Jack Spade goes back to the bag to move apparel forward

NEW YORK -- Jack Spade made its first New York Fashion Week presentation Wednesday in the Edna Barnes Salomon Room at the New York Public Library.

The inspiration: "We titled this collection 'The Art of Subtraction,'" said the brand's design director Todd Magill. "We started by looking back at some of the older Jack Spade bags -- how utilitarian they were -- and tried to make a collection that was the American sportswear version of that. The guy who carries our bags is not a peacock. He wants utility."


The look: The first to bear Magill's input (he joined the brand about a year ago), the Fall-Winter 2014 collection marks an expansion into tailored clothing. So in addition to trench coats and light outerwear pieces (and of course, the bags) the presentation included elegantly tailored suits (Glen plaid, navy blue with pinstripes) and blazers. There was also a fair amount of khaki to go around (the one thing the menswear world does not need right now is another pair of khaki pants), and a suede version of what's shaping up to be the go-to men's trouser silhouette -- the drawstring-waisted, ankle-cinching sweatpant.

The most visible manifestation of the "bag DNA" came in the form of the waxwear fabric used in many of the line's more popular bags, which has been used in car coats, bucket hats and accent trim on various pieces.

The scene: The choice of venue and the fact that some of the models clutched well-worn books (among the titles we spotted were "The Kennedy Wit" and "The Haploids") weren't by accident.

"We love the New York Public Library, it's an icon and we're an iconic New York City brand, and our stores also have lending libraries so that makes it kind of appropriate too."

The verdict: As die-hard fans of the early Jack Spade bags, we wanted the apparel to have more of that kind of gee-whiz functionality and adult-kid whimsy. That wasn't much in evidence in pieces presented  Wednesday, which, for the most part, felt like something that could have walked off a J.Crew sales floor.

If Magill and Co. manage to infuse more of that spirit into successive collections, the Jack Spade brand might have a winning combination in the bag.