In a memorable scene on "Mad Men," the savvy Bobbie Barrett lays out her business plan. "This is America," she says. "Pick a job and become the person that does it." You could almost say that's how Cuan Hanly became the new designer for Jack Spade.
Hanly was born in Ireland and quickly developed a love of architecture and design. He went on to study fashion, and after graduation, landed a job in London at Paul Smith, where he'd stay for nearly a decade. Rising among the ranks, Hanly became Smith's protege, learning the business and launching the brand internationally. "It was the best learning experience,"
remembers Hanly. "Especially because Paul has such an amazing attitude and sensibility."
Available at Jack Spade and Apartment Number 9
Above: Shawl collar alpaca sweater, $295. Below: (Clockwise from top left) Wool/cashmere jacket, $495; Shirt, $165; Olive chinos, $225; Double-faced plaid shirt, $175; Cashmere V-neck sweater, $325; Lambs wool scarf, $85; Silk knit tie, $95; Tartan wool bow tie, $85.
With an American wife who'd lived in Europe for 17 years, they decided to make "one of those big life changes," and give New York a go. While working as the creative director for Original Penguin, Hanly often found himself walking past the Jack Spade shop on Greene Street. "Whenever I'd walk in, which was often," he says with a laugh. "My heart would sort of flutter because there was so much richness and dimension to everything in there."
Jack was always a brand that resonated with Hanly's own personality and design sensibility. And one day, "I thought, 'Either I've missed the boat and something's about to happen or something really needs to happen,' so, I found out who was running the company and set up a meeting."
Turns out, they were looking for someone to build out the line, so Hanly's call came at the perfect time. If there was any doubt that they hired the right man for the job, the proof is in the puffer jacket. And the suiting, sweaters and upgraded bags.
For the first collection, Hanly and his team focused on an edited collection of essentials. "Andy Spade started out by selling Jack with Levi's and collaborating with brands like Macintosh, so we're keeping with that," he says. Authenticity and fit were key—a pair of khaki pants, for instance, is cut a bit fuller like a traditional officer's chino while the shirting (in Italian and Japanese fabric) has a trim fit akin to styles by brands like A.P.C. Jacket sleeves have working button holes. The humor and whimsy Jack Spade is known for is present and accounted for in tiny details and pops of color.
"Essentially, we wanted these to be those pieces that you keep reaching for," he says before summing up. "Then, after enough wear, they become friends."