By  on July 17, 2014

Jack Spade is heightening its focus on the men’s business this fall with the retail launch of its first tailored clothing collection.

In mid-August, the men’s wear division of Kate Spade & Co. will introduce The Benton Suit to its 13 freestanding stores in the U.S., Asia and Europe, as well as online. The suits, which will be manufactured from Italian wool and offered in a variety of traditional men’s wear patterns, will be sold as separates and retail for $698 for the jackets and $298 for the pants.

“We’ve always made smart bags and modern bags and we’re doing so well with sportswear, this will help us move closer to creating more of a lifestyle brand,” said Melissa Xides, vice president of Jack Spade. Sportswear was introduced about four years ago and now accounts for one-third of the brand’s sales.

She said the company sees a “void” in servicing its customer for his Monday-to-Friday needs and the suit offering fills “white space” in the market for a collection with a retail price under $1,000.

The half-canvas suits will be available in eight fabrics for fall including navy, chalk stripe, micro-houndstooth, glen plaid and tropical wool with Bemberg linings, said design director Todd Magill. The single-breasted silhouette offers a natural shoulder, raised two-button stance and a slightly shortened jacket. The lapel is narrow to complement today’s more modern shirts and the jackets also offer a large inner pocket for cell phones and other items. The pants are straight but have room in the thigh. “We don’t see our guy as a peacock,” Magill said.

Even so, the clothing will sport the brand’s signature pop of orange in the pocket linings, boutonniere pocket and inner stitching.

The assortment will also include complementary shirts and ties. The dress shirts will be available in a spread collar model in 80s two-ply cotton with shell buttons and a notch on the cuff. The Jack Spade signature orange color will be used for the thread on the final button.

Eight patterns will be offered, Magill said, including windowpanes, micro-stripes, micro-checks and even a floral. The shirts will retail for $168.

Ties will be offered in knits and wovens and be a mix of solids and patterns. Chambrays and a woven version of the company’s “googly eyes” pattern are among the offerings. The neckwear will retail for $98 to $148.

There will also be a camel-hair topcoat, a new addition, as well as a bonded trench for fall, he said.

For now, the collection is not being offered at wholesale. “We want to launch in our direct-to-consumer channels,” said Xides. She noted that the Jack Spade stores will be retrofitted to include a dedicated suit section and employees are being trained in fit and tailoring. Associates will measure customers in the store and local tailors will be used to do the work. “This is a big cultural shift for them,” she said of the employees.

The clothing will be marketed digitally as well as at trunk shows within the stores. If met with a warm reception from consumers, Xides said it could be wholesaled next year. “When we do talk to our wholesale partners, we will talk early and we’ll have credibility under our belts,” she said. “But the first year is all about dialogue with our consumers.”

Xides said in order to reach more customers, Jack Spade has lowered its prices, dropping retails on the fall sportswear assortment by 20 percent. “We want to be more accessible and correct the price-value relationship,” she said.

Kate Spade is the only remaining brand of the former Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc. and in February, Kate Spade & Co. began trading under the KATE ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange. The company has publicly stated it hopes to reach sales of $2 billion by the end of 2016, up from the $742 million it posted in 2013.

To reach that goal, the corporation is projecting growth in all three of its nameplates: Kate Spade, Kate Spade Saturday and Jack Spade.

“Jack is like Kate was five years ago,” said Xides. “It’s an emerging brand with an amazing DNA.” She declined to say what percentage of overall sales the brand represents.

The division was started in 1996 by founders Kate and Andy Spade, who began selling messenger bags made from waxed cotton and heavy canvas. It opened its first store in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood in 1999 and now operates nine stores in the U.S., three in Japan and one in London.

To accommodate the projected growth, Jack Spade moved into a new showroom in New York, three times the size of its prior office.

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