early years of Andy Spadeís influence on the fashion
world are well-documented: In 1993, he helped launch the
Kate Spade handbag line with his future wife (the
eponymous Kate). That was followed in 1996 by the Jack
Spade line of utilitarian menís bags. A decade later,
fashionís first couple decided to sell their stakes in
a business that generated a reported $84 million in net
sales in fiscal year 2006, remained as consultants for a
year and then exited the company altogether in 2007.
(Both brands, now owned by Fifth & Pacific Cos.,
continue to thrive.)
in the years since, Andy Spade (brother of comedian
David Spade) has continued to wield substantial ó if
much lower profile ó influence in the fashion and
style arena, most of it via Partners & Spade, a New
York City-based marketing, branding and advertising
agency he co-founded and in which he serves as
co-creative director with Anthony Sperduti.
Spade is nothing short of a fashion-branding juggernaut,
helping shape the publicís perception of an impressive
array of names from the established ó J. Crew and
Target ó to new, upstart brands, such as eyewear
purveyor Warby Parker.
2013, two full decades after co-founding the Kate Spade
brand, Andy Spade seems to be reaching a kind of
critical mass, thanks to a spate of recent high-profile
projects, including an upcoming return to the fashion
50, seems to possess an almost sixth sense of American
nostalgia, an unerring ability to mine our collective
memories, update and repackage them ó make them
relevant. Itís reflected in the way he dresses, the
things he talks about, the places he seeks inspiration,
what he brings to the brands he works with. Even
browsing the photos he posts to Instagram can trigger
waves of phantom nostalgic longing.
gets (the notion of) Ďoldí better than anyone I
know," says Millard Drexler, chief executive of J.
Crew. "He understands it. He understands how to
make something old. In a sense, heís got an old soul.
Thereís no classroom you learn any of that in."
knows of what he speaks. In 2008, J. Crew collaborated
with Partners & Spade to create the retailerís
first stand-alone menís store. The result is exhibit A
in the Spade/Sperduti aesthetic: a tiny stand-alone
boutique housed in a former New York City bar front
featuring an edited-down collection of J. Crew menís
offerings mixed in with retro-cool merchandise like
Globe-Trotter luggage and vintage Borsalino hats. All
are showcased on and around the barís original
fixtures and accented by quirky one-off items like a
selection of pencils with a typewritten note reading
"pencils chewed on by famous authors."
recently, Spade signed on as a creative consultant to
help resuscitate and expand Boast, an irreverent brand
from the Ď70s and Ď80s best known for polo shirts
embroidered with a Japanese maple leaf logo that looks
strikingly similar to cannabis. Spade, who wore the
brand growing up, was so enthusiastic about the labelís
potential he became an investor too and was among those
on hand in February to watch Boast present its first
full-blown menís and womenís collection at New York
we tried to do is keep (Boastís) roots in
tennis," Spade said at the time. "Because it
was born in tennis and squash, it came out of campuses
ó out of Greenwich ó that whole East Coast
world." Spade pointed to the presentationís
venue, the Harvard Club, as one way of acknowledging the
brandís beginnings. "At the same time, weíre
trying to update it. Itís basically a club brand that
we want to move into the fashion world by adding more
product and building it out."
says Boastís legacy was what interested him about the
brand. "It actually has heritage ó itís
authentic," he says. "itís not a made-up
Babenzien, Boastís chief executive, first met Spade in
2009 when Partners & Spade collaborated with K-Swiss
(where Babenzien was then the director of lifestyle and
entertainment marketing) on an exclusive-to-J. Crew
sneaker. He too points to Spadeís ability to make the
past future perfect.
ó thatís a good word for it," Babenzien says.
"What Andyís really good at is taking classic
items and reinterpreting them to be a little more
relevant and modern."
Spade isnít just a go-to guy for long-lived legacy
brands looking to clear out the cobwebs. Partners &
Spade also works with plenty of fledgling brands hoping
to create that kind of plucked-from-the-past connection.
Warby Parker, a 3-year-old company that sells optical
and sunglass frames online, is one of them.
who is also an investor in the brand, says his firm came
up with a novel marketing campaign to help frame Warby
Parkerís eyeglasses "as a style piece rather than
a (medical) tool."
got them out there touring around the country in an old
yellow school bus that we turned into a mobile
store," he says.
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even more recent example is Harryís, which applies
Warbyís online-only model to the booming menís
grooming category. Even though the line of razors, razor
blades and shaving cream opened its cyber doors for
business about two weeks ago, everything about it feels
instantly and authentically old school, from the woolly
mammoth mascot (a simple line drawing that looks lifted
from a childhood book you just canít recall) to razor
styles dubbed "the Winston" and "the
Truman") and usage directions on the back of the
shaving cream that inexplicably ó but delightfully ó
includes suggested lottery numbers.
says heís inspired by regular folks outside the
fashion world. "I donít like to borrow from the
same industry," he says. "I donít go to a
lot of (fashion) shows, I donít follow much. I borrow
from how people personally dress. Iím an observer. Iím
big on Instagram. I go to a lot of art shows and look at
how people dress. I study them, I look for style cues. I
look for old men who dress in their own special
points to the outfit heís wearing on this particular
day in February ó worn and faded (but not too faded)
Leviís 501 jeans, a slightly rumpled button-front
shirt, a pair of dress shoes (but no socks) and a blue
tweed double-vent jacket. Heís wearing a pair of
eyeglasses with tortoiseshell frames (the product of a
late Ď90s collaboration between Jack Spade and Selima
Optics) and his hair is slicked back to form a slight
ducktail at the nape of his neck. "I always wear
the same stuff ó I love Leviís 501ís, and Iíve
never changed," he says.
cites his growing-up years ó in Michigan and then
Arizona before moving to New York City ó as the
crucible of his personal style. "I didnít grow up
in a dressy environment ó no one was wearing
three-piece suits in my hometown. All my style came out
of skateboarding and sports, skateboarding the empty
pools in Scottsdale (Arizona) and playing tennis. I love
Vans (shoes), I love tube socks. Op was big when I was a
kid, Hang Ten was big when I was a kid. Those are the
kinds of clothes I wore and that shaped me and my
after years of helping grow and shape countless brands
in and out of the fashion world (non-fashion clients
include AOL, Absolut and the Village Voice), Partners
& Spade is getting ready to roll out its own apparel
label. He says the menís and womenís line, called
Sleepy Jones, will consist of roughly two dozen pieces
that will launch this spring and will be sold
exclusively at Colette in Paris and the labelís own
excited about it because itís the first thing Iíve
done since Jack Spade in terms of actually designing
product," Spade says.
describes the line as "just really comfortable,
simple clothes. Ö I was inspired by artists like
Picasso and Hockney. They dressed for work, but it wasnít
hard work ó it was creative work. These are the kind
of clothes you can actually create in, that you can
sounds suspiciously like the kind of clothes Andy Spadeís
been wearing all along.