, around the corner from Billy Reid, and wonder, as I do, who in the world would ever buy some of this stuff.

** They did not have the same boatshe in black, which was disappointing, since I like to buy both colors, when I find a shoe style that fits and has great style. Also, I have been known to wear one brown/one black, just to be prepared for all situations, although nobody has ever noticed.

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