In the men’s world, Jack Spade can easily be called the former, while Barbour is most definitely the latter.
Jack Spade started here in New York in 1996 – the guys’ offshoot to purse designer Kate Spade’s line. The story goes that Kate and her husband Andy (no, I have no idea where the name Jack came from either) sat around one day wondering, why aren’t there men’s bags that are both stylish and functional?
Good question. You shouldn’t have to choose between hauling your things in a backpack (ugh) or feeling old before your time toting an attaché case to and from the office (not that there’s anything wrong with them; it’s just that briefcases don’t jive with everyone’s personal style – or workplace). The Spades started with waxed canvas messenger bags, and have since moved on to belts, wallets, and other menswear odds and ends.
Barbour, on the other hand, has been around awhile longer. The company was founded in 1894 by John Barbour in Scotland, when he began selling oilskins in the port of South Shields. The brand is known for its waxed and quilted jackets, and in circles that care about such things, it has achieved one-name icon status uttered in hushed, reverent tones – Beyonce. Prince. Barbour.
Enjoying an “in” at Buckingham Palace Pippa Middleton can only dream of, the company even holds royal warrants to supply Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and HRH The Prince of Wales with “waterproof and protective clothing.” So if you’re ever stuck in a thunderstorm with Prince Charles, you know what he’ll be wearing.
I don’t believe in many universal rules when it comes to style, but I do think a Barbour jacket has a place in every man’s closet. Like a navy suit, or the perfectly beat-up baseball hat, a Barbour coat – whether waxed or quilted – is an essential that will absolutely never ever go out of style. Like the Men’s Wearhouse guy says, “I guarantee it.” And much like a good bag, a good jacket is worth every penny you invest in it.
Because owners of these coveted coats keep their jackets forever (I expect to pass mine down to whichever of my future kids treats me the nicest when I get old), the company even has an in-house repair service, who’ll patch and reinforce jackets showing wear and tear.
The bags and coats aren’t cheap, of course, with the jacket above clocking in at just under eight hundred dollars, and the bags ranging from three to four hundred. But over the span of a lifetime? That breakdown’s not so bad. (See this great article from the New York Times on the case on spending a little more, from a certified financial planner)
Plus, I like what a definitive view both Jack Spade and Barbour have of themselves, and why a collaboration makes sense (and not just money) for the two. “Both companies have always designed purposeful products for the man who refuses to compromise his individuality, whether he is the type of person who goes fishing in the pouring rain or gets kicked out of the 21 Club for doodlinig on the tablecloth.”
Check out the whole collection here.